By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
Carl Wood is a tattoo artist by trade. But when he moved to Pontotoc from Harrisburg, Pa., in early 2011, he quickly realized the small Southern town wasn’t quite ready for his line of work.
So he fell back on his first love: pizza.
“My first job was working in a pizza parlor,” said Wood, 32. “Even if I have a main job somewhere else, I’m working in a pizza shop.”
Wood’s mother, Michaele, is the one who first made the move from Pennsylvania to Pontotoc. But Wood’s children, Jordan and Natalya, soon began missing her.
“My son and daughter came to me one day and said, ‘We want to move closer to Grandma,’” he said. “My son has never asked me for anything and it hit me kind of close to home. So we picked up and moved. I followed my mother here and then everybody followed us. My wife’s family, my brother and his family, my sister and her family, my father. There’s hardly any of us left in Pennsylvania.”
The Woods opened Main Street Pizza in March 2011 and served only pizza. Since then, they’ve revamped the menu twice, adding their specialties.
Now, pizza is still a good-seller, but the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, stromboli and cheeseburgers are the restaurant’s most popular items. The daily special is two slices of pizza and a large drink for $5.
“I like to make people happy through food, and people get a lot of enjoyment out of food,” Wood said. “I learned everything I know from a guy named Pasquale Schiano in Pennsylvania. He made his sauce by hand – he mixed it with his hands, no tools involved. Metal did not touch his sauce.”
Wood does use a mixer with an attachment to make his sauce, but the paddle attachment has a special coating on it that covers the metal.
“The sauce has to be perfect,” he said. “Not too salty, not too thick, a little sweet. People love our sauce. And we put lots of cheese on our pizza. When you take a bite and you get that long string of cheese – oh, people love that.”
The family uses one basic dough recipe for pizza, subs and stromboli. It’s made one day and used the next.
“There are no preservatives here,” he said. “Everything is made in-house.”
Local hangout for kids
Most of the customers at Main Street Pizza are regulars, like firefighters Adam Carnes, Floyd White, Lance Martin and Jeremy Maxey. The four gathered one day last week for lunch.
“We eat here every week, sometimes twice a week,” Martin said. “The special is quick and easy and inexpensive. But everything from spaghetti to subs – it’s all good. The bacon-cheeseburger sub is probably my favorite.”
Maxey said sometimes if the firefighters are having a meeting or can’t leave the station for another reason, they just pick up the phone and place an order.
“They have enormous portions and even then, you’re still not paying much,” he said.
Carnes ordered the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and cleaned his plate, while White ordered the stromboli.
“I wasn’t even hungry and I still ate the whole thing,” Carnes said.
“We’ve yet to eat anything here that wasn’t good – wasn’t really good,” Martin said.
At one point, Wood tried opening for breakfast, but the response wasn’t too good. He also offered an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner on Sundays, but that didn’t draw many customers either.
“We were trying to find our niche and I think we’ve got it now,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever move again, even if the pizza shop doesn’t work out. The people here are so friendly and helpful and loyal. The people here are great.”
Christina Wood said the restaurant has become a popular hangout for local kids.
“This is a place to socialize and have fun,” she said. “We’ve ‘adopted’ a lot of children since we moved here. They call us Mama Pizza and Papa Pizza. Kids can be themselves here.”
WHAT: Main Street Pizza
OWNERS: Carl and Christina Wood.
WHERE: 5 S. Main St. in downtown Pontotoc.
HOURS: Monday-Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. until 8 or 10 p.m.; closed Sunday
WHAT: Hand-tossed pizza, stromboli, subs, cheeseburgers, salads, pasta dinners.
CALL: (662) 489-7272.