Bringing the best of both worlds, David Schilling’s new pizza restaurant offers a taste of his upbringing in New York and a dose of Chicago.
“I’m from Brooklyn, so it’s the flavors of my youth that you’re eating over here,” Schilling said.
Located on 3320 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville, Manhattan Chicago Pizzeria officially opened on Feb. 19.
The restaurant provides a choice of either Chicago deep-dish or New York pizza.
For the New York-style pizza, people can choose from a variety of sizes, from a small 12-inch pan to a whopping 24-inch.
“It barely fits through your door,” Schilling said while picking up the giant pizza.
Like the pizza people would expect to get on the streets of Manhattan, Schilling’s New York pizza is thin and foldable.
As for the Chicago deep-dish, people need a fork and knife to tackle its thick crust. Schilling said he gained inspiration to make this style of pizza from his brother, who lives in Chicago.
Baked in a round steel pan — similar to a cake pan — Schilling said the deep-dish pizza requires a longer bake time compared to New York pizza.
Assembling the pizza in the style’s characteristic upside-down method, he first covers the crust with mozzarella cheese. He follows that by adding the meat or vegetable options, another sprinkling of cheese and finishing with a layer of tomato sauce.
Since the pizza takes longer to cook, this approach is typical of the Chicago style to assure that the cheese and other ingredients don’t burn.
Schilling said the spinach, goat cheese and mozzarella deep-dish is the most popular pizza at his other restaurants.
The pizza prices range from $8.99 to $29.99, depending on the style and size. People have the choice of dining in, delivery or carry-out.
Manhattan Chicago Pizzeria offers other menu items like garlic rolls, salad, pasta, subs and calzones. All of the dough is made from scratch.
Schilling said the first Manhattan Chicago Pizzeria, located in Miami, opened in 2011, under different ownership. It wasn't until June 2015 that his wife, Rosaura, became the owner. Schilling has lived in Miami for more than 40 years.
Instead of earning a culinary degree, he honed his cooking skills while working on the point of sale and security side of the restaurant industry.
“Each chef shows you their tricks,” he said. “All of my culinary experience has been living in kitchens and restaurants all over the world. I’m from the back end of the business. I protect restaurant owners from people who devise methods to steal from them.”
Schilling said he first fell in love with Gainesville while driving through the the town on his way from Miami to Maggie Valley, N.C.
He purchased a lake house in Gainesville with his wife, and heard from his realtor about an available space formerly occupied by a pizzeria.
When Schilling took one look at the vacant spot and noticed its similarities to his other restaurants, the rest was history.
Once the weather warms up, he plans to offer outdoor seating. Schilling said he aims to create a restaurant comfortable for “the whole family.”
“We want to bring great pizza,” he said. “We want this to be a place to come in with your kids. I like the family Italian style.”
Manhattan Chicago Pizza is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. People can contact the business at 470-252-5228.