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Battistas Buy Pasquale's, Keep Traditions

If opening Bluebeard, the Italian-inspired Holy Rosary hotspot, was all about innovation for restaurateurs Ed and Tom Battista, buying the 55-year-old Pasquale’s Pizza on Troy Avenue was mainly about keeping traditions. At least that’s what the father-and-son team discovered when they took over the beloved pizza takeout in the southside Carson Heights neighborhood in early July. They knew they wanted to make things more consistent, ensuring the dough was proofed for 24 hours and that customers had shorter waits for their pies. But take the shrimp dinner or “original Stromboli” off the menu? Never.
Tom, the elder of the entrepreneurial duo, had long planned to add his own artisan pizza place to their growing group of culinary businesses, which will include an expanded retail space for Amelia’s Bakery next spring. Then came a surprise proposition from Pasquale’s owner and fellow Brebeuf grad Rich DeCamp, when he stopped in for some bread in the spring. “It was an offer we couldn’t refuse,” says Tom’s son Ed, who, along with manager and one-time Bazbeaux Pizza co-worker Aaron Wolverton, handles many of the day-to-day details at the pizzeria, which never closed during the sale.
Although the Battistas hope to renovate the carryout spot to offer dine-in seating, they want to retain the location’s charm, from the “No Bare Feet” sign above the kitchen to a counter covered in bumper stickers, one dating to the Nixon-Agnew campaign. Near the cash register hang autographed headshots of Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck, though no one can verify whether they actually ever dined there. “Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t tell us they’ve been coming here for decades,” says Wolverton. “It’s an institution to the locals, so you don’t come in and think you’re going to change it all at once.” 1135 E. Troy Ave., 317-787-7223

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.