Not surprisingly for a college town, restaurants that serve pizza aren’t exactly a rarity in Lawrence. There are half a dozen pizza places just at the intersection of Sixth and Wakarusa, and Massachusetts Street downtown is dotted with pizza joints like pepperoni on a heavily laden slice of pie.
But Pizza Tascio, a new pizzeria coming soon to 1004 Massachusetts St., is different, according to owner Erik Borger.
“It’s actually authentic New York pizza,” said Borger, who already operates two Pizza Tascio locations in the Kansas City area. “I spent a year of life perfecting New York style. We just got named ‘best New York-style slice’ by Kansas City mag.”
For all the pizza choices in Lawrence, few come close to authentic New York style, with the exceptions of Morningstar’s at Sixth and Wakarusa and the branch of the Sbarro chain in the newly opened Kwik Shop on Iowa Street.
“Being from New York, pizza has always been the highlight of life,” Borger told Kansas City magazine. “We could get the local pizzeria’s pizza instead of school lunch in elementary school. It was just ingrained in life. Coming out here, it was a culture shock.”
New York pizza is typically characterized by a thin, hand-tossed crust and simple toppings: tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a meat or two. Beyond the ingredients, Borger calls it “pizza for the masses — whole pies and pizza by the slice and something for everyone.”
“Everyone should be able to afford a slice of pizza,” he said. “A homeless man should be able to stand next to a Wall Street executive and eat the same thing. There should be no dichotomy; that’s what New York pizza is.”
Both current Pizza Tascio locations (North Kansas City and St. Joseph) boast a high saturation of positive Yelp reviews. Customers should expect prices to be on par with other pizzerias around town. Borger says his 18-inch pizzas will sell for around $20-$30, depending on local ingredients and their prices, and individual slices will cost $4 or $5.
As yet, Borger doesn’t have a set date for opening, pending permitting and construction, but says he’ll get going based on “whatever the fine city of Lawrence allows.”
Borger says he’s been looking forward to opening a location in Lawrence for a while.
“I’ve always loved Lawrence and Mass Street,” he said. “There’s a great vibe to the city. I’ve always wanted to expand, but now is the time.”
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Jack Ritter (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student-journalist at Lawrence High School currently serving as the editor-in-chief for The Budget Online.