"Even though you're running the place, you'll always work for me" - this is what the owner of a famed suburban pizza place told Rick Santos when commenting on his efficiency in the kitchen. Santos, a man who finds comfort taking the lead in all facets of his life, made sure every pizza was executed with perfection and didn't leave the kitchen until it was the way it was supposed to be. Not a man of cutting corners, his former bosses recognized this early on and were sure to remind him that he could indeed run the kitchen well but he could never be the boss.
As is so very clear today, they were wrong.
Today Santos is the boss of De Carlucci's Pizzeria and Mexican Eatery on 4010 Main St. (formerly Di Caputo's, near the intersection of Main and Crawford). Alongside his youngest brother, Carlos Santos, Rick crafts his own pizza recipes and sauces. With more than 20 years in the industry under his belt, Santos definitely has preferences in terms of execution. He wants to make sure his food tastes good in a way that is honorable and fair, repeatedly telling me "If you don't like it, why are you gonna’ eat it again?" in reference to his enthusiasm for repeat customers.
Intrigued by the level of confidence he portrayed in his product, I asked Santos to take a break and dine with me. I quickly learned he'd only been in the neighborhood for three weeks as I delved into the breadsticks box ($2.75) with little shame. I was surprised to see eight neatly cut rectangles, thin and topped with mixed cheeses and Italian seasonings. Santos seemed to enjoy the shock factor of someone expecting fat chunks of garlic cheesy bread as I have become accustomed to from almost every other pizza joint. As a breadstick hoarder at the dinner table, I was happy De Carlucci's light rendition of them didn't make me overwhelmingly full (although beware - they don't come with marinara sauce so be sure to ask for some when ordering).
Aside from the breadsticks, I ordered two 10-inch thin pizzas – one sausage and one veggie with fresh basil and easy fresh garlic. Each was cut into small rectangular pieces ($8.65 + ingredients) and the meal was enough to feed four people comfortably. De Carlucci’s also offers deep dish as well as stuffed pizzas ($10.75 + ingredients) for those looking for a heartier meal. I was happy to see that De Carlucci's didn't disappoint when it came to their claim of fresh ingredients - the basil was green and lush, the garlic cut into thick pieces and definitely not from a can, and the sausage pieces the perfect size - a hearty portion in every bite. I thanked Santos for the food and conversation and left with ample leftovers for everyone at home (not that those lasted long).
Free Pizza Day -
On Tuesday July 24th (today), Santos would like to extend an offer for all those curious to see what he's all about: Any customer who walks in receives a free pizza.
That's the kind of free that doesn't entail you to buy anything, doesn't ask you to give out your information - it's a free that's offered solely on confidence you'll appreciate Santos' product. Stay if you like and crack open some beers with friends – De Carlucci’s is BYOB with no corkage fee.