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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Ferguson’s Favorite Food Fare: The Local Pizza Joint

Cody Ferguson
An exterior shot of The Joint from their parking lot.

This past weekend I decided to visit The Local Pizza Joint located on Merrimon Avenue. It’s owned by Chris and Jasper Leronimo. Chris is originally from Canada, and his menu reflects that with the addition of poutine and a poutine pizza. 

“This place is always busy, and it’s usually just a few people here. It’s a great business, and the owners Chris and Jasper are super involved with everything. When we’re able to have our normal hours, we’re always open later than the other pizza spots on Merrimon, especially on weekends,” manager Holly Williams said.

The Joint is open from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. on the weekends, and is looking forward to opening at 2 p.m. during the week once they’ve acquired enough staff.

“We’ve been open for around five and a half months, but we just can’t keep workers,” Williams said. “Chris and Jasper, the owners, are always here helping us but we can’t keep everything open without more people.”

Atmosphere: This place is stark and clean. The outside facade of brick is contrasted by a bright yellow interior that elicits feelings of being in an old diner. The restaurant is in the process of acquiring a liquor license so they can dispense local beer and wine to all the dine-in guests, and once they’ve added that to the experience it will bring up the atmosphere to another level. There weren’t any patrons dining-in on the day I went, as they were mostly taking online or take-out orders. Nothing is extremely niche within the building, and it just feels correct for a place to stop and grab a pizza, salad, wings or fries with a group of friends.

Service: During this visit, I found out that there were a very limited number of employees at The Local PIzza Joint. Williams said that for the first half of their business day it would only be two of them, until the owners were able to show up. Given this circumstance, I will withhold judgment of the service given to me. My pizza was received in a timely manner, and the employees present were clearly working to make sure no one had an excessive wait at the establishment.

The neapolitan pizza from The Joint topped with marinara, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. (Cody Ferguson)

Presentation: I would have likely preferred the pizza boxes to have a logo or some branded insignia, but I can overlook the box for the presentation level that their pizza had to offer. Just looking at the color of the crust and hearing the crunch when I squeezed the edges I knew I was in for a treat. The Joint takes pride in making their pizza look full and appetizing. The bottom of the crust has the proper leopard spotting I would expect from a place with a pizza oven, and nothing was cold, even after taking a few minutes to get pictures and probably 15 minutes to get cold. According to Williams, this is because of a cardboard disk they put between the pizza and the pizza box that holds the heat of the pizza inside of the box rather than letting it dissipate through the box.

The chicken bacon ranch pizza from The Joint topped with alfredo sauce, smoked chicken, bacon and drizzled with ranch.
(Cody Ferguson)

Taste: The Joint serves so much more than pizza, but I wasn’t looking into getting any of that for this review. I picked a traditional neapolitan and my personal favorite in the chicken bacon ranch pizza. I wanted to see if the sauces they used for the base of the pizza were good and they were absolutely delicious! The marinara felt fresh, light and tangy. There was an emphasis on the tomatoes being the star, with the basil and mozzarella being a source of heterogeneity in every bite. The crust was solid and held up without needing to fold the slice of pizza in half. The outer edge was delightfully fluffy and light with the crumb I would compare to a homemade sourdough bread. The chicken bacon ranch pizza came exactly as I would have expected it to, and exactly how it looked on the menu. It was dotted with smoked chicken chunks and crisp pieces of bacon then evenly drizzled with a delicious ranch dressing. The big test was when I went to cook the leftover pizza slices the next day. I used the oven set to its highest temperature and let the pizzas warm up for about 8 minutes. They were almost identical to the day before when I had them fresh and hot out of The Joint’s professional oven. 

Overall Impression: The Joint is a local pizza place that shines out amongst tough competition on Merrimon Avenue. Their prices aren’t any more expensive than your local Papa John’s or Domino’s, but the quality of ingredients and dough are leagues above anything I’ve had from a chain spot. The location can only improve as they continue to train and recruit more long-term staffing and are able to completely open up the dining room with drinks, alcohol and comradery. Merrimon Avenue was never going to be short on pizza, but now there’s always going to be a good pizza just a mile off the UNC Asheville campus. I’d give The Local Pizza Joint a firm Ferguson stamp of approval.

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