Michael DuBois found his perfect pizza in Naples.
Naples, Florida, to be specific.
DuBois and his girlfriend were on vacation when they went to Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza for dinner.
"We had an amazing experience with the food," DuBois said. "Three days later, we came back and had another amazing experience with the food."
Dubois's initial reaction to their pizza, which is cooked in the titular coal oven?
"There's nothing like this in Ohio," he said.
Well, thanks to DuBois, now there is.
He is the owner of the first Tony Sacco's franchise in the state and it opens today at noon in the Great Lakes Mall next to the Dillard’s South building. (DuBois deliberately timed the opening to be at 12 p.m. on 12-12-12.)
DuBois sees in Tony Sacco's the combination of the food from a 1930s/1940s pizzeria and the atmosphere and service of a modern-day upscale eatery.
And the coal oven that dominates the kitchen isn't just for show.
The coal gets much hotter than any conventional oven, DuBois explained. Not only does this cook the pizza faster, but it makes the crust crispier without drying out any of the toppings.
Tony Sacco's serves more than pizza. It also offers traditional Italian appetizers, salads, sandwiches and has a full bar.
DuBois is also using his restaurant's opening as an opportunity to feed the needy. Anyone who brings a food donation to Tony Sacco's will get a $5 coupon.
The collected food will be donated to the United Way of Lake County, who will, in turn, distribute it to local food banks.