Bluffton pizza shop owner take a homegrown approach

Special to The Bluffton PacketSeptember 19, 2012 

When Darren Macioszek set out to buy a pizza shop, he paid attention to the age-old phrase, "Location, location, location."

The Bluffton chef also has added another mantra to his business philosophy: "Local, local, local." And that includes everything from many of the toppings on his pizzas, to the entertainment offered in the backyard at Fiddlehead Pizza.

"It's just cool. I have no better way to describe what I'm doing other than that," said Macioszek, who opened the pizza shop in March.

Originally from outside Pittsburgh, Macioszek has lived in the area for about 15 years and learned a lot of his culinary skills working at Wexford Plantation from 1998 to 2002. He and his wife, Stacey, owned Walnuts Cafè in Bluffton's at Sheridan Park in Bluffton, before selling it in 2005. Six years later, he jumped back in the competitive business of pizza shops.

The restaurant, on Burnt Church Road near Bruin Road, has been a pizza shop under other names in the past, most recently Monster Pizza.

"The reason why I bought this is the location," Macioszek said. "Friends of ours were the owners here, and it always had some kind of an interesting draw, for whatever reason."

Macioszek added part of the attraction was because the spot is the oldest pizza restaurant location in Bluffton, dating back to 1982. But Fiddlehead Pizza -- named after the edible fiddlehead fern -- is more than just a pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza joint.

Macioszek's plan, which he is reaching one ingredient at a time, is to provide customers with as many locally (and South Carolina) grown products as possible. The farm-to-table concept dates back to the 44-year-old's childhood on his grandfather's 300-acre farm in Washington County, Pa.

"I remember as a kid, having fresh-baked bread all the time and a lot of off-the-farm ingredients. I remember eating tomato sandwiches, or a butter lettuce and spring onion sandwich," Macioszek said.

Quail eggs, which are one of many premium toppings, are locally grown at Yahveh Farms. Macioszek buys his lamb (for lamb confit) and chorizo (chopped pork) from Scotts Meats in Bluffton. He gets his goat cheese through Split Creek Farm in Anderson. Other meats are distributed through MiBek Farms in Barnwell.

Macioszek said cooking with locally grown produce is a bit more challenging and he continues to build relationships with farmers. Yahveh Farms provides Fiddlehead Pizza with about 60 percent of its produce. The northern Jasper County farm produces naturally grown and chemical-free produce.

The restaurant's citric-acid free and salt-free tomato sauce is bought from a California distributor for economic reasons. The pizza dough is made from three different strains of yeast that produces a sour dough taste.

Macioszek's plans for the green space in the backyard involve planting an herb garden and building compost piles.

In the meantime, the half-acre grassy lot already has taken on a life of its own. Since opening, Masciozek and Bluffton artist Kelly Graham have built a stage out of used wooden pallets. In April, Masciozek hired Bluffton guitar- and mandolin-player Alan Stockard to perform Saturday nights. After that, it didn't take long for a new Bluffton musicians' venue and hangout to sprout.

"It just kind of happened," Macioszek said of the Beer Garden Stage at Fiddlehead Pizza "It was a build-it-and-they-will-come sort of thing."

Stockard usually plays on Saturday nights with other bluegrass musicians. Thursdays have turned into cover-band night and Friday features everything from reggae to blues.

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