By Jesse Wood
March 24, 2014. Celebrating its ninth anniversary this month, Capone’s Pizza & Bar has become an institution in downtown Boone, thriving in a location that once was dubbed cursed because of the many businesses failing before “partners in crime” – Chris Staggs and Pete Shurba – opened the pizzeria in March of 2005.
“Now, people say we have a great location, but it didn’t start out like that,” Staggs said.
While the adjoining location next door to Capone’s has housed a number of come-and-gone restaurants – hopefully Nosh Café proves to be the exception – in the past decade, Capone’s has steadily become, in the words of Staggs, an institution” that is engrained in its customer’s lives.
To prove his point, Staggs points to the tables in the restaurant that are covered with a sheet of glass. Underneath the clear layer, customers have written messages or doodled on napkins. Staggs pulls out one such napkin on which a couple continues to share their evolving story together: first date 2007; proposed 2008; expecting baby 2009; happy parent of little girl 2010; still in love 2011; content with happy family 2012; and “she hasn’t kicked me out yet, haha” for 2013.
“You know it’s crazy,” Staggs said, referring not only to the restaurant’s nine years but life in general. “It goes by so quick.”
Since Capone’s opened in 2005, Staggs and Shurba have also seen a number of pizza joints come and go: CiCi’s Pizza, Flipside and Pepperoni’s – to just name a few. Staggs noted that he’s never worried about competition and always just concentrated on doing his best job, remaining steadfast to the “fundamentals” of running a restaurant – two of which are making sure quality servers are operating in a “nice, clean” restaurant.
As for the mission of the business, Staggs said that the goal is “to elevate and make a great pie.” The dough is kneaded fresh every day, so to is the sauce. All the vegetables are cut in the restaurant – not dumped from a can – and greens for the salads are prepared each morning.
“Everything is fresh and wholesome. It’s old school,” Staggs said. “It comes back to the basics. We don’t have a jingle or a mascot. It comes down to is the product worth it? That’s why we’ve been here so long. Our pizza is great. People love it, and it sells itself.”
While noting that the restaurant doesn’t use any preservatives or chemical additives, Staggs mentioned that he isn’t into some of the dietary crazes that have altered the pizza landscape in recent years.
“I like the more traditional style,” Staggs said. “I want to clog arteries. I want it to taste good. That’s the most important thing to me.”
Check out the menu here. It includes 22 gourmet, specialty pizzas like the Sicilian Connection, Bonnie & Clyde and Scarface; six different hot subs such as Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Parmesan; and a variety of pastas and turnovers like the calzone, stromboli, pesto, manicotti and cheese ravioli.
Staggs added that the hot wings were amongst the best around and that The Godfather and The Don Vito stuff pizzas were among its most unique offerings. The Don Vito, for example, is a deep dish stuffed with marinara, mozzarella and smoked provolone and two toppings. Then, a crust is added and it’s topped off with mozzarella, smoked provolone and fresh garlic.
(Staggs, who is from Florida, and Shurba of England worked together in a restaurant in Wilkesboro called Jersey’s and decided to run their own restaurant in Boone together. When Staggs was younger, he worked at a high-end Italian restaurant and learned to cook from a third-generation Italian chef.)
While the pizza sells itself, it doesn’t hurt to have a broad selection of beers, too. From your Pabst Blue Ribbon to high-gravity craft brews, Capone’s offers a diverse selection at some of the cheapest rates around. This is especially so on $2 Tuesdays, where every beer is $2 – whether it’s your favorite PBR or that $7 high-gravity beer you’ve been eyeing for some time.
Staggs said Tuesday was the slowest day of the week, so he and Shurba decided to do something to get folks to walk through the door on Tuesday. Not only does this special allow Capone’s to “burn through product” and sell some pies that might normally go unordered, it also gives customers a chance to “expand their horizons” and drink a new brew.
For more information or to check out the menu online, click here or call 828-265-1886.