CARY — Tom Savitski had a game plan when he opened Tribute Pizza Place, and it wasn’t all about pizza.
For starters, the restaurant in the MacGregor Village shopping center serves breakfast, including eggs and grits.
“As far as I know, we’re the only pizza place doing breakfast,” Savitski said. “And brunch on Sunday.”
Savitski, who lives with his family in Apex, had been circling the area for a good business opportunity when he settled on a pizza concept. His objective was to create a local pizza place where employees get to know the customers and no one feels rushed.
“We want to be your place,” he said pointing out the spacious design and padded chairs. “We want customers to be able to relax and stay for an hour and a half without being uncomfortable. There’s plenty of space. We don’t want you to feel like you’re intruding.”
The decor is far from the stereotypical pizza joint. There are no photographs of New York or Chicago adorning the walls; also missing is a sports bar feel.
“Not every family wants to take the kids to a sports bar,” Savitski said. “This is a classy, nice alternative for the family.”
A bar area is separate from the main dining area, and a private dining room is available for special events.
“I’m a foodie,” Savitski said. “I’m all about fresh, fresh, fresh. Our pizza dough is made daily. Most places use frozen balls of dough, and that’s why most pizza tastes the same. It takes the art out of pizza making. It takes time and space to make it fresh.
“We use two different sauces, both made fresh in-house,” he continued. “All our toppings are fresh, not the standard pizza toppings. When you order meatballs on your pizza, those meatballs are made in-house with a family recipe that is more than 100 years old.”
The eatery also serves other Italian fare.
Savitski and general manager Carmen Tarantino, friends since their college days, say they have worked to create a comfortable space and a menu that falls somewhere in between fast food and high end.
Indoors, Tribute can accommodate 196 people, with room for large groups. There is seating for an additional 50 on the outdoor patio.
Live music is offered Friday and Saturday nights to take advantage of the outdoor space, Savitski said. Free valet parking is available on those nights.
“I thought about myself when I did this,” he said. “I hate not having parking. It ruins the moment.”
Flat-screen TVs scattered about Tribute hint at the carefully selected name.
“They have IT capability,” Savitski said. “Customers can send us pictures and we’ll put them up.”
On Father’s Day, family photos paid tribute to special men in customers’ lives.
Savitski encourages community groups to seek sponsorships from Tribute.
“I want to be the guy that sponsors the little league team,” he said. “We want this to be our customers’ place.”
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