Prosciutto’s dishes up charm and tasty pizza in equal doses
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Prosciutto’s is cozy.
The low ceiling is executed in brown, detailed tiles; the floor is roughly finished in natural-colored stone. Padded tablecloths in oxblood red cover tables in the low light. Beer cans ranging from Sierra Nevada to Pabst Blue Ribbon line up on a high shelf.
It feels like your best friend’s awesome basement or your favorite upscale bar from college, the kind of place where it is a-OK to imbibe in a pint at 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.
Owner Joel Pfyffer warmly greets several customers by name as he makes his way through the restaurant, infusing the place with even more charm.
Pfyffer, originally from New Hampshire, owned a Prosciutto’s restaurant there. It was a pizzeria and mostly a take-out place. On Oct., 13, 2004, he sold that restaurant and subsequently moved to the Charlotte area.
“I moved with no business plan or really any plan at all,” he laughs. But by Nov. 1 of the next year, he opened this Prosciutto’s in Cornelius.
“In New Hampshire I had 18 direct competitors,” he said. “But here there were zero. So I thought this might be a good place to open.”
True to his New England roots, the bar is peppered with Boston sports memorabilia from the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. Local sports teams also have a place on the wall, including Davidson College and UNC Charlotte.
On NFL Sundays, the place is packed with fans that spill out on the patio, which has heaters and televisions. For 1 p.m. non-broadcast Patriots game, you had better show up early.
“I’d turn away my own mother,” said Pfyffer with a grin.
Sports is just part of the offerings.
The menu is large and well-rounded with appetizers, wings, salads, calzones, pizza, pastas and sandwiches, toasted subs and wraps. Specialties of the house are the pizza and wings.
“It takes us 15 minutes to make our wings,” Pfyffer said. “Sometimes customers will complain it takes too long. But they stop complaining once they taste them!”
The pizza is also a favorite. The dough and sauce is homemade and they use the highest quality mozzarella. The pizza is a slice of perfection with a tasty, crispy crust and fresh toppings. The restaurant was voted Best Pizza and Best Italian Restaurant in 2010 by CitySearch, which no longer ranks restaurants.
“So I guess our title stands,” Pfyffer said.
Although much of their business is at night, the restaurant has a bustling lunchtime catering business for local hotels, schools and companies. Specialties include baked ziti, salads and maybe even a Steak Bomb Sub, which is thinly shaved steak, diced pepperoni and Genoa salami, sautéed mushrooms, onions and green peppers smothered in American cheese.
Regular customers can be found any time of the day or night dining or just sitting at the bar. Pfyffer says some customers walk in and the server puts in their order without a word being spoken.
“I just love all the people who work here,” said Dorene Hoppe, a Huntersville regular at the restaurant. “Plus the parmesan garlic wings keep me coming back. They are so big and have great flavor.”
Pfyffer doesn’t regret his decision to move south.
“I like it down here,” he said. “People are friendly, and I don’t own a snow shovel.”