By Madoline Markham
Holly White is a craftsperson. Each slice of thin crust pizza she creates is evidence of her careful handiwork. No topping is out of place. No slice is the slightest bit uneven in distribution of homemade sauce and cheese. “It has to be pretty for me; I don’t know why,” the California native said. White’s craft is the reason you come to her pizzeria.
Each hearty slice of the thin crust pizza is coated with the amount of cheese and toppings that you would have specially request at some restaurants. Three of the eight slices in a 12-inch pie will leave you more than satisfied for a meal.
The menu at Holly’s is simple: one pizza size, two sauces and eight topping options. That’s it. That’s just how White and business partner Andrew Almanza want it now. The pizza is what they want people to eat and talk about, not a salad, not any other menu item. They do offer a beer and wine list to complement the pizza though.“Holly makes everything, but her pizza is the best,” Almanza said. Before opening the restaurant, friends and family would rave about White’s pizza. White created her signature thin crust by crafting what she liked about other crusts into something distinctly hers.
“It’s different,” she said. Likewise, the red and white sauces started as basic recipes that she tweaked until they were just right.
“Friends had always said, ‘Oh, you should do that [make pizza] for a living,’” Almanza said. Together Almanza and Holly had nearly 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, so they thought they’d give the pizza business a try. After moving to Birmingham in early 2010, they found a former pizza delivery restaurant at the corner of Highway 280 and Highway 119 and remodeled it to make a dining area. By November, they were open for business.
“Many people have said it’s the best pizza they’ve had,” White said. “Even some people who don’t like pizza like it because it’s different.” Almanza said that some customers have left complimentary notes on the paper placemats.
No doubt it’s the fresh approach of Holly’s recipes that draws regulars from as far as Calera and downtown. Instead of mozzarella, White uses provolone and three “secret cheeses.” She seasons all the chicken, sausage and pepperoni. She hand chops the vegetables. She grates the cheese. She prepares everything freshly each day. “There’s no freezer in the back, only a fridge,” she said. To ensure each day’s crust and sauce batch are up to perfection, Almanza and White taste a sample pizza before serving customers.
Almanza and White’s favorite combination is white sauce, chicken, mushrooms, jalapeños and green peppers. Customers like three meats on white or red sauce. Pepperoni, mushroom and green pepper became a popular request after Holly’s sent a $5 gift certificate mailer with a picture of the combination.
Not sure whether you want white sauce or red? Get half on one side and half on the other, and adjust the toppings accordingly. Almanza recommends toppings like chicken and mushrooms on the white sauce and toppings like pepperoni and sausage and peppers on the red.
What’s next? Holly’s is adding 8-inch and 17-inch pizza size options in next couple of weeks. The owners are considering delivery service and expanding the menu one day. Holly said that she experimented with a thick crust a few weeks ago. It might make it to the menu, but it will meet this craftsperson’s meticulous standards first.
5406 Highway 280, Suite D-113
Tues., Wed., Thurs., and Sun.: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.