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The Dallas-based fast-casual pizzeria chain launched its first Florida location in Estero. Tim Aten

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The latest trend of fast-casual pizzerias is making its way to Southwest Florida.

Pie Five Pizza Co., a Dallas-based chain, launched its first Florida location in June across U.S. 41 from Coconut Point in Estero. MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Co., a more upscale version of the personal pizza concept, plans to open in mid-September in Coconut Point.

It may not be long before other fast-casual pizza chains – Blaze, MOD, Pieology, PizzaRev, Uncle Maddio’s and others – make their way here.

These “better pizzas” created in less than 5 minutes are a far cry from microwaved cardboard disks of yore. The newcomers are made to order with fresh ingredients and quickly oven-baked at extremely high temperatures.

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But unlike “better burgers,” which demand premium prices on a tier above old-school fast-food fare, this new wave of fast-casual pizzas actually costs less than established concepts. The savings come in unlimited toppings without an extra cost above the flat rate – $7.99 for Pie Five’s crispy thin, traditional Italian or classic pan crusts; $9.99 for a gluten-free crust.

While traditional pizzerias charge a base rate for a cheese pizza and $1 or $2 or so for each additional topping, Pie Five’s 10-inch creations – no matter what the topping combination – are always the same price.

 

Similar to assembly-line ordering common for Chipotle burritos, Subway sandwiches and other create-your-own chains, Pie Five patrons fully customize pizzas by selecting from a lineup of 40 fresh toppings and seven sauces. The handcrafted pies bake in only about 5 minutes – hence the pizzeria’s name.

► Pie Five's menu

Sauce selections are Tuscan marinara, spicy sriracha marinara, barbecue, Buffalo ranch, ranch, olive oil and Alfredo. Cheese choices are whole milk mozzarella, cheddar, shredded Parmesan, ricotta and vegan.

Meat toppings feature pepperoni, grilled chicken, Canadian bacon, beef, Italian sausage, chicken sausage, bacon and meatballs. The more than 15 vegetable toppings include the usual suspects, plus corn, Roman and grape tomatoes, Kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts.

 

Pie Five also offers seven “fresh finishes” – fresh basil, chopped cilantro, basil pesto drizzle, crushed red pepper, sun-dried tomato puree, feta cheese and magic dust, a signature blend of Parmesan, Romano, Provolone and Italian seasoning.

Signature pizzas and salads also are available, as are create-your-own salads, for the same $7.99 price. Sides include garlic butter or cheesy breadsticks and desserts. The eatery even has a half dozen beers and a few wine selections.

Pie Five has joined the Coconut Trace restaurant chain lineup that already includes Pei Wei, Pollo Tropical, First Watch, Chipotle and Zoës Kitchen. The retail collection is on the west side of U.S. 41 north of Coconut Road.

 

Pie Five, 22905 Lyden Drive, Estero, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call 239-301-0490 or go to piefivepizza.com.

 

MidiCi

Progress is being made with the first area location of MidiCi pizzeria since the chain’s plans to locate here this fall were announced in this column a month ago.

Last week during a public hearing, the Estero Planning and Zoning Board approved MidiCi’s requests to serve beer and wine and to provide outdoor seating. MidiCi will have 51 seats outside on a 922-square-foot patio in addition to its 73 seats inside the 3,491-square-foot restaurant, the floor plan shows.

MidiCi is being constructed in retail units between Panera Bread and Starbucks near the main entrance of Coconut Point off U.S. 41. The lunch-dinner eatery is being built out in spaces vacated by a closed GameStop shop and a relocated Hair Cuttery salon.

The modern pizzeria chain, which launched just two years ago in Los Angeles, is positioned as a fast-casual restaurant with a fine-dining atmosphere in a category the company defines as “fast fine.” Diners create personalized 12-inch Neapolitan pizzas baked in wood-fired ovens in just 90 seconds.

►MidiCi's pizza menu

Expect to learn more about MidiCi as its local opening nears.

“We are actively searching for a prime location in Naples for our second MidiCi restaurant,” said John Wysseier, who will co-own the area restaurant franchises with his wife, Dina.

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Enjoy this quick takeout on the latest local pizzeria info. Tim Aten

 

More local pizzeria news

 

Joey D’s Italian Restaurant & Bar opened July 17 on Marco Island. 

It was the fourth local restaurant for owners Joseph and Jennifer DiPascale, but the Joey D’s location in the Publix-anchored Brooks Village retail center at Collier Boulevard and Pine Ridge Road closed July 23. Other Joey D’s locations are in North Naples and East Naples.

On Marco, the DiPascales gutted the Pelican Plaza space that briefly was Seven-O-One Bistro & Lounge and was the longtime home of Porky’s Restaurant and Lounge on Bald Eagle Drive. The Marco location is considerably larger than the original Joey D’s that opened in 1998 and later expanded on Immokalee Road.

The size of the newest restaurant’s kitchen and pizza area are larger, which created more space for a catering operation. The lounge side also is larger with more seating around the bar and more TV screens, Joey DiPascale said.

The scratch menu includes specialty and customized New York-style thin-crust pizzas “direct from the shores of Seaside Heights, New Jersey,” as well as deep-dish pizzas. Joey D’s also has Italian pasta specialties and baked entrees; seafood, chicken and veal entrees; cold and hot subs, wraps, salads and appetizers.

The new Joey D’s, 701 Bald Eagle Drive is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. The business is closed Mondays during the summer.

For more information, call 239-389-5639 or go to joeydsnaples.com.

 

Marco’s Pizza opened its second Collier County location July 18 in Baldridge Plaza on Trail Boulevard in North Naples. The Italian-American restaurant chain based in Toledo, Ohio, opened this region’s first location in early 2013 on Collier Boulevard in Golden Gate.

Both Collier County stores are owned by Marco’s Italian-born founder, Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco, who also owns condos in Naples. Marco’s claim to fame starts with its freshly made dough, Giammarco’s sauce recipe that hasn't changed since the pizza chain’s founding in 1978, and a special three-cheese blend.

In addition to its specialty and customized pizzas, Marco’s menu offers freshly baked sub sandwiches, wings and boneless chicken, salads, breadsticks and more for dine-in, carryout, delivery and catering.

Marco’s other regional locations in Bonita Springs, Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral are among its nearly 1,000 stores in 35 states.

The new Marco’s Pizza, 7700 Trail Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. A grand opening celebration 1 to 4 p.m. this Sunday will feature free pizza, face painting and a live band.

For more information or to place an order, call 239-598-1114 or go to marcos.com.

 

Leoni's Pizzeria opened another area location at the end of season in Bonita Springs. Leoni’s has longtime regional locations with the same menu in San Carlos Park and North Naples.

In addition to pizza, Leoni’s menu features pasta and Italian specialties and even some Mexican favorites such as burritos, fajitas, nachos, quesadillas and soft tacos. The restaurant also has appetizers, Buffalo wings, burgers, sandwiches, subs and wraps.

Leoni’s new location on Bonita Beach Road replaced the short-lived Antica Trattoria Italian restaurant. That space west of U.S. 41 has been occupied over the years by many other restaurants and bars, including D's Sports Bar & Grille, Tiki Bar Cafe, Jimber's Sports Bar and Grill, Ziti's Restaurant and even a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

Leoni’s Pizzeria, 4131 Bonita Beach Road, is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 239-947-4900 or go to leonispizza.com.

 

Martinelli's Pizzeria closed June 28 after operating for five years in The Brooks Town Center on Coconut Road in Estero.

“My lease was up and unfortunately it was a little bit out of our range,” said owner Tony Britto, who also owns five Napoli on the Bay pizzerias in Collier County. “It was a very tough location. I kept trying and trying. It was sad because I put so much time and money into it.”

The space previously had been Brewista Coffee House in that shopping center anchored by Winn-Dixie supermarket.

For the latest in local restaurants coming and going, see Tim Aten’s “In the Know” columns archived at naplesnews.com/intheknow, and on Facebook at facebook.com/timaten.intheknow.

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