A new pizza concept based in Colorado called Apeizza e vino has entered Texas, with the December 4 opening of its inaugural branch in Southlake. If you recognize Italian words and like to do puzzles, you might surmise that "apeizza e vino" stands for "pizzeria" plus "wine bar." It boasts a wood-fired oven with pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads and wine by the glass.
Apeizza is a franchise founded by restaurateur Rich Foresta, who opened a restaurant called Angelo's Pizza Parlor in 1992. Foresta created the Apeizza concept in 2007 as a way to combine pizzeria with wine bar.
"Visualize a tastefully appointed wine bar, creating a lovely ambiance with low lighting and smooth jazz music playing in the background," says the franchise material.
Following the style of Neapolitan-style pizzerias, Apeizza has a brick wood-fired oven that's fabricated in Italy. To its credit, Apeizza uses a Marra Forni oven, a wood-burning dome style covered in tile that can hit 900 degrees Fahrenheit, like the kind used by authentic Neapolitan-style pizzerias.
As proof that the oven was custom-made for them, it features the last name of the family that owns it, embedded in tile: "DeBastiani."
"It was built in Italy and shipped to us," says Betty DeBastiani. "Its beauty adds to the atmosphere of our restaurant."
The restaurant is in the old Butterfly space at 2777 E. Southlake Blvd. They've taken what was rather a dark space and added some windows to brighten it up.
Salads run from Caesar to an entree salad with roast beef. Starters include bruschetta and eggplant rolls stuffed with goat cheese. There are more than a dozen pizza options, ranging from classic margherita and the very Northern Italian funghi pizza made with porcini mushrooms.
But there are also more fusion pies: The Mediterranean is topped with olives and feta cheese. There's one with chicken, red onion, basil pesto, sun-dried tomato and fior di latte mozzarella. Another has poblano chiles and Alfredo sauce.
Much of the menu and format is derived from the traditional Neapolitan style, including the use of Caputo flour from Italy. But Apeizza will not adhere to nor seek certification from the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association.
With the wine-bar profile, the emphasis is on wines by the glass rather than the bottle. The list is broad, with labels from Italy, California, Spain, Chile and Argentina – 15 reds and eight whites total, plus beer and cocktails.
For dessert, there are cannolis and tiramisu, and they do a gluten-free pizza, which seems impossible because pizza is traditionally made with wheat, but miracles do happen. They've also acquired a pasta machine and will make their own.
"We also make our own mozzarella cheese," says co-owner Joe DeBastiani. "On certain days, you can come in the afternoon and see the process."