Pizza Box: A Family Affair
St. Pete’s Pizza Box is the Best in Town!
Pizza Box: A Family Affair that is perfect for pizza lovers from all over! My wife is from Chicago and I am from New York. Thus, our tastes in pizza are not the same. However, one thing about America’s favorite pizza pie we do agree on is that St. Pete’s Pizza Box on Central Avenue, is the best in town.
Next month this small restaurant in the city’s Edge District, the Pizza Box, will be celebrating its fourth anniversary. Everything about the food here is fresh and of the highest quality. Recently I sat down with Kelley Duff, who along with her husband Adam, have created a small but thriving eatery where customers can be assured of the best and freshest ingredients that produce unique but scrumptious pies.
Each of the couple who own St. Pete’s Pizza Box, were born in the Tampa Bay area, and after a stint cooking at a historic inn in New Hampshire, they decided to return to their roots. They thought about a food truck, but then made the wise choice to purchase a Le Panyol clay oven from France and rent out a stationary location. They cook over oak wood and cherry chips to produce smoky but also tangy and sweet pies and meatballs. Pies are baked at 700-750 degrees for several minutes. However, before the food even hits the heat, there is lots of attention to detail in producing a great culinary experience.
First, the Pizza Box only uses artisan bread flour from King Arthur Flour, an employee-owned company in Norwich, Vermont, and Zephyrhills spring water. Next, they use a hygrometer to check the humidity. This makes a difference in how long the yeasty dough rises. All of the sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes and cheeses and pepperoni are from Boar’s Head. The greens are sourced from Farm Fresh Produce at the St. Pete’s Pizza Box. The crust is on the thin side, but definitely not a flat bread, New York Style or Neapolitan. It has a great bite and not the least bit chewy. The sauce is savory and sweet. Dishes made with ricotta cheese are whipped with onions, garlic, and smoked paprika. There are vegan, vegetarian, and carnivore lover’s pizza. The latter is packed with meatballs and pepperoni.
Although pizza is the obvious central attraction, there is more. The meatballs are made with 100% chopped Angus Beef, cooked in the clay oven, and served over the ricotta with a rich sauce and basil. Easy E is melted goat cheese, tomato sauce, caramelized onions, habanero honey, and basil served with Griffy (baked pizza dough) sticks. There are more offerings for low-carb folks with any of their pizza toppings served as a bowl over cauliflower “rice.” A vegan pizza and seasonal salad change regularly depending upon what is in season. And if somehow you are still hungry after all this, there is a luscious desert pizza made with whipped mascarpone cheese, peak seasonal fruit and powdered sugar.
One of the few drawbacks is the small interior space and only a few outside tables at St. Pete’s Pizza Box. Disposable plates and utensils are necessary because of lack of room for a commercial dishwasher. All bowls and prep pieces are meticulously cleaned by hand. Kelley is so confident of kitchen hygiene that she told me even the health department employees eat there. I would say that is a pretty good endorsement.
When I asked her about expanding to accommodate larger parties, her only comment was that they are looking. Hopefully that will happen soon so a full liquor bar and draft craft beers can also be served. For now, we will continue to enjoy their novel and successful creations. Like I said, “best pizza in St. Pete.”
Pizza Box is located at 923 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, FL 33705. Check them out on facebook.com/pizzabox727 Tel: 727-623-0444.
Content provided by David Matokoff, photos courtesy of Pizza Box.
For something fun to do during your visit to Pizza Box check out the Mural Tour here. For another great restaurant in St. Pete check out BABA’s on Central.