An intense love for “all things pizza” dating back to when he was a young teenager is what inspired the late Gary Bougie to found Pizzeria Pezzo in White Bear Lake, says Keri Bougie, Gary Bougie’s widow. “Gary wanted to do everything from scratch, using the best quality ingredients possible,” says Keri.
Gary attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale. After graduation, he worked in the culinary world for several years before embarking on the adventure of developing Pizzeria Pezzo.
Pizzeria Pezzo’s dishes are artisanal creations. Each is carefully crafted with the freshest ingredients. A great deal of time and care goes into creating the sauce, fresh mozzarella and dough each day, and every recipe has been created with the best flavor combinations in mind, says Keri.
Keri has kept the dream alive. After Gary’s passing, she took on managing the restaurant. “While I … do not have a culinary background, since my late husband’s passing, I have managed the restaurant from a business perspective, with the help and support of an amazing team of extremely knowledgeable and talented individuals,” she says.
The Heart of Sicily salad with greens, pine nuts, Parmesan, prosciutto and a sweet mustard basil vinaigrette; Fire-side Lemon Basil Wings; Italian Stuffed Mushrooms; the Paisano and the Gorgonzola coal-fired pizzas and the Wrigley Chicago-style pizza are some of Pizzeria Pezzo’s best sellers.
Their house-made, brined, slow-roasted turkey sandwich also gets rave reviews.
Keri’s taste runs to the classics. “I’m a bit simplistic when it comes to my favorite pizza. I love the basic pepperoni deep-dish pizza. The rich tomato sauce is amazingly fresh and abundant, with lots of gooey rich cheese, paired with perfectly salty pepperoni and a crust that is crispy yet slightly chewy, with a delicious, almost buttery flavor,” she says.
While Keri loves pizza, what she most enjoys is being able to provide people with a place to enjoy a wonderful meal and experience, with fresh, best-quality food, just as if they were to prepare it in their own homes. “I love being part of and involved in an amazing community—hearing and interacting with our regular guests, and working with an incredibly talented and kind-hearted team,” she says.
That kind-heartedness extends to the White Bear Lake community at large. Since Gary’s passing, the community has been extremely supportive—from the beautiful cards and notes and guests’ continued support and kind words to receiving honest feedback and insight about the restaurant, says Keri.
“The city as a whole has embraced the business, and has continued to show their support for Pezzo, always being receptive to any concerns and helping us to navigate any changes and challenges that arose from Gary’s passing,” says Keri. “The Kowalskis have been a major supporter of me personally, as well as of the business, and other White Bear Lake area businesses have also been extremely giving, going above and beyond to help. We truly love this community and could not be more appreciate of everyone.”
Thanks to the continued support and success of the restaurant, Keri and her team are hoping to grow in the Twin Cities area in the near future. “We are also enthusiastic about broadening our offerings—branching out with new and exciting dishes and products,” says Keri. Pezzo recently launched some retail items that are sold in the restaurant, including two different salad dressings, a pizza sauce and take-and-bake frozen deep-dish pizzas.
“We hope to soon launch our house-made gelato as well, under a sister-brand—Gevali Gelato—to be sold exclusively at Pezzo,” Keri says. “We look forward to continuing to grow with the White Bear Lake community and increase our involvement.”