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Pie high: New pizzeria flourishing in Charlemont

Berkshire Pizza has opened in Charlemont center with employees Craig Bryant, Ilyza Mann, manager Seth Martin tossing a pie, and Holly Brown.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Berkshire Pizza has opened in Charlemont center with employees Craig Bryant, Ilyza Mann, manager Seth Martin tossing a pie, and Holly Brown. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

CHARLEMONT — Just two weeks after it opened, Berkshire Pizzeria is already thinking about expanding.

For now, this new pizzeria has nine booths and tables, but plans are in the works to add a deck, for outdoor dining, a walkway and more parking spaces in back. The back deck would have views of the mountains, the river and of Berkshire East, where the zip line canopy tours will soon be running and a new mountain coaster track is under construction.

“We’re almost at maximum capacity,” said General Manager Seth Martin. “This town is just on fire right now. I love it.”

Business owner Greg Rowehl, who lives in Hawley and in Manhattan, said he’s been surprised at how busy the shop is — and it’s not even rafting season yet. “We just hired three more people last week,” he said, in a telephone interview. “We haven’t had our busy season yet.”

Rowehl leased the building last October and has been renovating the building until it opened April 4. He said about 70 percent of the business is take-out, and most have been local residents. “Of course, we have a lot of people driving from point A to B who see the sign and stop. “Pizza is a perfect car food,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of repeat customers. I never thought it would be this busy, but we are.”

Three full-time and 11 part-time employees are now running the shop, which serves five variations of pizza, plus calzones, hot wings, burgers, sub sandwiches and wraps. Soft-serve ice cream will be coming with the warmer weather. Rowehl said he is converting an Airstream camper into an “ice-stream” ice cream stand outside the pizzeria.

Seth Martin honed his pizza-making skills at Country Pie Pizza in Ashfield, soon after his 17th birthday, and has been making pies for 15 years. Another chef is Craig Bryant, who has worked at the former Tusk ’N Rattle and Ollie’s Down Under in Shelburne Falls.

Berkshire Pizzeria pies are baked in a brick oven with an open flame at 600 degrees. Martin describes the thin-crust pizzas as “New York style, with a touch of Neopolitan to it.”

While whole pizza pies are a mainstay, slices are also sold daily until 5 p.m. and made be available later in the day, if there’s a demand for it. “We’re trying to get a grasp of where the crowd is,” he said. “In summer, we may have slices until 6 p.m., to accommodate the (river) tuber-traffic.”

“The Beast” is a pizza named for Berkshire East, which has been nicknamed “The Beast.” This pizza has pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, roasted red peppers, broccoli, olives and cheddar cheese on it. Other styles include The Berkshire (spinach, pepperoni, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tomato and garlic), veggie pizza, margarita, which has tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil. There is also a “taco” pizza with hamburger, cheddar cheese, olives and peppers. There are five salad offerings as well as cannoli, brownies and cheesecake for dessert.

Berkshire Pizzeria is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.

It’s located at 72 Main St. and the phone number is 337-5501.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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