Story: Shemir Wiles | Photos: Fred Lopez
Leigh Love and Jesse Thomas co-own this quaint downtown eatery, and both are no strangers to the Mount Dora culinary scene. Love previously owned and operated 5th Avenue Café, an upscale restaurant that featured organic and clean cuisine. Later, Thomas joined 5th Avenue as executive chef.
The inspiration for PizzAmoré began with Thomas, who would make personal pizzas for the staff every time he baked bread at 5th Avenue. “It was nothing serious,” he says. “A lot of my early jobs were in pizzerias, and I always liked the work environment.”
With the discovery of Thomas’ pizza-making skills paired with the employees’ consistent glowing reviews, both Thomas and Love hatched a plan to create a new endeavor that would be a place where people could enjoy a relaxing, family-friendly environment and good food at reasonable prices. Thus, 5th Avenue was shuttered and PizzAmoré was born.
Next, I tried an order of jumbo chicken wings, dressed sloppy style (a mixture of their buffalo, barbecue, and parmesan garlic sauces). The wings were baked instead of fried, but they were still quite crisp on the outside yet juicy on the inside. Furthermore, the blend of all three sauces gave the wings a balanced sweet and sour taste with a hefty kick of garlic, which I absolutely loved.
Both pizzas were exquisite. The ingredients were extremely fresh, especially the Roma tomatoes on the Margherita pizza. The artisan pizza was sauced lightly with the homemade barbecue sauce, which did not overpower the toppings. And both pizzas were cheesy without being oily. Nevertheless, the true standout with both pizzas was the crust. It was thin, but not so thin that it would flop when you picked it up. The crust was also slightly crispy on the outside with still enough chew and tenderness on the inside. “We worked really hard on the crust because we wanted to make a bread product people would actually want to eat,” Thomas says.
In keeping with the current health food craze, PizzAmoré also offers gluten-free and whole-wheat crusts, gluten-free pasta, and gluten-free beer. “When I see the satisfied look from a customer who hasn’t had pizza in ages try our gluten-free pizza, it warms my heart,” Love says.
For dessert, I had the award-winning crème brûlée. A simple dish with not many ingredients, this homemade treat still captivated me with its rich, savory custard base and dulcet caramel shell. It was too good to waste any of it, so, naturally, I finished the entire helping.
From its nice selection of craft beers to its daily specials, PizzAmoré is easy on the wallet but still offers a touch of rustic elegance. With a promise to always put freshness first, the pizzeria is certain to have continued success as more people discover this hidden treasure.
Lake and Sumter Style Magazine