Steven DeFonzo is familiar with family-style pizza places and the value of a good slice, which is why he decided to open a new pizza restaurant in Williamsburg.
From the Hearth Pizza, or FTH Pizza as it is more commonly known, opened May 5 at 312 Lightfoot Road, despite setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic. Lauren DeFonzo, co-owner and Steven’s wife, said it was scary to start a new business in the middle of a health crisis but the restaurant was originally designed as a carry-out location, which made it perfect for the current environment.
What makes FTH Pizza stand out is that the creation of the pizzas is similar to a bakery, Steven said. He makes a certain amount of fresh dough balls that get made into 12-inch pizzas. The dough then sits and fements over the next 26 to 34 hours, after which it is placed in a 900-degree, wood-burning oven that can only fit three to four pizzas at a time.
“I chose [a smaller] shop for a reason,” Steven said. “I don’t want to compete with the bigger guys, I just want to come in here, do what I do and hope people will love it.”
The pizza is made with fresh ingredients that are sourced from farms in Barhamsville and a charcuterie outside of Charlottesville.
As a graduate of Johnson and Wales University’s culinary program in the 1990’s, Steven has been working for a variety of different companies using various culinary skills.
Working 70-80 hours a week and raising a family became too much and Steven DeFonzo wanted to branch out on his own, so he and his wife went out west in 2012 to look at the different wood-burning ovens, bought one and started the FTH Pizza food truck.
When the DeFonzo family moved to Williamsburg a few years ago, they gave up the food truck for a short period of time.
But Steven never gave up on his dream.
When his mother died, she left a small sum of money that helped him start a the business in a physical location.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We didn’t grow up with much, so my mother wasn’t able to give a lot, but she did give us a little bit of something and this is what I did with it. So it’s all for her.”
To order, visit FTH Pizza online.
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