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Five things you don't know about ... Citizen Pie

Citizen Pie

Hop onto any social thread discussing Cleveland's best pizza and you're likely to see Battery Park's CHA on the list. Scotti's Italian Eatery on East 185th surely has it's fans. Others swear by Crust.

But the one place you're sure to find, the one that's been white-hot since opening its doors a little more than a year ago on Waterloo Road in Collinwood, is Citizen Pie, wherein locals cannot get enough of the authentic Neapolitan pizzas served up in the tiny 875-square-foot space that sits opposite the Beachland Ballroom.
 
Now as construction rumbles on at Citizen's second location in Ohio City, we thought we'd uncover a few fast facts about this unique Cleveland biz that you may not know.
 
1. The partnership behind the effort is an international affair, with a healthy helping of Lithuanian courtesy of head chef Vytauras Sasnauskas and partner Paulius Nasvytis of the legendary Velvet Tango Room. Third partner Claudia Young rounds it out with her Eastern European lineage.
 
2. All of Sasnauskas's pizzas are made with dough that's meticulously crafted from flour, water, salt and starter. It's then fermented for 24 – 36 hours in boxes to perfect the resulting crust.
 
3. These aren't your Nonna's ovens. The Waterloo location boasts a Stefano Ferrara model while the new location will have an Acunto Napoli. Both hail from Italy. And while it takes days to properly cure a brick pizza oven (which means slowly bringing it up to 900 degrees), a pie takes just 90 seconds to bake inside of it.
 
4. The Citizen Pie team includes one Bonn Rassavong, who garnered the title of the world's Fastest Pizza Box Folder for folding five 12-inch pizza boxes in just 20.03 seconds. The achievement (ahem) unfolded this past March at the 2017 Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
 
5. While she always touts Sasnauskas's genius and quest for perfection, calling him a "food savant" (and she's not alone), Young is the brains behind Citizen's luscious migliaccio — a classic Naples-style citrus infused ricotta cheesecake. She labored over the recipe for months. One other note on Young: she is one of the investors on the Cleveland Chain Reaction effort to revitalize the Slavic Village neighborhood with no less than five new businesses.
 
The new Citizen Pie is slated to open at the end of July at 2144 West 25th Street. Until then, west-siders craving the "Little Italy" (mozzarella, Italian sausage, roasted peppers, red onion, basil, oregano), the "Calabrese" (mozzarella, hot soppressata, cherry tomatoes, oil-cured olives, Calabrian chile) or the simple smoked pepperoni pie with mozzarella and oregano, are just going to have to take a short drive over to Collinwood.
 
Is it lunch yet?
 

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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