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Thanksgiving pizza? Schuylkill County shops get creative with holiday classics


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Restaurants in Schuylkill County and beyond are putting a spin on Thanksgiving, offering specialty pizzas that blend holiday favorites.

In Schuylkill County, both Valenti’s Italian Restaurant in Orwigsburg and 2nd Street Pizza in Frackville offer Thanksgiving pizza — a combination of turkey and sides on a pizza.

“A pizza crust is the same thing as dinner rolls, so why not just throw it all on there?” said Kael Merna, proprietor.

Kael Merna, with 2nd St. Pizza, pulls out a Thanksgiving pizza full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn and cranberries. (David McKeown – Republican-Herald)

The “Holiday Surprise Pizza” is a weekly specialty pie introduced Sunday and sells through Saturday. However, Merna said the pizzeria will happily accommodate requests for it afterward, as long as the shop has the ingredients.

Mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, turkey and cranberries sit atop a thick-crust pizza — not Sicilian-style pizza, Merna said, but thick enough to support all the toppings.

Merna and the staff encourage customers to request unique pizzas.

“I always say, whatever I don’t have on the menu, I always want to make (to make) our guests happy,” Merna said.

Ordering in bulk

At Valenti’s, the Thanksgiving pizza is in its fifth year, and each year, a specific crowd seeks it out, said owner Sal Valenti.

The 2nd St. Pizza, Frackville, is offering a Thanksgiving pizza full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberries. (David McKeown - Republican-Herald)
The 2nd St. Pizza, Frackville, is offering a Thanksgiving pizza full of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberries. (David McKeown – Republican-Herald)

Oftentimes, customers purchase Thanksgiving pizzas in bulk around the holiday season for office parties or other large gatherings, he said. One loyal customer from Reading frequents the shop and purchased six pizzas last week.

“People come back every year,” Valenti said. “They always email us asking when are we making them.”

A peak at the Valenti’s Facebook page proves the outpouring of support for its holiday pie.

Roseanne Zelusky said “Thanksgiving pizza is the best!!” in reply to an Oct. 11 post about the return of the restaurant’s fall favorites.

Three days ago, a post about Thanksgiving pizza received 34 comments, mostly of support.

“I have been dreaming about this pizza,” Sheri Warhola commented.

Valenti’s pizza consists of freshly made turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries and cheese.

Valenti’s wife, Amy, said customers often request the cranberries on the side.

She thinks the pizza’s appeal is its uniqueness, which is why her husband created it in the first place.

“It’s nice to hear from people that do like it,” he said. “I didn’t really think it was gonna go that good — I thought it was gonna be OK — but it does do great.”

Pizza and a beer

Jill Marchakitus, owner of Bernie’s Pizza in Dallas, northwest of Wilkes-Barre, said hearing customers express interest in their new “Gobbler” pizza, a first-ever for the pizzeria, is exciting.

“Today was the first day that we’re having it,” she said Thursday, “so we’ve been selling a bunch of it.”

The pizza, topped with mashed potatoes, turkey, green beans, stuffing and gravy, came about through a business partnership with Back Mountain Brewing Co.

“They’ve been trying to get me to do this pizza for a while now,” Marchakitus said. “They helped me kind of build it.”

Customers who purchase a Gobbler pizza get a ticket for a discounted cranberry cream ale at the brewing company, located across the street.

If the festive pie sells well, Marchakitus said she plans to bring it back next year.

Pizzas like this also offer a chance for creativity in the kitchen, which Marchakitus is happy to embrace, plus it offers a chance to collaborate and promote another small business.

Otherwise, “it’s just kind of fun,” she said.

Stromboli, too

Armetta’s Restaurant and Pizza in Chinchilla, a village north of Scranton in Lackawanna County, makes a seasonal Thanksgiving stromboli.

Kelly Kuniegel, one of the managers, said “we’ve been selling them like crazy,” much to the dismay of their cooks because of the longer prep time.

“We sell probably at least like 10 to 15 on a daily basis,” she said.

The stromboli is loaded with house-made mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing and mozzarella cheese. Cranberry sauce is offered on the side, and turkey gravy if requested.

Kuniegel said the “delicious” strombolis are available through November, and she recommends trying them “before you get turkeyed out.”

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