By Grace Edquist
They don't call it a pizza at Salvatore's Tomato Pies.
"The tomato pie is a uniquely special pizza," says Patrick DePula, who opened the Sun Prairie restaurant in 2011. The tomato pie, the signature at Sal's, is built in reverse, with whole-milk mozzarella, a little provolone and topped with fresh tomato sauce and basil. The sauce on top does at times throw customers off, but DePula is loyal to the recipe -- it's nearly a hundred years old and draws inspiration from the first pizza places to pop up in the United States. The tomato pie represents what a pizza was before it was "commoditized by the chains," DePula says. No added sugar in the sauce, no preservatives in the cheese and everything is scratch-made. The same goes for the more complex pies, like the Farmer John's Smoked Gouda and the El Valiente varieties.
With the ubiquity of chains and their $5 'zas, DePula says he is proud Salvatore's has seen success as a casual and family-friendly place that takes the farm-to-table route, especially in a suburb where smoked gouda, figs in a wine reduction sauce and hand-cured pepperoni from locally raised heritage hogs aren't usually the norm. But the restaurant draws customers from both the immediate area and across the state. And if you've dined at Sal's, you know why. The crust, perfectly imperfect from hand tossing, is chewy but hearty. Only five ingredients are used in the dough: flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil. Toppings are fresh and seasonal, and local partners like Lonesome Stone Milling, JenEhr Family Farm, Grande Cheese Company, Emerald Meadows Family Farm, Underground Meats and Fraboni's illustrate a commitment to sourcing locally, which is about the people just as much as it is about the food. "There's a network of support that just doesn't exist when you get stuff off a truck."
Salvatore's Tomato Pies
503 W. Main St., Sun Prairie
Read more Madison Magazine stories about local food here.