Dilworth is welcoming Inizio Pizza Napoletana‘s second location to the neighborhood today.
Owner Grant Arons fell in love with the Napoletana style of pizza back in 2011 and immediately began his quest to bring the style to Charlotte. After installing a wood-fired oven in his backyard and practicing with different flours ingredients, he opened his first store in Providence Commons last year.
Arons wants the new space — and any future spaces — to have its own identity and feel, so some of the elements that Inizio had at the first location have been tweaked a bit at the new location.
“We got some feedback from the first store, where we only had communal seating, that people out on a date or people talking about a conversation that they don’t want strangers hearing needed a spot where they could sort of be by themselves,” Arons said.
So community tables will still be available but there will also be separate tables.
The Dilworth spot has some additional craft beer and wine options, a patio with custom-made furniture and umbrellas, and a little extra space for the gelato, which is imported from Italy.
“Our rule is if we can make it better, we’re going to make it in house,” Arons said. “And if we can’t, then we are going to buy the best quality that we can. We don’t have space to be making our own gelato, but we tested a lot of different gelato and ultimately the stuff that we bring in is just delicious.”
The pizza ovens are also imported from Italy and weigh about 6,000 pounds.
The pizza itself is baked at about 900 degrees for just 90 seconds. The pizza is assembled on a marble countertop and the ingredients are kept room temperature, which Arons said helps bring the flavors out.
This “pizza-making area” is what Arons believes will be a really fun area to watch for patrons.
“The entertainment factor for us is the buzz of the employees,” Arons said. “Watching these guys work the ovens, cooking pizza in 90 seconds, having to take one out and get back in there and rotate a pizza and get the next one out. It’s fun. We call it the ‘Dance of the Oven.'”
Similar to its original location, Inizio Dilworth has a temperature-controlled dough room, which helps control some of the variables when applying master baking techniques. Also, the front counter is still upscale fast casual.
Matt Hooker is currently working on a mural inside, which will eventually wrap up onto the ceiling.
And one thing that Inizio has taken a lot of pride in? Its cannoli filling, especially Arons’ favorite flavor, lemon.
“We spent a lot of time going back to the drawing board saying, ‘Make it better, make it better, make it better,’” Arons said. “We do many different flavors, but the lemon is a new addition. Lemon in southern Italy is plentiful so you find it pop up in a lot of dishes. So we felt like we needed to incorporate lemon a little bit more.”
Inizio Pizza: 2230 Park Road
Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Photos: Colby Alvino, Sallie Funderburk