by Bonnie Williamson
Pizzas have become more and more popular over the years. You can get them frozen in supermarkets or served on a large silver platter at local pizza parlors.
How often can you actually see how your pizza is made? You know, dough throwing, the way the dough gets tossed in the air and spun around. It seems this technique has gotten lost, found only in movies or television shows. Well, visitors to Vesta Pizzeria and Family Restaurant in Boonsboro, Maryland, can enjoy a show while getting a delicious pizza, too.
“We have an open kitchen,” says Robert Bishoff, Vesta’s general manager. “You can get a behind-the- scenes look at how your pizza is made. Kids really enjoy it. Whole families come back and watch.”
Vesta caters to families, Bishoff says. After all, family is part of the restaurant’s name. Visitors can watch other dishes being made thanks to Vesta’s open kitchen area, and there are a wide variety of delicious choices on the menu. First let’s get back to that dough throwing.
Bishoff says this method of pizza making is literally considered an art form.
“There are competitions in dough throwing. It’s something that can’t be taught. You have to do it. When I was first learning, I was in some tight spaces. No vaulted ceilings. Made it tough to toss the pizza in the air,” Bishoff says.
Bishoff, learned that art, working in a pizza place while studying psychology at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. A Boonsboro resident, Bishoff worked on and off for Vesta before becoming general manager four years ago.
“It’s neat to watch someone do this. Right-handed people spin the dough in one direction. Left-handed people do it in the opposite direction. Of course you have your share of dropping the dough when you’re learning,” Bishoff says, laughing.
Vesta pizzas use a premium Italian pizza cheese called Bacio, It’s a very creamy cheese made from buffalo milk.
Vesta has a wide assortment of pizzas on its menu under specialty and artisan pizzas. These aren’t the traditional kind of pizza. There’s the Marylander: jumbo lump crab meat sprinkled with Vesta’s secret blend of herbs and spices and Old Bay or a choice of traditional pizza sauce, garlic butter or white sauce. Or there’s the bacon ranch chicken pizza: tender chicken breast and bacon grilled in ranch dressing and topped with cheddar jack cheese.
Bishoff says two of the most popular pizzas are the New Yorker and Warrior Pride. The New Yorker is a typical New York-style pizza, made with a large hand-tossed thin crust, thick and crisp only along its edge. It’s topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, sweet onions and fresh sliced green peppers.
Warrior Pride is topped with pepperoni, bacon, ham, meatballs, and Italian sausage with extra cheese. The name for this pizza comes from Boonsboro High School’s mascot, Warrior.
“Friday night we have a special $10 pizza night. That includes an extra large specialty pizza or build your own pizza up to four toppings. People come in after the games,” Bishoff says.
More on the significance of the Warrior to come.
Bishoff says Vesta has something especially unique listed on the menu under appetizers: crab balls.
“It’s like a small crab cake only rolled into a ball,” he says. “We know how Marylanders are about crab. Nobody else in the area makes crab balls.”
All vegetables used at Vesta are fresh.
“We make fantastic meatballs, too,” Bishoff adds.
Vesta has numerous options for customers to make their own dishes. The Sandwich Factory on the menu lets customers “Create Your Own Masterpiece” by selecting the bread, meats, whether the sandwich is hot or cold, cheese and toppings. In the Salad Factory, a variety of options are up to the customer. There is also a Make Your Own Pasta section and Build-A-Burger.
“I do have to say we make fantastic meatballs here,” says Bishoff. “Vesta is a real comfort zone for the people who come here. We have many regulars. You know what you’re going to get here. And, nobody knows what you like better than you do so we like having our customers choose exactly how they want their food made.”
Bishoff adds that mussels are very popular items at Vesta. They can be found in Mussels Italiano: mussels sautéed in a white sauce with diced tomatoes, garlic and basil served over fettuccine. Or Mussels Mediterranean: Marinara, olives, sun-roasted tomatoes and red wine, served over fettuccine.
Another popular entree is Seafood Bucca: tender shrimp and lump crab meat sautéed with garlic and bacon over fettuccine in a rich, slightly sweet sambuca cream sauce.
There are gyros, wings and side orders of steak fries, sweet potato steak fries, onion rings, fried green beans and cole slaw.
In addition, there’s a wide assortment of hot and cold subs. The name Warrior comes up again in Warrior Cheesesteak, which consists of grilled onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, extra cheese, and jalapenos.
Vesta began operation in 2007. Saluting Boonsboro’s high school mascot is a part of the devotion to Boonsboro shared by both Bishoff and Vesta’s owner, Bruce Wilder, the husband of the famous and prolific author Nora Roberts. Roberts is the author of more than 225 novels. She also writes as J.D. Robb. She owns a variety of different properties in town, including Inn BoonsBoro and has a room dedicated to her works at Turn the Page bookstore also in Boonsboro.
“A lot of people come to town to meet her and attend book signings,” Bishoff says. “She has mentioned Vesta in some of her books.”
Vesta’s name comes from mythology, Vesta, the Greek goddess of hearth, home and family.
“That really works for us. We are a family-oriented place,” Bishoff says.
Vesta can seat about 65 people. The back room has couches to add to the relaxed atmosphere.
“People can come here after work and just chill,” Bishoff says.
Vesta’s building was constructed in the 1700s. When renovations took place, Bishoff says a fireplace was discovered. It’s used in the room where the couches are located.
Bishoff says he enjoys working at Vesta, even though he’s not using his degree in psychology.
“I’d have to go back and get my master’s degree. Maybe get into childhood psychology or addiction counseling. But I really like being around people, making food for people. It’s a nice feeling. I also like the small town atmosphere here. That’s why I came back,” he says.
Vesta is located at 2 S. Main Street. Hours are Monday to Tuesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Deliveries are also available. Vesta also takes online orders visit the website at www.vestapizza.com. Or call 301-432-6166.