MOROSO

Dan Moroso will open a wood-fired pizza restaurant in the newly remodeled Market Square retail center on Bosque Boulevard.

Staff photo— Jerry Larson

People have eagerly awaited the opening of Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria at 4700 Bosque Blvd., where Cafe Cappuccino once served some of the best omelettes in town.

Well, the wait is over, said proprietor Dan Moroso, who has completed nearly a year of demolition, new construction, interior decoration and training of staffers to create what he thinks is a dining experience that local diners will appreciate. He even shipped a 2-ton, wood-fired oven from the East Coast to prepare his dishes.

“Social media has responded favorably with five-star ratings and compliments regarding the food, service and interior decor,” Moroso said in a news release.

He said pizzas prepared on a deck at just under 1,000 degrees are the main attraction. But the menu also offers an assortment of Italian appetizers, salads, desserts and beverages “unique and new in Waco.” The remodeling of the space that once accommodated Cafe Cappuccino was more time-consuming than it might have been had Moroso not included such touches as an Edison lighting design, a custom-made concrete bar top and reclaimed wood from the old Bluebonnet ordnance plant in McGregor and a Civil War homestead.

In the near future, Moroso said, he will create patio seating to give the pizzeria even more capacity for customers.

Offering his opinion on the local dining scene, Moroso said, “The long-anticipated opening of Moroso underscores a shift in Waco restaurant trends by offering handcrafted, artisan-style food comparable to restaurants in Dallas, Houston and Austin. Moroso brings in San Marzano tomatoes, flour and other ingredients from Italy. The wine list is made up from wines exclusively from a variety of regions in Italy, and everything is made from scratch using fresh ingredients.”

Pizzas start at $8 at Moroso, which is owned by Dan and Robyn Moroso and opens Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, but soon will add a lunch menu and Sunday brunch.

A menu and pictures of the pizzeria are accessible on the Moroso website at www.morosopizzeria.com.

On other pizza fronts, the Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom in Central Texas Marketplace will open Tuesday, general manager Clayton Chamberland said.

He said by phone he has nearly completed hiring the 100 people he will need to staff the place, but continues to conduct interviews.

Old Chicago has “well over” 100 franchised and corporate locations, each of which serves about 40 craft beers, pizzas, sandwiches, wings, calzones and salads.

Meanwhile, Pie Five Pizza has taken space in a shopping and retail strip near South Fourth Street and Interstate 35, behind In-N-Out Burger.

It has not yet opened, but when it does, it will allow customers to walk through a line and choose toppings to place on a “circle of dough,” which it touts in advertising.

Mad Hasher Waco

Another food truck has entered the downtown arena of eats, this one operating as Mad Hasher Waco.

It can be found at the food truck park at Franklin Avenue and University Parks Drive, opening around 10 a.m. and closing at midnight or later.

“We’re trying to become the late-night breakfast place in town, and we’ll stay open into the early morning if we can,” said Dean Covic, who serves as chef and manager for the truck owned by Jonya Williams, who operates Rio Brazos Catering. Covic said he’s a U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of Texas State Technical College’s culinary school.

The menu weighs heavily on hashes, as one might expect. The lineup includes Breakfast Daddio, $6.50; The Green Thumb, $8.50; The Skinny Joey, $9.25; and El Clupacabra, $9.25. Sandwiches available include the “Cuban” Gooding Jr., $8.75; Soul Sister, $8.75; Southern Gentleman, $9; Patio Daddio, $9.50; and The Dancing Boar, $9.50.

The offerings include lots of everything from Philly Cheesesteak, organic vegetables and smoked brisket to pork loin, buttermilk fried chicken, sausage and eggs.

Toppings on the various entrees include avocado, roasted tomatillo salsa, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, jalapeno ranch, Southern bourbon barbecue sauce, diced bacon bits, garlic tomatoes, roasted garlic aioli and pico de gallo. An extra $2 fetches shredded smoked brisket, sliced brisket, espresso pork loin or shaved sirloin.

“More than anything, we want the public to know we’re open late,” said Covic, adding Mad Hasher has peppered as many Baylor University students as possible with coupons.

Former spa property

The former Spa at Canyon Oaks property in Crawford has been placed under contract by a potential buyer, who now has 60 days to examine the transaction and the property and whether a deal should be consummated. That’s according to the real estate agent Brad Harrell, who is listing a 27-room complex on 31 acres.

Owner Destiny Williams abruptly closed the popular getaway in July, and the price dropped from $1 million to $849,000 in recent weeks, with Harrell saying he probably would lower the asking price $25,000 a week until he received an offer. Now he has one, he said, though the identity of the potential buyer remains a mystery.

Harrell said he is working with real estate agent C.M. Nevill, at Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors, who represents the interested party.

For years, the Spa at Canyon Oaks attracted clients from all over Texas with its beauty and fitness treatments, spa suite, pool, hot tub and sauna. Harrell has said it would make an ideal location for a bed-and-breakfast venue or for an event center to host weddings, family reunions, corporate meetings and anniversaries.

Nevill confirmed his client, a local person, “is in the very early stages of due diligence.” He said he could not comment on a possible use.

Gas prices

Analysts with GasBuddy.com said to look for prices at the pump to fall after Labor Day, and they were right on the money.

AAA Texas released its weekly report Thursday, and it showed a 4-cent drop statewide in the average price of regular unleaded, putting the statewide average at $2.

Of the major metropolitan areas, drivers in Amarillo and El Paso are paying the most on average at $2.02 per gallon, while drivers in Corpus Christi are paying the least at $1.94 per gallon. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded stood at $2.18 on Thursday, 4 cents less than the previous week and 21 cents less than last year.

In Waco, the average on Friday was hovering around $1.96, 3 cents less than the $1.99 a week earlier.

Among the cheapest prices were found at the Pilot and Flying J travel centers on Interstate 35, where regular unleaded was going for $1.79 a gallon.

“Prices rose in the second half of August due to increasing crude oil prices and uncertainty regarding Hurricane Hermine’s impact on Gulf Coast refineries,” AAA Texas said. “When it became clear that the storm would not impact production, prices dropped quickly during the second half of last week and through the weekend.”

Balcones in NYC

Waco-based Balcones Distilling made quite a splash at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competiton held in late August in New York City.

Winning Double Gold Medals were Balcones’ Texas No. 1 Single Malt, True Blue 100 Whisky and Texas Blue Corn Bourbon.

The company’s popular Baby Blue Corn Whisky and Texas Rum captured Silver Medals, the company said in a reports on its performance.

“It is always gratifying and humbling to have our whiskies recognized at an international level,” head distiller Jared Himstedt said.

The New York World Wine and Spirits Competition is one of the largest competitions for the retail beverage industry in the world. It attracts top professional judges from restaurants, bars and clubs, food and beverage buyers, mixologists, educators, columnists, sommeliers and chefs.

“The Balcones brand is one of excellence, as evidenced by this year’s awards. It is an accomplishment for any distiller to achieve Double Gold, and Balcones has taken home three of them this year, in addition to two Silver Medals. We are excited for them and proud of their achievement,” said Steven Wesler, competition director for the event.

He was quoted in a prepared statement that included a history of Balcones, which has earned more than 160 awards and accolades since 2009, 50 in 2015 alone.

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