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South Perry Pizza tops it off with style

Don’t read this review and rush right down to South Perry Pizza.

You’ll only ruin my plans to park myself in the sun on the new patio for dinner … from now through the rest of the summer.

The pizzeria opened this winter with inviting flames from the pizza oven reflecting in the window panes of two big garage doors. The buttery walls, concrete floors and long wooden bar create a simple and inviting space, but we immediately began wishing for warmer weather. Those two big garage doors were just begging to be opened and let the neighborhood feel of the restaurant spill out onto the patio.

Owner Krista Kautzmann rolled open those doors for the first time last week.

Kautzmann, who opened the restaurant with her parents Sue and Pat, says they’ve had fun getting to know the neighbors and other business owners in the South Perry district.

“We’re just so grateful to the neighborhood,” she said. “We have some families who come in twice a week.”

South Perry Pizza chef Chris Deitz tosses 12-inch pies and tops them with inventive gourmet toppings. The menu is simple and short; a special pizza offering is on the chalkboard near the bar seating as diners walk in the door.

Each pizza serves one or two people, but you’d have to be a very hearty eater to polish one off.

Pizzas emerge from the stone, gas-fired oven with a crackly golden crust. It’s thin, but not too thin and bakes into a perfectly crunchy, yet slightly chewy platform for toppings and cheese.

On our first visit, my husband and I settled in for salads and ordered flatbread to keep the young noshers at our table happy.

While the kids devoured the herb and parmesan-topped flatbread, we shared the Caesar and Bleu salads ($5 each). Both were full of crisp lettuce and coated with housemade dressings.

The Caesar is a simple mixture of hearts of Romaine and shaved parmesan. The Bleu salad includes mixed greens, candied walnuts, crumbled bleu cheese, red onion, and grapes.

We enjoyed the delicious prosciutto pizza ($13), which has an olive oil base. It’s topped with mascarpone and mozzarella cheese, fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes.

The mellow mascarpone and slightly spicy arugula were a welcome combination. Bursts of sweetness from the cherry tomato tied things together nicely.

The Margherita ($9) is served with traditional tomato sauce base, fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. It will be even better this summer when fresh tomatoes are ripening.

Our 2- and 6-year-old eaters were happy with the simple flatbread and it has become their go-to order.

During subsequent visits, we discovered what we had been missing on those first two pies – the caramelized onions.

The house pizza ($13) includes a fantastic combination of red sauce, mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms and those tasty onions.

We also tried a special pizza that night which was a nice contrast to the hearty House. The pie was topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, thin Granny Smith apple slices, red onions, fennel and a touch of thyme.

Diners who don’t find something to love on the menu can create their own pizza instead. There is a base price of $9 and cheeses, meats and veggies can be added for $1 or $2 each.

The theme of simple but high-quality offerings carries through the South Perry Pizza dessert menu. We enjoyed a decadent brownie ($6) topped with coffee-flavored, locally made Brain Freeze Ice Cream, while the kids spooned up vanilla ($3).

We enjoyed a pleasantly spiked tiramisu ($6) at a later visit. The restaurant also serves a seasonal fruit crisp served with vanilla ice cream ($6).

South Perry Pizza has a nice selection of beers on tap and wines by the glass or by the bottle.

The seats can quickly fill with couples, families and groups on busy nights. Early on, there could be confusion at the counter as people tried to get on the waiting list, but Kautzmann has since worked through those kinks. Now, a sign directs people to the end of the bar where employees seat people or take down their name.

We had short waits during our visits, but were comfortable in some of the few chairs in the entry. Another time we sipped wine at the bar while we waited.

Kautzmann says some people opt to walk across the street for a drink at the tiny Lantern Tavern while they wait for a table. A call to their cell phone lets them know when a table is ready.

South Perry Pizza offers takeout, but doesn’t deliver.

My only complaint about South Perry Pizza is the problem with leftovers. The delicious crispy, yet chewy quality of the crust cannot be restored when the pizzas are reheated. Eating them straight from the oven is the best way to enjoy them. (Not that it stopped anyone at my house from eating the remaining slices both cold and warmed.)

Or, maybe that is just what I’m telling myself so I have another reason to visit again.

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