Pizza is such a beloved food that no matter where you find yourself on the North Shore, it’s not too hard to find a slice. But what you won’t find anywhere but Newburyport is Epicureo, home to some of the best pizza north of Boston. Epicureo is the brainchild of The Urban Epicurean himself Tony Carbone, who has long had a personal passion for pizza. Located at 50 Water Street inside the Tannery Historic Marketplace, Epicureo is doing things its own way—cash only, no phone, and no online ordering.
Carbone is completely devoted to quality over quantity, and it is this philosophy that flows through everything he creates at Epicureo. The pizzas themselves are served as whole pies in one size only (16 inches). The dough is prepared daily by Carbone in limited batches and is proofed for 72 hours. Then there is the crust. “I’m from Long Island, and for me, the crust is really important. Our sauce is a raw sauce with seasonings. I take a lot of pride in every single pizza I create, which is 100 percent made to order.”
He makes about 40 to 45 pizzas each day that the shop is open, which is typically Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or until the pizzas sell out, in which case the shop will update its Instagram stories so you don’t make an unnecessary trip, although it is tough to call a trip to the Tannery, with all of its shopping options, unnecessary). The best way to stay updated on the day’s specials and pizzas is to follow its Instagram account (@Epicureopizza), and specifically the stories, which are updated often.
Pizza is good at any time of the year, and in winter it feels especially comforting. In addition to menu mainstays—Forrest Four Cheese, Pepperoni, Margherita, and Garlic and Herb, which is made with a roasted garlic purée in vegetable stock, fresh lemon zest, parsley, basil, gouda, and mozzarella (Epicureo’s version of a white pizza)—weekly specials are a menu highlight. Shopping and supporting local is important to Carbone, who regularly frequents Tendercrop Farms, Affamata, and Joppa Fine Foods for inspiration and seasonal ingredients as well as oils and balsamic vinegars that he can incorporate into his specials.
“I often like to create specials based on the season and from what I am inspired by,” says Carbone, so shopping for seasonal ingredients at local shops who value quality as much as he does is an easy win for him and his customers.
After working as a private chef and caterer for thirteen years, Carbone is applying Epicureo’s concept of quality over quantity to his own quality of life in Newburyport, where he and his wife are raising their children. Being closed on the weekends and having manageable weekday operating hours for both himself and his customers has been a key component of Epicureo’s design.
To this end, the pizza is delicious out of the oven (there are tables and chairs located just outside of Epicureo if you want to eat inside the Tannery), and it also serves well cold or reheated. For Carbone, having the opportunity to work alongside his uncle who moved from New Jersey to help at Epicureo has been another bonus of the job. Both men are as happy to chat with each other as they are with customers, and being centrally located on the first floor of the Tannery allows for plenty of foot traffic.
“Whether it is a new customer, a potential customer, or a friend, I love that we are establishing a presence here and that people know they are welcome to stop by,” says Carbone. And while he loves talking to everyone, Carbone readily admits he just might have a favorite group. “For me, one of the best things has to be when local kids come by, whether they are here for lessons after school, or stopping by a store. I love when I hear their voices rounding the corner and that they want to say hi to me and feel like this is a place where they are welcome.”