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Photo by Peggy Wallace
Two area shops now pizza partners posted on 05/01/2020

Paola’s Pizza Barn has fed families in and around Sandy for generations, while Al Forno Ferruzza is a relative newcomer to the Mountain pizza scene, opening in Rhododendron in 2016 and quickly gaining a strong reputation. Last month, the two pizza purveyors joined forces in a reimagining of the Sandy location, combining the best of both businesses with their collaboration, Al Forno Ferruzza at Paola’s Pizza Barn.

“People know Al Forno Ferruzza from our shops in Portland and in Rhododendron, so people were really excited,” said Stephen Ferruzza, owner of Al Forno Ferruzza. “And then there’s people that have been coming to Paola’s for 42 years that are willing to try something new.”

Ferruzza teamed up with Denise Overton, who has lived in Sandy since she was five years old and took over Paola’s a little more than a year ago.

“I knew the Paolas for a very very long time,” Overton said. “I just wanted to reopen it and bring back the family name. Leonard Paola did a lot for the community and the sports teams.”

That community spirit will be at the forefront of the new collaboration, with the Sandy location offering both of the respective restaurants’ styles of pizza while melding the recipes of both families and offering a large space for bigger events and community gatherings, including local schools and sports teams.

“That’s the goal, to keep the history of a generational pizza shop,” Ferruzza said. “It’s a family-oriented experience the whole way through.”

Ferruzza learned his pizza skills from his father, who was born in Sicily, and he stresses locally sourced and fresh ingredients, fresh mozzarella and the traditional style of making the dough. His Rhododendron flagship location is also known for cannolis, strombolis, calzones and some culinary innovations such as MapleAqua, a lightly sweet and bubbly drink, produced in the only FDA-approved facility in the Mount Hood Corridor to make specialty items.

Al Forno Ferruzza at Paola’s Pizza Barn will feature these dishes in addition to much of what has helped make Paola’s a well-loved restaurant over the years, including family recipes for meatballs, barbeque sauce, dressings and the traditional prime rib dinner on Fridays.

Ferruzza noted the larger kitchen at the Sandy location will offer many more options for the menu, including pasta dishes, wings and sandwiches on fresh baked bread, along with a remodeled bar.

Last month’s opening was limited to take out and delivery orders, thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. Ferruzza is experienced when it comes to opening during challenging times, however, as his first brick and mortar pizza location in Portland opened during the recession in 2008.

At the Sandy location, they have put food safety protocols in place that will allow the pizza to not be touched after it comes out of the oven. And Ferruzza sees a great tasting meal made from fresh ingredients as a good way to help out when people have to stay at home.

“When you eat something nutritious, you’re automatically in a better mood,” said Ferruzza, whose first entry into the pizza world was a food cart with no outside investment that also helped build its reputation at festivals and other events.

For people who have yet to try one of his pizzas, he recommended starting with the traditional margherita, while some other offerings will include a pesto and vegetable pizza with fresh kale.

And when restrictions are lifted, the Sandy location could offer up live music and other events, including possibly a drive-in theater in the back and ax throwing. Overton also hopes that an oyster feed, currently scheduled for Saturday, June 20, will go on as planned.

“Community is more important now than it’s ever been,” Ferruzza added. “Paola’s is a community center for the town of Sandy. We’re just going to nourish that.”

For more information, including current specials, or to place an online order, visit mapleaqua.com. Al Forno Ferruzza at Paola’s Pizza Barn will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, while the Rhododendron location currently offers takeout and delivery from Wednesday to Sunday until restrictions are lifted.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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