Charlie Messina, owner of Doraldo’s Ristorante Italiano, noticed customers kept asking him about getting a slice of pizza instead of the whole pie.
So he decided to open a pizza place with his business partner, Alonzo Martinez.
Little Charlie’s Pizza opened Jan. 13.
“I’ve been in the business many years,” Messina said. “I felt it was really time to put a pizza place ––– North style.”
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Messina worked in his father’s pizzeria in 1967 and moved to Williamsburg with his wife and three children in 1997.
He has owned several restaurants at Kilmarnock, Kiln Creek and near William & Mary and has either leased them or sold them to other restaurant owners.
The goal of the pizzeria is to make it more convenient and cheaper for people to have a good quality meal, Messina said.
“You don’t have to spend $20 to have a whole lunch,” he said, adding customers can get a couple of slices and a drink instead of buying an entire pie.
The “70s-80s-style New York pizzeria” is in the Governor Green Shopping Center, next to Nails by Nicole and near the Harris Teeter grocery store.
Inside, customers can approach the counter and place their order for a fresh pie or order a couple of slices. There is a soda fountain machine toward the right hand corner of the restaurant and several tables along the wall if people want to stay and eat.
Customers can see the pizza makers reheat slices displayed on the countertop, protected by glass, or watch staff hand toss dough and make fresh pies before placing them in one of the two gray industrial style ovens typically featured in New York pizzerias.
Customers can choose from traditional pizzas like plain, pepperoni and “Grandma” style, a thin crust square pizza with extra sauce, to other toppings like rigatoni vodka, Philadelphia cheesesteak, buffalo wild wings and even french fries pizza.
Messina named the new business after his grandson, Charlie Hyde, a third generation chef.
Future plans including adding delivery service, hosting pizza making cooking class from kids 10 years and younger and community outreach.
But for now, customers can pick up their pizza at the shop.
Messina also plans on adding a website and Facebook page for Little Charlie’s Pizza.
So what separates this pizzeria from others on the Peninsula?
“We put our heart and soul into making our sauces, our customer service,” Messina said. “We do hand-tossed pizza, we make our own dough, we make our own sauces, we make everything from scratch.”
“We want to be a traditional neighborhood pizzeria,” Messina added. “The customer is not a number to us.”
Little Charlie’s Pizza, 4511 John Tyler Highway, is open Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The restaurant is currently hiring pizza makers. To apply or place a pizza order for pick up, call 757-259-7955.