Sneak peek at IYB: More pizza in downtown Champaign

Sneak peek at IYB: More pizza in downtown Champaign

Here's an advance look at one of the items from the It's Your Business column in this Sunday's paper.

Downtown Champaign soon could get another place for pizza — but this time it will be authentic Neapolitan pizza baked in wood-fired ovens.

Pizzeria Antica plans to set up shop at 40 E. University Ave., C, in the building just east of Seven Saints.

“What we have are two pizza ovens, hand-built for us in Italy by Stefano Ferrara,” said pizzeria owner Ramin Karimpour. “All the heat comes from wood. We’re baking them at 900 degrees. That’s going to give us a 90-second bake time. It’ll be different from anything we have in Champaign currently.”

Karimpour said Neapolitan pizzas are distinguished by a simple dough recipe — yeast, flour, salt and water. Basic ingredients, such as tomatoes, flour and cheese, will come from Italy, and most other ingredients will be locally sourced, he said.

Pizzeria Antica plans to offer 12 to 15 traditional pizzas, as well as some of its own creations, including some vegan and gluten-free options, Karimpour said.

“We’ve already applied for a liquor license, and we plan to be serving wines. beers and limoncello — drinks to go with pizza,” he said. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur closely associated with southern Italy.

Karimpour plans to be open regular hours for lunch and dinner and may try to stay open extended hours to see how that works.

“We’ll have to play it by ear. Downtown Champaign is such a dynamic place, with people walking around at night,” he said. “We’ll see how it’s received.”

It’s difficult to say when the pizzeria will open, Karimpour said.

“It’s been a long road, but the contractor is actually in the building looking at things,” he said, adding that he hopes to have a construction permit soon.

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