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‘You have to make it with love’: New York-style pizzeria brings slice of scratch-made passion to South Hall
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D'Villa's Italian Pizzeria owner Felix Sanchez prepares a pizza Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at the Italian restaurant along Friendship Springs Boulevard in South Hall County. - photo by Scott Rogers

At D’Villa’s Italian Pizzeria, love is more than an emotion implied with customary greetings and hand-tossed pies; it’s a credo.

A newcomer to the South Hall dining scene, the New York-style pizzeria embellishes its scratch-made dough with homemade sauces and fresh ingredients. But what sets them apart from all the rest, according to owners Felix and Yojana Sanchez, is simple: “The passion.”

“If you don’t make it with passion, you’re just making it to make it,” Yojana said. “You have to make it with love.”

D’Villa’s Italian Pizzeria

Where: 7378 Friendship Springs Blvd., Flowery Branch

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday

More info: dvillasitalianpizzeria.com

At D’Villa’s, customers can find a variety of pizza, pastas, Italian subs, stromboli, calzones, salads and wings, though, according to Felix, one can’t go wrong with the Margherita pizza, chicken penne vodka or meat lasagna.

“We have a little bit for every kind of taste,” Yojana said. “You don’t have to be a pizza lover; you can love pasta and still come and get something really good here. We have everything for the family, from little kids to older adults. It’s a very family-centered concept.”

The Sanchezes have been wed to one another — and the restaurant industry — for 20 years. 

“We love the restaurant business; it’s what we know how to do, and we try to do it right,” Yojana said. “We started together and our dreams have grown.”

According to Yojana, Felix is the innovator, the one who pushes things forward, while she ensures they stay on par. Together, they have two sons, ages 16 and 7, and share ownership of Italian Pie in Dacula with a business partner.

D’Villa’s is the couple’s first independent venture, and according to Yojana, it’s about as close to New York pizza one can get without visiting the Big Apple. 

While Yojana has family in Long Island and Perth Amboy, New Jersey, neither of them have Italian roots — just a deep and undying love for the cuisine. That, and a close circle of Italian friends who don’t mind critiquing their recipes.

“It’s culture; it’s very unique, just the passion that they pour into making their food,” Yojana said. “Every detail really counts.”

With that same passion and precision, D’Villa’s aims to give customers a culinary experience that’s less like a run-of-the-mill restaurant and more like a home-cooked meal shared amongst kinfolk.

“Our customers are part of our family; without them, we wouldn’t be in business,” Yojana said. “We want them to stop, take a seat, take a minute to breathe. Savor their food, enjoy their food. We’re not here to tell them to come in and get out. No; we’re here for them to enjoy the food and feel that we care about them, because we do.”

Over time, the Sanchezes plan to expand D’Villa’s beyond a single restaurant, but they said they don’t plan to compromise the quality of their ingredients or customer service.

As first-generation immigrants — Yojana from Peru and Felix from Mexico — the Sanchezes have worked hard to make their dreams come true, and their investment is paying off.

“Just because you can’t do something at one point in your life doesn’t mean you stop there,” Yojana said. “It means that you push harder, because you’re the only one that stops yourself. Nobody else can stop you.”

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D'Villa's Italian Pizzeria owner Felix Sanchez prepares a pizza Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at the Italian restaurant along Friendship Springs Boulevard in South Hall County. - photo by Scott Rogers
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D'Villa's Italian Pizzeria owner Yojana Sanchez prepares a customer's ticket Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at the South Hall Italian restaurant along Friendship Springs Boulevard in South Hall. - photo by Scott Rogers