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Neighborhood Eats: Manicomio Pizza & Food

In a town full of good pizza options, what sets Manicomio Pizza & Food apart is that they serve New York-style pizza by the slice. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

This week's Neighborhood Eats is located in the heart of downtown Asheville at a newly opened pizza joint along Biltmore Avenue.

In a town full of good pizza options, what sets Manicomio Pizza & Food apart is that they serve New York-style pizza by the slice.

"This is what New York pizza should be. It's got a little bit of brown on the crust from the bubbles," co-owner Mike Napelitano said of the pizza at his shop. "It's got a nice cheese, the sauce and crust, right down to the cheese, and that's the way a pizza should be."

Napelitano moved to Asheville to retire and said he noticed a void in the food scene as he walked the streets of downtown.

"If you get a slice of pizza in downtown Asheville, you had to wait. Why would you wait for one slice of pizza?" Napelitano said.

So, Napelitano and partner Jon Leibowitz decided to open Manicamio in August. "Manicamio" is the Italian word for "madhouse" -- a nod to Napelitano's unusual retirement plan of working 105 hours a week.

"I figured to go back into the business at 65 years old, I have to be crazy," he explained. "So, we named it after me."

Crazy or not, Napelitano's passion for pizza shows in his product and keeps locals coming back.

"They do it right there. It's the right size, it's the right thickness of the crust, you can hold it in your hand and eat it," repeat customer and North Asheville resident Tom Mock said. "So, it's just exactly what pizza by the slice ought to be."

When you stop by Manicomio's, you may notice it's in the former location of Hannah Flanagan's, which shut down in 2014. The building has since been renovated and transformed into a warm and bright space.

"All new electrical, plumbing, roof, outside walls, the outside patio, deck, everything had to be done new," Napelitano said.

"Everyday, there's probably five to 10 people that just go, 'Wow!' They're shocked at mainly just how bright it is," Leibowitz added.

Manicomio Pizza & Food is at 27 Biltmore Ave. in downtown Asheville. They're open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

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