I've been giving myself a treat once a week during my weight loss and subsequent "holding" of weight during this past summer. Those treats usually involve a pizza. Not a deep dish or thick crust pizza, but one where the crust is thin, light and crispy. While in Louisville, I'd done a little investigative work and found a new place called Perfetto Pizzeria just off of I-64 at S. Hurstbourne in what appeared to be a sort of upscale strip mall. (see map)
Pizza in Louisville is an art form. Aside from the two Impellizeri's places I've visited (read about Tony's place here, and Benny's place here), there's a number of other places that offer a "Louisville-style" which is basically "New York-style thin crust pizza and pile on the toppings". Some of the better pizzas during my travels have come from Louisville. Perfetto's doesn't really do anything different from the "Louisville-style" that I've had. They just add to a growing list of pretty good pizza places already in the area.
Dan Heride was an automaker in Wisconsin - first working in an assembly plant in Racine. When that plant was shut down, Dan and his wife, Cyndi, moved to Mineral Point for Dan to work in a factory that made auto parts. That plant eventually shut down, as well. The Heride's were without work and in their early 50's when they decided to move to Louisville to be closer to their daughter and her family. They toyed with the idea of opening their own restaurant, but they had never worked at a restaurant before, let alone owned a restaurant.
It turns out the Heride's had a connection in the food and restaurant community in Louisville. Their daughter is Danni Waldridge who is the owner and chef of Divinity Fine Catering, one of the premier catering outfits in the region. The opportunity arose for them to take over a small pizza parlor that had housed a couple of defunct pizza restaurants. All the equipment was there - the oven, roller, prep tables. It was nearly a turnkey operation for them. The Heride's opened in the Spring of this year hoping that the third time for a pizza joint in the space would be the charm.
The Heride's are basically the only people who work through the week at Perfetto Pizzeria (which gets it's name from the Italian word for "perfect"). Dan Heride told me that they're usually there at 9:00 to 9:30 in the morning Tuesday thru Friday (they open at 4 p.m. on Saturday - closed Sunday and Monday) to accept the shipment of fresh ingredients from the food purveyor. They then turn on the ovens around 10:30 and begin to cook pizzas soon thereafter. They sell pizza by the slice during the noon hours through the week and I understand it's a growing business.
It was about 8:15 when I walked into Perfetto. Two couples were seated at tables and I didn't know if I could seat myself or I needed to be seated. Only Dan Heride was behind the counter - his wife nowhere to be seen. I went to the counter and Dan asked if I needed anything. I took a look at the menu and immediately ordered a 12" (which they call a "medium") sausage, pepperoni and mushroom pizza - my reference toppings for pizza. I asked if it was too late to eat in and Dan said, "Oh, no. Not at all. We don't close for another 45 minutes."
I got a bottle of Bud Light from him and took a seat in the dining room. Perfetto's Pizza is not a big place - it holds, maybe, about 35 to 40 people. But it has sort of a "pizza parlor" feel to it with the checkered table cloths and the comfortable seating.
While Dan makes the pizzas, sandwiches and other nightly specials, Cyndi wears the many hats of waitress, table busser, dishwasher, etc. Dan told me that many nights they don't get out of there until 10:30 p.m. through the week and closer to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights when they close at 10:00. He told me, "My daughter and grandchildren help out on the weekends. We can get pretty busy."
I immediately got the sense that I had breached protocol at Perfetto's by by-passing Dan's wife and ordering directly from Dan behind the counter. She never once acknowledged my presence in the dining room. I thought it to be rather odd considering that she was rushing past me every so often and she never did ask how I was doing or if I wanted another bottle of beer when my Bud Light was empty as I was waiting for the pizza. I just figured that she was busy as all get out and Dan, on the other hand, would poke his head over the counter and ask if I needed anything. He brought me out another bottle of Bud Light just before my pizza was ready.
When it was ready, Dan brought it out and set it on the table. Already, I liked the looks of the pizza - big chunks of sausage, lots of pepperoni and mushroom and a ton of cheese that had caramelized magnificently in the oven. There was going to be no way that I could finish this whole thing in one sitting.
While the hand-tossed crust was a little thicker than what I'd refer to as "New York-style", it wasn't all that thick either. Actually, the crust was about the only disappointment as it was sort of chewy. But the toppings were fresh, flavorful and plentiful. The sausage used at Perfetto had a nice taste to it and the chunks were good-sized, just as I like. As I thought, there was no way I could eat the whole thing, so I had Dan box up the remainder as I had a refrigerator and a micro-wave back in my room. Perfetto pizza could be a late night snack or breakfast during my stay in Louisville.
As I paid for dinner at the cash register - Cyndi Heride still never acknowledged my presence during my visit - we got to talking about how Dan had ended up in Louisville. He said, "Well, the car industry had gone to shit. I had about 30 years into it when the rug was pulled out. We decided to do something different with our lives and control our own destiny."
He said they'd been open about 3 1/2 months and that business was steadily improving. He said, "We don't have a web site, yet. We're not really doing a lot of advertising, so we're just sort of relying upon word of mouth to get people in."
Dan asked how I liked the pizza and I said, "Well, I'm from the Quad Cities and I wish you guys would have moved down from Mineral Point to Davenport because I'm telling you - this would be the best pizza in the Quad Cities."
By this time, Cyndi Heride - who was putting chairs on the tables and sweeping up the tiled floor - came over to where we were talking. She enthusiastically asked, "You really liked our pizza?"
I said, "I'm not kidding, this would be the best in the Quad's."
Cyndi said, "We considered moving to the Quad Cities, but we wanted to be closer to our grandchildren. Be sure to stop back in the next time you're in town."
While I don't know if Perfetto Pizzeria has the best pizza in Louisville, they do a fine job. I'm hoping they'll work some of the kinks out of the process and eventually get to the point where they do have one of the best pizzas in the area. I'll have to give them a few more months and try them again when I get down to Louisville next spring.
At least, I'm hoping that the Heride's make a go of the place so they'll still be there for me to try next spring...