A new spin on a family tradition in Frisco
The first thing you notice when you walk into Frisco’s newest pizza restaurant is the smell. The scent of fresh dough and sizzling cheese wafts from the large oven dominating the kitchen. Standing at the counter, you breathe it in while you mull over your choices and finally give your order to the person at the cash register, who may very likely be one of the owners themselves.Jason and Jacki Caterina have taken more than 20 years of experience in the pizza restaurant business and translated it into Spinelli’s Pizza & Subs. “The opportunity came up and we decided to give it a shot,” said Jason. Formerly the space of the Summit Eatery, Spinelli’s sits right next to Safeway at the north end of Summit Boulevard in Frisco. The Caterinas have completely redecorated to give the restaurant a warm, Italian feel – the walls are red, hung with signs proclaiming ‘Rome’ and ‘Venice,’ and every tabletop is red-checkered.”We wanted to go with the Italian colors, red, white and green,” Jacki said.Italy and Italian cooking runs in Jason’s family. Though he is originally from New Jersey, his family history stretches back across the Atlantic.”I named it after my grandfather,” he said of his new restaurant. “His last name is Spinelli.”
Although born on separate coasts – Jason in New Jersey and Jacki in Washington – the two met while attending the same high school in Maui, Hawaii. For the next 20 years, they worked together to manage an Italian-style restaurant owned by Jason’s brother. However, as the city became more crowded, Jason and Jacki began to long for a place with open space and fewer people. Having vacationed in Summit County for the past nine years, they decided it was the perfect location to make a new start. The planning for Spinelli’s was not rushed. Jason took a job as an electrician while Jacki worked at Frisco’s Wells Fargo. “We’ve been thinking about it for a long time and just waiting for the right opportunity,” Jason said. “We always knew we’d eventually get back into this, we just needed the right space and timing.”It was October 2012 when everything fell into place. For the next four months, the Caterinas worked to clean and decorate the space, repair heating, venting and electrical and install the giant pizza oven in the kitchen, a process which required disassembly and then reassembly to get it through the door. It’s worth it though, Jason said, because it can bake up to 25 pizzas at one time.Spinelli’s had its soft opening Feb. 12 and business has been good ever since, the couple says, and although they’ve been working hard, they’ve been enjoying it.”We just had so much experience with it, we just felt crazy not using it,” Jason said. “I mean, working for other people, it was paying the bills, but we weren’t really getting anywhere.”
One thing that makes Spinelli’s distinct is that all of the dough, bread and sauces are made from Jason’s personal recipes every morning. “We make all our doughs, breads and sauces from scratch. That’s why we’re here 14-16 hours a day,” Jason said with a laugh.Many of the recipes come from his family or friends of the family, he said, and which he has used for years. He doesn’t experiment anymore, he added, because he knows what’s good and he knows what works. “I pretty much stick with what we’ve got, because I know it works,” he said. “I just hate to change a good thing.”Consistency is one of the key words between Jason and Jacki. The other two are quality and cleanliness. In addition to making things from scratch, they make an effort to use quality ingredients with everything else.”Anybody can put steak and cheese on a roll, or mozzarella on dough,” Jason said. He believes that his personal recipes mixed with quality ingredients makes all the difference.”We want it to be clean,” Jacki said, of the third key word. “We’re here all week and we have to eat here, too,” she said with a laugh.Spinelli’s aims for a family friendly atmosphere, although anyone is welcome. The Caterinas say they love having locals come in and come back. They chose Frisco for its sense of community and they haven’t been disappointed. “And the tourists are just the icing on the cake,” Jacki added.Though Spinelli’s has only been open for two weeks, business has been good and looks to be getting better. The employees have been trained and there’s a definite rhythm in the kitchen now as things fall into place.”It was a lot of work, but we got there,” Jason said. “It was a long road.”Yet the restaurant goes on – the working, the cleaning, the baking and, of course, the eating.”I have been eating this pizza for 20 years and I’m still not tired of it,” Jacki exclaims. “It love it, I absolutely love it.”
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