Argilla Brewing Co. at Pietro’s Pizza celebrated their 4th anniversary in March, but its history goes back further.
Steve Powell’s dad and uncle opened the first Pietro’s Pizza shop back in 1978 in Prices Corner in Wilmington with a second location opening on Churchmans Road in Newark in 1985. They finally settled in Pike Creek, where they remained for over 22 years. Steve’s uncle left the business in 2005, which is when he became more involved in the business. Wanting to make his mark, Steve started working on the idea of adding a small brewery to the business.
Steve and his wife Candace took the time between closing the Pike Creek location and opening the new pizza shop on Kirkwood Highway to visit as many of the old school East Coast establishments to further perfect his pizza skills. They visited “places that have been doing it for 40 years or more,” with stops in New Haven, Brooklyn and Manhattan, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore.
“While every place was great, Brooklyn and New Haven have their reputation for a reason and really had some great pizzas – DiFara’s in Brooklyn and Frank Pepe’s in New Haven being a couple favorites,” Steve said, “We had a great time doing it.”
Argilla’s brew system is pretty darn small, categorizing them as the only nanobrewery for the first couple of years (until Frozen Toes at Pizza by Elizabeth’s in Greenville was added to the list). Steve said that while he has enjoyed the ability to experiment with a small batch system, he is ready to expand his brewhouse.
They’ve recently purchased three barrel fermentation tanks (an increase from their original 1.5 barrel) and are currently having a three barrel system built that should make its way to the brewery in the late June/early July timeframe. Until tthen, Steve and his crew are running double brew days to fill the three barrel tanks.
I’m sure asking a brewer what his favorite beer is it’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite. With a smaller brewing system Argilla’s has brewed a ton of beers over the 4 years, so this was a hard question for Steve to answer. He landed on a few of his current favorites: a toss-up between tOATally Citra, an oat IPA brewed exclusively with Citra hops, or their Russian Imperial Stout, Zossimov.
Now for the favorite pizza. Steve says he keeps it pretty simple: traditional pepperoni and onion with some fresh basil and pecorino. How about combining the two? Steve’s favorite pizza and beer pairing came from one of the pizza beer dinners they’ve hosted. The slice that lingers on his palette was a steak and eggs pizza topped with extra virgin olive oil, smoked fresh mozzarella and a stout beer reduction, paired with the brewery’s Beerunch Stout, an oatmeal stout brewed with lactose, aged on Costa Rican coffee beans. For something a little more mainstream Steve is all about a classic Margherita pizza paired with the brewery’s toasted Amber Ale, Wavy Grainy. A portion of the grain bill for Wavy is toasted in their pizza ovens, lending “a nice bready aroma to the beer.”
Pizza and beer is a classic combo for most people. Make it a slice (or two) and a pint from Argilla Brewing Co. at Pietro’s Pizza and you definitely hit the pizza and beer jackpot.
If you’ve never visited Argilla’s this Saturday, May 7th is the perfect excuse and perfect introduction as they host their 4th Annual Spring Fest, starting at 11am. The day is going to be filled with beer (obviously), tasty food (I’m hoping for lots of pizza), live music inside the brewpub and outside too, plus bocce mall, a Moonbounce, and face painting for the kiddos. Sit back and enjoy great live music from The Sin City Band, Edgwater Avenue, Weekday Warriors and Lower Case Blues throughout the day.