Jim Hochendoner and his cousin, Gary Bugielski, opened Crust Cafe and Pizzeria in Upper St. Clair just six months ago. Already, they've experienced a steady flow of customers.
"Upper St. Clair is such a supportive community. We have been blown away," said Boo Sowers, Crust manager.
Hochendoner grew up around pizza—his brother owned a pizzeria in Carrick called Danny O. Doogles.
"I've always had a love for pizza," Hochendoner said.
His passion for pizza and good-quality food is evident. The pizza's crust is, appropriately, made with a lot of TLC. It's created fresh daily and never used before the aging process is complete—critical in creating a crisp crust.
Pizzas are topped with straight provolone and sauce that isn't loaded with oregano.
"I don't kill it with spices. You can taste the tomato," Hochendoner said.
After baking, the crust is brushed with a butter-garlic sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Salads, wings and sandwiches made with Tuscan loaves from Breadworks are also on the menu.
"I make as much as I can from scratch," Hochendoner said.
One of the most popular—and convenient—items available at Crust is the take-n-bake pizza.
"Everyone (other pizzerias and grocery stores) have done it (the take-n-bake), but it's half baked," he said. "That's a premade crust and boxed who knows when."
The Crust take-n-bake pizza is made in front of customers and then shrink-wrapped to bring home and pop in the oven.
"I can emphatically tell people it's (take-n-bake pizza) is going to taste the same (at home as it does at the pizzeria)," Hochendoner said.
Whether you take out or eat in, Crust is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Crust is located at 509 Painters Run Road in the former Lil Reppi's building.