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For 20 years, Orazio Ippolito Jr. said his place in Clarence was one Italian restaurant that wouldn’t serve pizza.

“We’ve always been a white tablecloth restaurant, and we felt that pizza would cheapen us,” said Ippolito, the chef-owner of Orazio’s (9415 Main St., Clarence, 759-8888).

But last year, when he learned of a gas-fired oven that had received the blessing of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the standard-keepers of Neapolitan-style pizza, Ippolito changed his stance. “This oven actually gets as hot as you need it to,” he said. Most of his pizzas cook quickly at 800 degrees, with a few seconds in a 900-degree spot under the oven’s domed center.

Then he uses the best ingredients he can – the San Marzano tomatoes, “00” flour and extra virgin olive oil are all imported from Italy, Ippolito said. The 12-inch pizzas run from $12.95 to $14.95 for numbers like the Portofino, which boasts mozzarella, guanciale, chives and sunny-side-up eggs.

That guanciale, cured pig’s cheeks, runs $22 a pound, but first-class pizzas deserve first-class toppings, Ippolito said. “People absolutely love the flavor of it.”

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FOODIE FIND:

American Legion Fish Fry

It’s $10.99 for fried haddock, french fries, housemade coleslaw, macaroni and potato salads or lazy pierogi from noon to 8 p.m. Friday in the Matthew Glab Post (1965 Abbott Road, Lackawanna). Call 825-3733.