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Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza opened for business on Friday. A friends and family gathering took place on Wednesday.
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Owner Matt Willey behind the counter making dough.
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Ramunto's Pizza & Pub Opens in North Adams

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The restaurant also offers pub fare, nearly two dozen craft beers and wine.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza got a work out on Wednesday as dozens of friends, family and acquaintances packed into the city's newest restaurant.

It was test run for Christmas weekend opening for the combination sports pub and pizzeria at the corner of Main and Holden street.

"We reached out to a lot of different people. The mayor was here, the president of Williams College was here, so we reached out to a lot of different people. and we wanted real feed back," said owner Matt Willey, adding it was busy "just like a Friday night in Bennington."

The restaurant under manager Justin Jowett will be open from 11 to 10 Monday through Thursday; 11 to 11 on Friday and Saturday; and 11 to 9 on Sunday. Home delivery is expected to begin after the holidays.

At least 10 pizzas will be available for by-the-slice sales, including a lunch special of two slices of cheese and a soda for under $4. Patrons can also order off a menu with a variety of pizza toppings, build-your-own pasta dishes, burgers, hoagies, calzones and salads. Orders are taken at the counter and delivered to the table.

The North Adams spot is the second location for Willey, who purchased the Ramunto's in Bennington nearly two years ago. He and several backers have been looking for an opportunity and turned their sights south.

"I think that North Adams is waiting for a place like this with a fast lunch, really good craft beers," said Willey on Thursday, taking a break as staff prepared for the next day's grand opening. "It's for families, kids can come and run around but you can also go hang out at the bar and relax, too."

He wanted to be near Main Street but also near enough to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to capture student traffic as well as resident.

The corner spot owned by Scarafoni Associates has hosted a number of eateries over the past two decades, the most recent being an Italian restaurant that abruptly closed in a matter of months after a disagreement between the owner and managers. Prior to that, it had best been known as coffee shops Appalachian Bean and later Cup & Saucer. It had been vacant for nearly two years.

The interior has been completely redone with new booths and tables and a wood bar in the back created by Berkshire County Newtiques. The kitchen, while much smaller than the Bennington location, has much of the same equipment, including the stone pizza ovens, said Willey, and there's a new hood and vent system.

Ramunto's had hoped to open earlier this fall but the extent of the work slowed down the process.

"It took a long time. I kind of liked that a little bit," Willey said. "It kind of brought the energy, the feel of the town, and I got to meet a lot of people, contractors, plumbers, electricians, and people in the town and the mayor. It was kind of neat. It got a little excitement to it."

Wednesday's dry run brought a lot of those people together for free samples and led to Thursday's adjustments for processes and equipment that didn't quite work.

What won't change is the handmade dough and other local ingredients.

"Everything's from scratch. We hand cut our cheese, fresh dough every day, fresh sauce every day," Willey said. "It's a high payroll, a lot of work but I feel like it pays off."

His meats are coming from vendor in Bennington but he's looking for someone to work with here. "That's what we try to do," he said. "We try to stay all local, work with local contractors, try to stay local as much as we can and, hopefully, be invited into the community."

Willey's entry into pizza-making and the restaurant business started as a side job. He worked for the Vermont Department of Corrections but picked up a second job delivering pizza several years ago for Cliff and Marie Ramunto. He became friendly with the couple, who sold off their rights to the franchise some years ago, and in early 2015, the Boston native and his wife, Tallie, purchased their last restaurant in Bennington.

The two restaurants are now Willey's focus after recently leaving his corrections job.

"It was a move that me and my family felt we could make," he said. "Hopefully, we're here for a long time."


Tags: new business,   Main Street,   opening,   pizza,   restaurants,   

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