by Nancy Stiles
Soulard will be getting its very own Neapolitan pizza joint this fall. Owner and chef Scott Sandler plans to open Pizzeoli at 1928 South Twelfth Street, formerly Arcelia's, in mid-October or November. We spoke with Sandler about why St. Louis needs another pizza place and the allure of Soulard.
"I've just been making pizzas for a really long time at home," Sandler tells us. "I had another career [but] it was a dream of mine to open a place and I just decided to do it."
The menu will be fairly small, with pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven with a Naples-style dome. Dough and fresh mozzarella will be made daily, with perhaps a locally sourced house salad and gelato for dessert. However, Sandler says he wants to keep Pizzeoli singularly focused on pizza. The drink menu will include Italian wines, sodas plus local craft beers.
Sandler is heading to Los Angeles next week to complete a week-long training session with the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the U.S. arm of Naples' pizza-governing body (yes, that's a thing).
He lived in St. Louis as a child but bounced from New Jersey to California to New York before a job -- he worked in commercial real estate -- brought him back to St. Louis in 2010. "I have a lot of cousins here, I have roots here," he says. "I love St. Louis -- it feels like home."
Instead of hiring an outside chef, Sandler will be doing most of the cooking himself, which he says will give it a family-style feel. He doesn't have to do much to the interior space (which was part of its appeal), but he'll change out the tables and chairs, install the oven and utilize the brick walls and large bar.
"Quite honestly, I think you're going to see more Neapolitan pizza popping up in the next year or two and there's definitely room for all of them. I don't think it's trendy because it's the original pizza, for over a hundred years it's how they do it in Italy," Sandler says. "I'm really excited about it, so hopefully everyone that comes will have a good experience."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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