Local restaurant stays fresh

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Fifty seconds in the 800-degree oven; just enough time to melt the cheese and crisp the crust. The most authentic pizza comes from less than a minute in wood-fired ovens and fresh, rich ingredients.

Pizzeria 712 in Orem is a part of Heirloom Restaurant Group, a company based in Utah Valley focused on using local, sustainable food. The group was started in 2007 and offers a unique dining experience, something you won’t find in every other dining option flashing along State Street.

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Taylor Mason, head chef of Pizzeria 712, prepares local seasonal ingredients for dishes to be served Tuesday evening.
Colten Soelberg and Joseph McRae were working as chef and sous chef in The Treeroom, a restaurant at Sundance, when the idea came about. Pizzeria 712 was established soon after, a restaurant that fulfilled their original vision. This vision included a rotating menu and dishes that featured local, seasonal food. There won’t be tomatoes in January, nor strawberries in December. The food follows the seasons.

Brian Thompson, a server at Pizzeria 712, has been with the restaurant since the beginning. Being so closely acquainted with the food industry has made Thompson an advocate for the philosophy, proving to him the importance of utilizing local food.

“We felt it would be in our best interest, health wise, but community as well to support our local farmers and food producers,” Thompson said. “Using local food is healthier and fresher, it makes people happy. Plus, it keeps that money local. It’s a cycle.”

The food is purchased from local farmers, including dairy, produce, meat and grains.  Once the ingredients are in-house, the preparation process is on display for restaurant patrons. Pizzeria 712’s kitchen is entirely in the open, only slightly separated from the dining area. This is an intentional element of the Pizzeria dining experience, meant to foster a more intimate relationship with the food.

“Part of what we wanted was to get people more in touch with food, to see where it comes from,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t come from a can in the back of the truck, it comes from farms. People are distant from food. We figured the closer we could get people, the more they would fall in love with it again.”

Another notable part of the Pizzeria experience is the atmosphere of the restaurant, which aligns with Pizzeria’s food philosophy. Ryan Nelson, a senior from Gig Harbor, Wash.,  studying German literature, is a loyal patron of Pizzeria, for the atmosphere as well as the food.

“Aside from the food, the ambiance and the staff help make every experience there memorable,” Nelson said. “Local art hangs on the walls and they change it frequently, bare light bulbs hang from the ceiling and the open view of the kitchen lets you watch as your food is made.”

Ultimately, the use of fresh, local food is Pizzeria’s defining characteristic. Chris Stesanciw, a line cook at Pizzeria 712, attributes the restaurant’s success to its local roots.

“There are some amazing farmers around here,” Stesanciw said. “You can taste the difference.”

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