Behind the Plates: Claysburg Pizza makes a ton of dough

Nearly 60-year-old secret recipes passed down

Mirror photo by Cherie Hicks / Paul Medasie, owner of Claysburg Pizza, pulls a stromboli from the oven.

CLAYSBURG — The local pizzeria has changed hands three times since it opened in 1959, but one thing has stayed the same: the recipes.

“I’ve never seen any dough recipe like ours. It’s our combination of bread and pizza,” Claysburg Pizza owner Paul Medasie said. “That’s all I can say about that,” he added, with a smile.

While Medasie has entrusted a few employees with the dough information, he is the only one who knows the sauce.

“I put six different spices into the sauce,” he said. “I have it written down for my wife in case something happens to me.”

Claysburg Pizza is known for its square-cut pizzas, selling 10,000 to 12,000 cuts a week; one cut costs $1.09. Strombolis also have grown in popularity since they were added to the menu in 1981. And the restaurant continues to add items.

Sticky Sticks, with an icing recipe that includes peanut butter and cinnamon on the pizza dough, were created in 2007.

Medasie’s Uncle Walter, nicknamed Waldo, inspired the restaurant to add breadsticks stuffed with pepperoni and cheese named after the uncle.

“It’s a unique item, and we sell a lot of those,” Medasie said.

Casey Fleegle of Pleasantville said the Waldos are her favorite because they don’t have pizza sauce inside and she doesn’t like sauce. She was eating lunch with her boy­friend, Lucas Berkey of Osterburg, recently, and they come in about once a month.

They are like most of Claysburg Pizza’s customers, Medasie said, who live within 10 miles and mostly to the south, are regulars and headed toward Altoona for shopping. But some customers are from Altoona.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” said Berkey. “I really like the square-cut pizza.”

Another dessert recipe that Medasie created is called Monkey Bread Nuggets. They are made from the fresh dough, butter and a sweet icing “that is heavenly … and will melt in your mouth.”

In the last couple of years, Medasie added wings and fries to the menu.

“Our fries are fresh cut, and we put them in a brine to take out the starch and then double-fry them,” he said. “Our wings are huge, very meaty. A dozen (for $10.99) is about two pounds of chicken.”

Wings come in 10 different flavors, including Honey Mustard Sweet Thai Chili and Roasted Garlic Butter. A couple of the flavored sauces are made in-house and others come from a Baltimore source, Medasie said.

They make the blue cheese dressing from scratch, and some people will order it by the pound.

“People say it’s the best,” he said.

For the health-conscious, Claysburg Pizza also now offers salads, including a side version for $1.99 and a chicken, steak, ham, turkey or taco ranging from $3.79 to $4.99. Or try a sub or wrap starting at $5.69.

Five years ago, Medasie made a major change by adding a fundraising arm to the business that helps nonprofit groups sell the popular strombolis.

“Last year, we did over 200,000 strombolis just for fundraising,” he said. “We have helped groups raise $1.2 million in that five years.”

The fundraising department also makes cinnamon rolls that aren’t necessarily on the restaurant’s menu. The rolls are made from the special pizza dough and are a little different from the Sticky Sticks, Medasie said.

“We use special ingredients,” he said, with another smile. “People are going nuts over them.”

If you can’t find a fund­raiser, you can also pick up the strombolis and cinnamon rolls at Sac Shops in Bed­ford and Everett.

With the special dough going into so many recipes, Claysburg Pizza makes almost a ton of dough weekly. Literally.

“We make almost 2,000 pounds of dough a week,” Medasie said.

And there’s preparation that goes into all of that because the dough takes four hours to prepare.

“We have to make sure we make enough dough because if we run out…” he said.

But with records dating back 30 years, Medasie said he knows from experience how much to make of each product on a daily basis.

“We know what we’re going to sell to help us prepare for each day,” he said.

That is why the drive-through, added in 1990, became so popular. You can call ahead and pick up, or you can order at the window and have your order ready usually in five minutes, Medasie said.

“We’re not fast food, but we’re fast for a pizzeria,” he said.

Wings and the round thin-crust pizzas might take a little longer.

Medasie said his family have been involved with the pizzeria almost since the start. The founding owner was Gene Caparella, and two weeks after he opened it, Medasie’s father, Jay, went to work there at the age of 12.

A little later, Al Lestochi bought the pizzeria, and Jay continued working there until he went off to college. After graduation, Jay returned and a few years later, in 1972, bought the business and moved it from its Bedford Street location to its current site.

Like his father, Paul went to work there at a young age — 11 years old — waiting on customers and making pizza.

Paul bought it from his father 10 years ago and grew the business to 26 employess, five of them on the fundraising site.

“If you include our fund­raising, we’re in the top 100 pizzerias in the country,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

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Behind the Plates

Claysburg Pizza

13363 Dunnings Highway, Claysburg

(814) 239-2921

Online: www.ClaysburgPizza.com, www.facebook.com/ClaysburgPizza/

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday

Atmosphere: Casual

Specials: Everyday specials include 12 pizza cuts, six breadsticks and four Sticky Sticks for $14.49; check website and menu for rotating deals.

Prices: One cut of square-cut pizza is $1.09, strombolis start at $5.35.

Capacity: 60

Notes: Drive-through window, deliveries to local businesses, takeout and online and smart-phone app ordering.

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