PITTSFIELD — Jim Cervone, co-owner with his wife, Lisa, of the newly opened Crust on East Street, honed his pizza-making skills growing up in an Italian family. "I love to cook and I love Italian foods. I always made pizza," he said in a recent phone interview. "I had one more entrepreneurial opportunity in my career — and that was making something I love — pizza.
"I started Crust because I love pizza. When I travel, I will always try to find the best pizza place," he added. "I'm on a mission to create the perfect pizza. It's an impossible goal because there is always some tweaking we can do."
Crust opened at its 505 East St. location, adjacent to Cervone's other popular business, Ayelada, on Aug. 30. Pittsfield's newest pizzeria serves what Cervone calls "neo-New York style."
"It's very Neapolitan style the way we make the dough — high hydration and aged for four days. It's New York-style because we cook it longer, so people can hold it and eat it. A traditional Neapolitan pizza you eat with a fork."
He said what makes Crust different from other pizza places in Pittsfield is all the homemade ingredients. Crust offers Italian meats, which are far superior, he said, in lieu of pepperoni; not your standard toppings; using shredded mozzarella cheese and a fior di latte [a fresh mozzarella] each made with only four ingredients and not oily, and the price — $10 or less for a 12-inch pizza.
"When we look for ingredients and toppings, we look for the best," he said. "Our motto is: 'Quality without compromise.'"
Crust offers six signature pizzas: Neo with an organic red sauce, fior di latte, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese dust; Red Mushroom with organic red sauce, house-roasted mushrooms, fior di latte, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese dust; Slice of Italy with organic red sauce, fior di latte, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese dust, imported Italian salami and or mortadella; White Mushroom with a mushroom truffle sauce, house roasted mushrooms, truffle Parmesan cheese dust, black truffle oil drizzle, truffle salt and pepper; Green with a house-made pesto sauce, fior di latte, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese dust, house caramelized onions roasted red peppers and house-roasted mushrooms; Carne with an organic red sauce, fior di latte, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese dust, house-made meatball and/or Italian sausage; and Build Your Own, create your very own masterpiece from the ever-changing toppings.
Customers may also add "finishing touches," for no charge, including: basil, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, hot truffle sauce, hot honey mustard, black truffle oil, red pepper flakes, fresh black pepper, truffle salt, arugula, ranch dressing, dried oregano, pizza spice (dried oregano basil and garlic).
Cervone said what also makes Crust different from other pizzerias is that "we make everything in house." The dough is made daily, using Italian flours and old-world techniques. It is then aged for four days, which allows the yeast to add more air to the dough, creating a fluffier crust. In addition, the crust stays very thin and very moist, which gives it a "light, crispy bite," Cervone said.
Also made in house is the organic red sauce, which uses organic California tomatoes, a pesto sauce with basil, a white truffle cream sauce that Cervone said, "It's unfair how good it is!" All the mushrooms used on the pizzas are shiitakes, and Cervone said the meatballs are also homemade.
"We're very sensitive to people's allergies and lifestyle options, so everyone can eat our pizza," Cervone said. "We offer a cauliflower crust, two gluten-free crusts, and vegan cheeses and meats."
Opening day was busy, he said, with more than 300 pizzas ordered.
"Pittsfield always shows support," he said. It was so busy, Cervone, said the staff had trouble keeping up with the demand. "It's a new staff, new business and we couldn't give good service; we served the pizza, but not very efficiently. We weren't prepared for it." He added he has ordered an additional two ovens to keep up with the demand.
"We are making a great pizza, we have to find ways to serve it better," he said. "We're working on figuring it out. It was fun, but very chaotic."