By Philip Haldiman
The first job Mark Gluck loved was working at a New York-style pizzeria. He was 16 years-old, and ever since then he knew he wanted to run his own shop.
Mr. Gluck, now 37, has spent years tinkering with pizza sauce and dough recipes and cultivating a passion for the perfect pizza.
“I still remember the first time I got to go to the make table and make a pizza. I felt at home. It was very natural for me,” he said.
Now that pizza joint of his, small though it may be, has become a reality.
In April, Mr. Gluck opened The Rec Pizzeria, 20340 N. Lake Pleasant Rd., serving Detroit-style pizza for mainly take-out and delivery offered by Uber Eats. The space has a dining area of about 175 square-feet with a few tables for those who would like to eat-in, but he said he is hoping to eventually expand into the suite next door to accommodate more dine-in patrons.
Detroit-style pizza, like the name implies, has its roots in the Motor City and will be most recognizable to those familiar with Sicilian pizza, which is thick-crusted and rectangular.
Mr. Gluck said the style was originally made in pans from the automotive industry, used to hold auto parts. He said the pans probably aren’t used now, but the Detroit-style is becoming more and more popular.
“They [pans] were cleaned, seasoned, and put to use with a Sicilian-style dough. The cheese goes all the way up to the edge and caramelizes giving you an amazing crunch. We use a blend of cheese that contains Wisconsin brick cheese, which is the standard for Detroit-style,” he said. “There’s really some magic that happens with these pans. The edge gets nice and crispy, caramelizing the cheese. It’s a deep dish, but it’s really light and fluffy.”
Before taking a full dive into the pizza biz, Mr. Gluck worked in construction as a painting contractor for about 14 years. His experience in the industry helped in his new endeavor, designing and remodeling the restaurant himself. The pizzeria’s name hints at the rectangular, or rec, size of the pizza he creates, as well as the records that decorate the space. The ambiance is accentuated with mosaics hanging up that he created — one of Johnny Cash and one of Bob Marley — and a bass guitar he and his father built when he was 16.
“The décor is definitely music inspired … I have pictures of my dad playing guitar and steel guitar,” he said. “There is really a lot of me in this place.”
Mr. Gluck and his wife have lived in Peoria for nearly 20 years.
“It’s important for me to have a business close to home, in a community that I’m a part of,” he said.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.
What: The Rec Pizzeria
Where: 20340 N. Lake Pleasant Rd.
Menu: The restaurant offers pizza in the sizes of personal (6”x6”), medium (8”x10”), and large (10”x16”), as well as chicken wings.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. -9 p.m.