Welcome back to “Phoenixville by the Slice,” the column dedicated to one thing only. This month, I help myself to another Phoenixville Pie from Franco Ristorante.

Franco Ristorante has been located in the heart of Phoenixville for over 25 years. To many, it was and still is, known to loyal customers as Italian Delight. But with one too many Delights hanging around, it was time for a fresh start. Hence Franco Ristorante was born!

And talk about your Mom & Pop Pizza Shop! Franco Ristorante is headed by restaurant owner, Franco LoPresti along with his wife, Gail and two daughters, Darlene & Sabrina. Every day of the week, they give a team effort to produce a true, family-friendly experience. Plus, you can’t ignore the level of excellence from their staff.

We sat down with Franco over a glass of Moretti, a crisp, Italian Lager currently on tap, to find out how he managed to stay put all these years. So many pizza shops come and go. So how does he do it? It has to be more than great ingredients, right?

What stands out to me, personally, came from a display back by the bar area. It reads, “We Love Our Customers…Now Serving Gluten Free Pizza.” The LoPrestis have not only kept up with the times, but heard the demands. Their customers want Gluten Free menu items? They got it! Franco is a people person. If Gluten Free menu items make them happy, then so be it! You won’t find Gluten Free pies anywhere else on the block. It’s that level of attention that allows him to thrive and survive, even in this economy.

But it doesn’t end there. For a town notorious for a flourishing bar scene, Franco and family decided  a new name deserved a new approach. It was time to level the playing field by offering unique cocktails and selections of craft beer. Next time you stop in, head back to the takeout section. You’ll find varieties of Dogfish Head, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher and much more. For those non-beer drinkers, fear not! Franco’s team offers a number of exiting new cocktails each month. Just ask about the Silly Dragon!

Alright, so let’s get to business, shall we? Franco took us backstage to his kitchen where we found a cooking station set up and ready for action. Vegetables, oils and cheeses were laid amongst the counter, stocked and prepared to pump out pies for the day. Quite the visual delight!

If you haven’t noticed, Franco aims to please. Being a master of his craft, he gave us quite the show. We even witnessed the trademark mid air spin with the dough. This doesn’t add anything to the quality of the pie, but it sure is fun to watch! He even allowed us to slide one of the pizzas in the oven, with assistance of course! And, ah yes, the samples of fresh Prosciutto and chunks of Grande Cheese.  We knew if the ingredients were this caliber of awesomeness, then the pizza must be fantastic. And were they ever!

One at a time, the Franco Hanco Panco (seen below), Sabrina and the Vegetable were delivered before us, all colorful and appetizing! Just moments ago, these were ingredients at a working station. And since we had the pleasure of watching the transition, this only added to the experience.

We felt diving into the Franco first was a given since we’re all huge Prosciutto fans! At first bite, you could make out the distinctive flavors: the salty blend of diced tomatoes, the slices of cooked prosciutto, and of course, the abundance of moist cheese. Fantastico!

Next, we tackled a gourmet favorite, the Sabrina (seen above), sharing similarities to the Franco Hanco Panco, but replacing Prosciutto with chunks of grilled chicken. Franco shared earlier they’re cut at just the right amount to prepare quicker and when you make over forty pies a day, timing is everything! To me, it felt each slice had the right amount of chicken to balance out the other ingredients, but hey, that’s my attempt at being a pizza expert!

Finally, the Veggie (seen to left), a white pizza layered with broccoli, tomato, spinach, Grande Cheese and of course, Ricotta. You can tell this is a pizza filled with quality. Franco mentioned between samplings, the Ricotta still remains warm and moist, not dried out like you might experience elsewhere.

So why save this for last? Was it the best? Or was a Town Disher present not a fan of pizza without sauce? Well, Editor in Chief, Amy Strauss, claimed she was not a white pizza lover. If you’ve followed this column, you’ve noticed this style continues to makes an appearance. I feel when sauce is out of the equation, you can appreciate the other components that much more. I was very curious on her thoughts for round three.

So what did she think? Well, let’s just say we have a converted white pizza fan! She embraced it, tasted it and loved it! Well done, Franco! How about you? Willing to give it a try? If so, I recommend ordering the Veggie at Franco’s, also one of their top sellers!

Well, this concludes our third slice. You can find Franco Ristorante participating in the Pub Crawl, October 6th. What an opportunity to give them a try! Now onto the next piece!

Read other Phoenixville by the Slice columns here and here.