So I didn’t manage to obtain the secrets behind making New Haven style pizza (besides, would it even compare to the real thing if you made it at home?) But, I did get a great recipe for one of Pete’s Apizza’s antipasti: carmelized winter squash, sundried cherries and apple crisps with a cider vinaigrette. According to Chef Marr, you can use a variety of squash for this recipe–butternut squash, acorn squash–depending on your preferences and what’s available or in season. For those of you wary about stepping in the kitchen, fear not. The dish is an easy, but impressive, appetizer to serve to your friends the next time they come over for dinner. The recipe is for a large amount, so feel free to scale it down if you’re not cooking for a crowd.
Walking into the Pete’s Apizza location in Tenleytown, I approached the counter and asked for Chef Thomas Marr. “Chef who?” said the cashier. Suddenly I was afraid that I had gotten the location wrong. Was I supposed to go to the one in Columbia Heights? Did I get the time wrong? “Uhh, let me go check for you,” he said. No sooner did the jovial chef come out to greet me, the cashier laughed, “Sorry, when you said ‘chef’ I got confused. He’s known as one of the owners around here.”
Wearing multiple hats is exactly what Marr does–he’s a chef, but he’s also one of the co-founders of Pete’s Apizza and is often busy managing the restaurant and talking with familiar customers. “Restaurant people are restaurant people,” he says, adding that once they start working in the restaurant business, they stay. For Marr, he always enjoyed the hospitality aspect and getting satisfaction out of making customers happy. Marr entered the restaurant world as a dishwasher, graduated to doing prep work and eventually trained at the Culinary Institute of America. He’s worked in restaurants across the world, including DC’s own National Gallery of Art.