Homegrown Pizza celebrates one-year anniversary

Thomas Price, chef at Homegrown Pizza in Morgantown, said he is trying to “change the world for the better, one pizza at a time.”

I can’t speak for the world, but Homegrown Pizza definitely changed my life for the better.

Today is the restaurant’s one-year anniversary, so I am taking this opportunity to tell you about this local gem.

Like many people, I love pizza. One of my pet peeves is burned crust, but I’m happy to report I’ve yet to have a burned crust from Homegrown Pizza.

In fact, their pizzas are so good I never made it past them in the menu — those and garlic knots. My family’s favorite is the Mountaineer Caprese — sauce, cheese, cherry tomatoes, pesto and balsamic reduction.

When I first read the description, I was dubious. Vinegar on a pizza? Yep, it works, and it’s tasty. I’ve also tried the Oh Kale Yeah! and Greek by the Creek.

Toppings on the former include kale and carrots — I was surprised by how much I like these unusual pizza toppings. They were roasted to perfection, and the flavors blended really well.

In addition to the skill of the kitchen staff, the veggies themselves play a big role in how good these pizzas taste.

“We try to do everything as local as we can,” said Julie Pirlo, co-owner of Homegrown Pizza.

Part of Julie’s and co-owner Scott Shaffer’s inspiration for opening the restaurant was their CSA shares with Mountain Harvest Farm.

The weekly fresh food paired with the friendship between Scott and Thomas resulted in easily accessible fresh food for the rest of us. Now they source from this local farm for their restaurant.

In addition to local produce, they also source meat from Mountain Meadow Ridge and eggs from SFS Farm. Julie said they also occasionally go to farmers markets for toppings.

Scott said the kitchen staff makes at least two batches of pizza dough each day. The sauce is from scratch, along with all salad dressings.

“We have a lady who orders a salad without the lettuce, because she loves Thomas’s chicken so much,” Julie said, adding that the veggies, chicken and dressing are delicious and fresh.

“We have the best customers I’ve seen anywhere,” said Thomas, who worked in other restaurants both locally and further afield. He said he has also been excited by how adventurous locals are with their pizza toppings — he was afraid customers would only want pepperoni.

The owners and staff were surprised by the popularity of one special: Pizza with brussels sprouts and prosciutto turned out to be a big hit.

Their first year of business was busier than expected, and Julie and Scott said they aren’t sure what the next year will hold. Thomas said he’d like to expand the menu to include some easy tail-gating items for football season.

The said they tossed around the idea of opening another location or offering delivery, but for now they just plan to keep making good food.

Their location — in the Richard stretch of W.Va. 7, outside of Sabraton — is another thing I like. It’s convenient for picking up a pizza to take home for dinner, and it’s easier than going downtown or to one of Morgantown’s shopping plazas.

If you haven’t already tried their pizza, salads and subs, I highly recommend you do — it might change your life for the better, too.

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