I had a chance to pay some visits to Pie-Fection recently. The little pizzeria with a twist recently celebrated its one year anniversary. That’s quite an accomplishment even in good times, it’s a even bigger milestone these days.
The restaurant’s success is testament to the tenacity of the two owners, Jon Diaz and Luke Fernbach, a couple of friends from Central Florida who came up with the idea for Pie-Fection while in college. Diaz attributes it to hunger after a long drive. He said he got to his destination and said he was hungry for pizza but there was none to be found. Most people would just make a sandwich and move on — Diaz suggested to Fernbach that they start a pizza business together.
The twist that they offer is the opportunity for guests to customize their pizzas. That’s nothing new, of course. I can call just about any pizza joint in town and tell them what I want on my pie. But Pie-Fection offers a lot more customization, beginning with the type of crust (there are three varieties) and moving on to a choice of sauce from among several (11 or so) and then to the myriad toppings of meats, cheeses, vegetables and other accouterments.
Of course, none of the sauces or toppings matter if the basic pizza principles aren’t good. So I sampled a medium plain cheese pizza. And I thought it was a pretty darned good pie. The crust (I had the traditional rather than the whole wheat or garlic & herb) wasn’t too thick and doughy nor too thin and crackerlike. Just right. And there was just enough cheese to too be stringy when lifted off the pie plate but not so much as to be gloppy and heavy. I liked it.
And for those who don’t especially want or need the freedom to build their own pizza, Pie-Fection offers some preset options, including a brisket pizza made with meats from 4Rivers Smokehouse, presented with the blessings of 4Rivers owner John Rivers.
Something else that I found impressive about Pie-Fection is that it goes to the trouble of making its own sauces from scratch, and even cooks off a lot of the toppings it offers. That shows in the quality.
Besides pizzas, Pie-Fection offers build-your-own salad and pasta options. I sampled a few of those, too, and I really liked the macaroni and cheese, which also had some ground beef in it.
Pie-Fection occupies a small storefront in a little strip mall on Kirkman Road. Customers can make their selections from the menu displayed on television monitors, then step up to the production line while one of the friendly staffers builds the pie, which is then baked in a glass-front oven. The dining room is comfortable and tidy and has several televisions to keep you occupied.
Stop in and give it a try. You’ll likely see Diaz and Fernback there working on the line, that is if they’re not out making a delivery. They’re definitely hands-on entrepreneurs. Which is probably why they just celebrated their one year anniversary.
Pie-Fection is at 3120 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. Here’s a link to the Pie-Fection website. The phone number is 407-523-2200.