West Ashley Pizzeria Owner Bringing Authentic NY Style Pizza To The Lowcountry
Jeff Walker, Food & Beverage Writer
Aside from burgers, pizza is easily the preferred handheld comfort food in America. While pizza is not native to this country, we can thank the immigrants (primarily Italians) who migrated here in the late 1890's and early 1900's for bringing this delicious dish to the United States.
Traditional Italian pizza was born on the streets of developing cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia before making its way across the mid-west to metropolis' such as Chicago and Detroit, eventually finding its the way to the California coast. Over the past half century we can attribute the growth of pizza to the bevy of national chains.
However, there is a big difference in a pizza and a pizza pie. When you can get a pizza for $7, do you really think the dough, the sauce, or the cheese is of any quality. Although the un-named franchises (we all know them) serve up a version of what is typically called pizza (round dough w/sauce & cheese) they are far from what northerners describe as worthwhile NY style pizza, and even further from an authentic pizzeria.
Thankfully pizzeria aficionados have slowly been making their way to the lowcountry over the past several decades, and bringing with them the NY style thin crust pizza we've come to appreciate. While there are a handful of pizzerias in greater Charleston the newest member of the fold is Pizza A Modo Mio located at 3125 Bees Ferry Rd. in the Lowes Foods shopping center at Hwy 61 next to Shadowmoss Plantation.
Owned and operated by Brooklyn and Long Island native Mike Pitera, Pizza A Modo Mio is as authentic as you can get. Just 37 years of age, Mike has been working in pizzerias since the tender age of 15 and slinging dough for right at 20 years. For those who marvel at the way pizza makers twirl the dough, Mike says it's an art form and done to stretch the dough to just the right consistency prior to placing it in the oven.
Admittedly some pizzerias have and extensive menu including pasta dishes, not so at Pizza A Modo Mio. Mike and his crew focus almost entirely on fresh made to order pizza, except for the slices they have ready to pop back in the oven for patrons dropping in for lunch or grabbing a couple of slices on the way home from work. Cheese slices, pepperoni slices, sausage slices, and more.
Pizza and calzones are the marquee attraction at Pizza A Modo Mio. Grab an authentic 18" NY thin crust cheese pizza for $18.50 or an old school rectangular Sicilian with thick crust, mozzarella and pizza sauce for $25. Both come oozing with cheese, the kind that slightly burns the roof of your mouth. And both feed a family of four or two ravenous appetites. Good bang for your buck! The beauty of real NY style pizza is that you can eat it cold the next morning or pop in the microwave and it's still freakin' awesome.
If you love cheese, and let's be honest the Italians pretty much perfected cheese, than I highly recommend the calzone at Pizza A Modo Mio. Served daily up until 4pm, their calzone is the cheesiest (meant with respect) item on the menu. Teeming with tons of fresh ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, parsley, and fresh garlic. For $12 it's a steal. Could it feed two? Absolutely, it's that humongous. Comes complete with Mike's homemade marinara sauce for dipping.
Apart from pizzas, diners can get a few signature salads, appetizers, two soups (past fagioli & minestrone), an awesome parmigiana hero (NY for sub sandwich or a first responder) consisting of homemade meatballs, sausage, chicken, eggplant or pepperoni. Don't overlook the garlic knots or the pepperoni roll. In case you have a sweet tooth Mike has fresh made cannolis and carries more than a dozen of Uncle Louie G's Italian Ices and Cream Ices (a Brooklyn tradition since 1959).
Let's break it down. Mike is third generation full-blooded Italiano, and marinara sauce runs through his veins. When it comes to his menu, Mike is a perfectionist. He's so particular about the pizza dough, he gets it delivered from NY at least twice a week. His mantra is 'If it ain't authentic Italian there's no reason to serve it'. He likes to say that what he serves across the counter is the same he experienced in his NY neighborhood growing up and or what was served at family dinners on Sunday.
And what about the name Pizza A Modo Mio. Those from the old country or fluent in Italian fully understand 'a modo mio' means 'my way' or 'I do it my way'. Mike Pitera does pizza his way, the way generations of Italians have done throughout greater NYC for decades. Sure patrons can order a pizza the way they want it, but the basics, i.e. the crust, the sauce, and the cheese must meet Mike's standards before it goes into the pizza oven.
The interior of Pizza A Modo Mio pays tribute to Mike's family and his love for NYC. The tabletops all carry datelines from specific NY Times headlines that coincide with loved ones birthdays. And if you want to get a quick history lesson on specific timelines related to NYC including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden than just read the walls. Most days you'll hear 80's and 90's top 40 music except when Mike is honoring the pizzeria's namesake song from Frank Sinatra 'My Way' and golden era songs from the Chairman of the Board.
What started out as a food truck in 2022 has morphed into a thriving brick and mortar pizzeria. Open less than five months in Charleston, Pizza A Modo Mio has gained a stellar reputation, with pizza lovers making their way from downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant to feast upon Mike's authentic menu.
When Mike's not delivering catered meals he's almost always in the pizzeria, overseeing all that taking place and getting familiar with regulars. Don't be surprised if he drops by your table and brings over a few garlic knots. Mike doesn't know a stranger and he treats every customer like family. That's how you do business the old fashioned way. Capiche!
Love great NY style pizza and calzones, as well as real meatball subs and cannolis, than look no further than Pizza A Modo Mio at 3125 Bees Ferry Rd in the Lowes Food shopping center at the intersection of Hwy 61 across from Shadowmoss. Yes they cater and offer takeout. Open Tues-Sat noon until 8pm. Closed Sunday (honoring God) and Monday (weekly prep & inventory). Taste the difference at Pizza A Modo Mio. Need more info visit https://modomiopizza.com/