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The Italians are in the house, and they’re taking the humble calzone to new heights.
Business partners Dan Porzel, Ryan Mangialardo, and Brendon Maciariello (pictured left to right) are preparing to open Sauce on the Side, a new spot specializing in traditional and gourmet calzones, “dessert calzones,” salads, and microbrewed beer at 903 Pine St. downtown (the former Sweet Basil Thai Cafe and short-lived Gregory’s Café & Pub).
Scheduled to open Aug. 1, Sauce on the Side will operate via the fast-casual, order-at-the-counter style, said Maciariello.
Virtually every ingredient that can be made in-house will be done so, said Mangialardo (whose last name actually means “eat well” in Italian, he said). The calzone dough, similar to pizza dough, will be made on the premises daily and hand-tossed. All salad dressings, dipping sauces, and "bastes" (see below) will be made at the eatery, and, the owners boasted, their freshness is further ensured by the fact that they refuse to use a freezer.
The 14 calzones on the menu measure about 10” long, take 8 to 15 minutes to cook, and are priced from $7-$10, the owners explained.
Each calzone’s filling starts with a blend of mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, and then takes off in fun directions.
Consider the “Costanza” (a reference to a classic episode of “Seinfeld”), stuffed with eggplant, pepperoni, roasted garlic, basil, and cheeses, then basted in garlic honey and served with red sauce. The “Five – O” updates the noted Hawaiian pizza-topping combo with pineapple, pancetta instead of ham, roasted red peppers, smoked cheddar, mascarpone, other cheeses, a final baste of smoked chili oil, and barbecue sauce on the side. The “Magic Carpet Ride” features crimini, button, portabella, and shiitake ‘shrooms.
The fun “Which Came First?” includes roasted pulled chicken, smoked bacon, jalapenos, onions, cheeses, a salsa verde dipping sauce, and a cooked egg yolk that remains runny when the calzone is cut open, said Mangialardo. The “Gonzo” has Volpi salami, dates, baby spinach, Boursin and other cheeses. The “Roasty Toasty” has pulled chicken coated in pesto, arugula, red onion, and toasted pine nuts, with a pesto dipping sauce. The “Figgy Piggy” includes figs, smoked bacon, Balsamic-marinated onions, and Boursin and other cheeses.
Plus, said Mangialardo, look for other weekly-special and seasonal-ingredient calzones, and feel free to build your own from a list of more than 50 ingredients, including the expected (green peppers, sausage, meatballs, etc.) and some wonderfully off-the-wall choices, like capers, chorizo, corn, green onions, Kalamata olives, marinated zucchini, yellow peppers, capicola, prosciutto, pulled barbecue chicken, and snap peas.
Each calzone is finished with one of a selection of bastes (garlic honey, chili oil, etc.), a shake of the house blend of spices (oregano, basil, dried garlic, red pepper flakes, etc.) and a sprinkle of microplaned Parmesan on top which, because the calzone is hot from the oven, “turns to glass,” as Mangialardo phrases it. The array of house-made dipping sauces include red, spicy red, garlic butter, barbecue, barbecue ranch, pesto, queso, salsa verde, a cayenne pepper sauce, and a meat sauce that’s a Maciariello family recipe.
Noteworthy Salads include the “Smokehouse” (butter lettuce, charred corn, pancetta, smoked cheddar, pear tomatoes, basil, and barbecue ranch dressing); and the “Strawberry Fields” (spring mix, strawberries, feta cheese, red onion, sage, mint, candied walnuts, and white Balsamic vinaigrette).
Fun desserts-in-a-calzone include one with Nutella, bananas, mascarpone cheese, and powdered sugar; and a calzone-ified warm apple pie with waves of apple filling and caramel-crumb streusel, plus plenty of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a graham-cracker-crumble calzone crust. (The dessert calzones are wrapped in an eppie roll, a NYC pizzeria specialty that’s basically a calzone with the dough knit together in a braid, sometimes with open ends.)
Beer aficionados may choose from more than 50 bottled beers, 80 percent of which will be microbrews and locals, said Mangialardo. Look for products by Urban Chestnut, Schlafly, Cathedral Square, Firestone (Calif.), Nectar (Calif.), Stone (Calif.), and Bell’s (Mich.), he said.
There will also be a small selection of wines, said Maciariello, and you can order carry-out with six packs of beer and half-bottles of wine if you’d like, he added. Sauce on the Side may eventually consider delivery options, said Mangialardo.
Maciariello (Mad Tomato, Bar Louie, Kilkenny’s Pub, and Meadowbrook Country Club), Mangialardo (Dewey’s, John P. Fields, Pi, and Bar Louie), and Porzel (Kilkenny’s Pub, One Nineteen North, and Pi) are three friends and restaurant vets who’d been talking about opening their own place for some time, they said. Eventually they settled on calzones.
“Everybody specializes in gourmet pizza, but nobody’s doing this,” said Mangialardo. “In fact, a lot of pizza places simply make calzones because they have the dough on hand.”
As for the name of the business, said Maciariello, “People who know calzones get it; the red sauce is on the side, not inside the calzone.”
Sauce on the Side diners might take a moment to appreciate two groovy visuals at the restaurant: the wooden tables, handmade by the owners, and the ornate filigree of downtown’s Mark Twain Building (above left), which houses the business.
Sauce on the Side
eatcalzones.com (in development)