Excuse me while I gushed unreservedly. The offerings at “Those Pizza Guys” are so good, and the people who work there so damn nice, that they really deserve more exposure.
It was Waterloo butcher Rob Brady who told me about These Pizza Guys (TPG). Brady sells frozen pizzas customized to his needs by the TGP team. He suggested I go to St. Jacobs to try their “Return of the Mac” pizza, straight out of the oven, for something unique.
In St. Jacobs shortly after, I came to try it. TPG is located across from the village’s iconic silos, just off the main street and next to residential housing, where tolerant – and I assume well-fed – neighbors get their lawns mowed before lunch service begins.
The return of the Mac was a deconstruction of the famous burger. It included ground beef, garlic oil, American mozzarella and cheese, pickles, a special sauce, and even shredded fresh lettuce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
The member of staff taking my order had been helpful, but when I inquired about specific drink options, it was a breastfeeding mother at one of the tables who answered knowingly.
Lori Tessaro runs the place with her husband, Pete, and business partner Chris Banks. After years in the hospitality industry, including running a mobile pizzeria across Ontario for six years, they opened in St. Jacobs for take-out only in mid-2020. This year is effectively their first as a only restaurant on site.
TPG’s pies – all cost $14 – feature dough fermented for at least 24 hours, baked in a wood-fired oven operating at over 750 F. The high heat results in a short baking time and a nice “leopardized” finish. the dough, black and light spots sign of an excellent pizza. Tessaro bet me I’d never look at a Big Mac the same way again, and I suspect she might be right.
Obviously a single pizza doesn’t warrant a full review, but I found myself thinking how good it had been over the next few days and how much I’d like to try some more of the dozen pizzas – including the feature pies – they offer.
We enjoyed a large house salad ($11) made with fresh romaine and kale lettuce, chickpeas, red onions, tomatoes and a balsamic maple dressing. Buyer beware, big means really big: an accompaniment would have been enough to enhance a novelty to share on their menu, Mushroom Toast ($11). The mixture of wild mushrooms with rosemary, parmesan, parsley, confit garlic and fiore di latte, came on ciabatta and was full of flavor.
We followed that up with two pizzas, a Greek Freak – featuring salted olives, artichokes and feta – and an Aloha. I’m definitely on the “pineapple team” and enjoyed the extra toppings of prosciutto and homemade BBQ sauce. TPG pizzas tend to be quite thin and light. For true aficionados, Pete describes them as being like a hybrid Neapolitan and New York pie. No matter the technical details, we polished them with relish.
Chatting with Banks and the Tessaros afterwards, I said they really should have pizza for dessert too. It turned out that they did. It was easily overlooked being simply called S’mores, in the shareable section of the menu.
The team quickly whipped one up while I was interviewing them, and it was a revelation. It looked like a piece of boletus had popped out of the crust. Dark chocolate chips and graham crackers were there as accents, and the effect and taste was almost magical. The S’mores pizza alone is worth a visit to St. Jacobs. Be careful though: this pizza does not go well with mustaches.
TPG deserves to be at full capacity every day but, unfortunately, it’s not. Still. Their tenure as a dining venue was short-lived, and the location in St. Jacobs isn’t entirely obvious from the main street. Pete Tessaro describes St. Jacobs as having its ups and downs, wryly observing that there isn’t much nightlife in St. Jacobs and the winters are dead.
Waterloo Region pizza lovers, it’s time to help change that.
Those pizza guys
9 Front Street, St. Jacobs
instagram, Twitter: @thosepizzaguys
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 7 p.m.; Friday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Get your food: Counter service on site or to take away. The interior — with a small library of pizza books — seats just eight people, while the lovely patio has 24 seats, some covered or shaded by tall trees and umbrellas.
The law project: $87 (taxes included but no tip) for an appetizer, three pizzas, a cider ($8) and two bottles of sparkling water ($5).
Payment: Cash, debit or all major credit cards
Accessibility: The converted residence is surrounded by a sturdy deck, including a ramp for easy access, whether for a mum cleaning tables while rolling her baby in a stroller, a wheelchair user or simply someone who has trouble with stairs. One of the two bathrooms is spacious, well appointed and has automatic door openers/locks.
To note: TPG executives have invested in wine and beer certification programs and offer an interesting rotating beverage selection. They also have a one-minute deal with Block 3 Brewing, making pizza for their customers. At Brady’s Meat and Deli, get the signature ‘Roberto’ at home, loaded – featuring the butcher’s tangy Italian sausage. … At TPG, parking is limited near the restaurant, as well as in the streets.
Ordering food in the time of coronavirus: As restaurants make day-to-day decisions, please check their social media or call them for updates. Lists of restaurants open during dining room closures are available at https://bit.ly/3d2JV74 and wilmotstrongertogether.ca; a crowdsourced list can be found on Facebook’s Food In The Waterloo Region at bit.ly/3d1cKAX