As the follow-up act to the Inman Square darling All Star Sandwich Bar, brother-owners Kosta and Johnny Diamantopoulos opened All Star Pizza Bar just a couple doors down at the end of last month. Just in time for Pizza Week! The new restaurant has quickly won fans for its wildly original pies, like the Buffalo duck confit, and for top-notch a la carte toppings like pickled Fresno chilies and white Sicilian anchovies. There are also items that hop across Prospect Street from one restaurant to the other, like the Atomic meat loaf, appearing in both sandwich and pizza form at the two restaurants. Eater spoke with Kosta Diamantopoulos about week one.
How was the first week? I think the appropriate word is insanity. We sold out of food two of the first three days we were open. Insanity describes the overall emotion, and it was also very humbling to see how much love and how much appreciation our fan base showed when they came in there. It was all 'congratulations, I've been counting the days, I've been following you on Twitter, I couldn't wait for you to open, thank you for opening.' So it was extremely, extremely humbling to actually see that much love and appreciation. And it's a tribute to our fan base: they really are as awesome as we say they are.
How is doing pizza different from sandwiches? Well the sandwiches, at the moment, are far more creative than the pizzas that we're putting out. We have a list of chef specials that are super creative, but they're small: there are only eight. Across the street at the sandwich bar our specials are our specials, then we have the funky/extra funky categories, which rotate in and out every few days, so the amount of work involved with creating and executing the sandwiches is far more labor intensive that with the pizzas, at the moment.
What's extra funky right now? Across the street, at the sandwich bar we have a banh mi of sorts. I don't know, I haven't been there in a week - I'm here all day!
What's the most popular pizza? Right now, the most popular is the Buffalo duck confit.
How's it made? Chef John confits the duck, we pull it apart, toss it in our Buffalo sauce, and then it's added as a topping before cooking, with Maytag blue cheese, and then when the pizza comes out it's got pickled celery on it as well. It's a really good pizza.
What made you want to do pizza? There are a few reasons. I think the top three are that one, we grew up in pizza. It's something that we've always known and enjoyed. Our parents owned a pizzeria for a number of years. Two, I think the neighborhood called for it, and three, I wanted to eat more pizza. I honestly wanted to eat more pizza.
Knowing what you do now, if you could have given yourself advice for the opening, what would it be? I would probably advise me to think more of the actual construction process, about how much I wanted to do. And what I mean by that is that when I bought the space from the previous owner, the scope of the project wasn't as involved as it ended up being, but as we started doing work, we uncovered things that needed to be addressed. The floors needing to be supported for the big oven, the utilities being under-sized, so things of that nature. So the advice would be just scratch everything and make everything brand new, which we ultimately did, but it wasn't the original scope of the project. It was a beautification project that turned into a total gut/rehab.
Any menu changes so far? Yeah, we've actually started rolling out some specials for the day. Yesterday it was pork belly carbonara. A couple days ago chef did a ricotta with apple-fennel sausage and (hollers) - Joe, what was in that? - fresh basil. The day before we did a meatball broccoli rabe. Which isn't that fancy, but the quality of those two flavors with their combination is just awesome.
Any plans for the future? We have a whole menu dedicated to funky/extra-funky, but we're also going to ask our friends in the industry to get involved contributing pizzas that represent their restaurant, so a Tupelo Southern-style pizza, East Coast Grill pizza from Hell, Will Gilson's going to give us something that bridgestreet's going to represent, Brandon over at Garden at the Cellar's going to give us something, Suzi over at Trina's is going to give us something, so we're going to get all these friends of ours in the industry to contribute a pizza that's representative of their restaurant. And the kicker is we're going to do a fantasy football style, where the pizza that sells the least over the course of a month gets booted.
What's in the position to be booted so far? We have no clue yet. We still need to figure out whether we need one dishwasher or two dishwashers.
· All coverage of Pizza Week [~EBOS~]
· All coverage of All Star Pizza Bar [~EBOS~]