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Gourmet Pizza and Classic Italian Served with Flavor at Pizzalley's Chianti Room

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Pizzalley's opened in 2000 in a St. Augustine alley and the restaurant name is a reflection of the location (pizza + alley). A family-owned business "providing the first fast-service handmade pizza on St. George Street" says Pizzalley's Chianti Room owner Tom Sheltra. Here in this St. Augustine pizzeria, you can get any number of mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas with a wide selection of gourmet toppings. "Everything is made from scratch," Sheltra proudly states.

Choose from a nice selection of slices and pies. How can you resist a pepper-themed pizza named Wonder Women with its toppings of pepperoncini, bell peppers, smoked Gouda, jalapenos, banana peppers and mozzarella? The Garbage Can tastes nothing like its name and gets its flavors from pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, sausage and black olives. You can create your own pie, too, using the many cheese, veggie and meat options.

Six years later the casual and family-friendly Chianti Room was opened portraying a rustic, old-Italy theme with a side of elegance in its brass bar accents, wine storage and open kitchen. Dine inside or outside on the airy veranda. "To give a great price point for families and make them feel comfortable in a classic warm environment, "say Sheltra, is what the restaurant is all about." With access through Pizzalley's courtyard, the 175-seat Chianti Room has its own made-from-scratch menu items featuring traditional Italian cuisine using time-tested recipes.

From appetizers to soups, salads, pastas and deserts, there is a lot to classic items to choose from. Whole pies from pizzeria area also available. Sheltra tells us he is partial to Eggplant Parmesan, but you can also order chicken and veal parmesans. Don't forget the other entrees featuring shrimp, calamari, fish or shellfish or any of the pastas. Entrees come with homemade bread, salad and your choice of side. Their kid's menu should appease even the pickiest eater. Sheltra describes the Italian Pot Roast as "like grandma's" and the "hand-cut tenderloin is smothered in Marsala sauce and covered with a bird's nest of our hand-dipped onion rings."

Sheltra believes St. Augustine is a great place to be. He tells us that he and his wife Carol "were very impressed with the quaintness and small-town feel, business environment with its great tourism-oriented Chamber [of Commerce] and city, and its historical significance."

Whether you are looking for brick-oven pizza or more traditional Italian flavors, Pizzalley's Chianti Room may be just what you need to satisfy a hungry family or those out-of-town holiday guests. Good food eaten in a charming atmosphere. What more could you ask for?

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