Over the years, pizza shops have pushed the limits of what a pizza can hold; from savory to sweet, the imagination for pizza toppings is seemingly endless. There are those of us who are traditionalists and require few items on a pizza to make us happy. A good crust, basic sauce and properly seasoned ingredients are all you need sometimes; and just because it has loads of cheese on top, does not necessarily make it a better pizza.
Sgt. Peffer’s Café Italiano in particular, has stood the test of time, and continues to convert loyal pizza enthusiasts to fans, year after year. Sgt Peffer’s has a long, rich history in the community and so I decided I wanted to know more about the early beginnings of Sgt. Peffer’s Café Italiano.
Tim Peffer, owner of Sgt. Peffer’s has quite a storied pizza career. From working at the Iowa State University cafeteria complex, -- where 4000 meals, three times a day were prepared -- to stirring gravy with an oar. His early beginnings also included working at Minsky’s Pizza, which was created by Godfather’s founder Greg Johnson.
“I left Minsky's in 1978 to start Pefferoni's Pizza in Florence, with my brother Walt, said Tim Peffer. “I then left Pefferoni's in 1987 to incorporate Sgt. Peffer's Italian Cafe. Some of our staff have even moved on to open and operate other local restaurants. For example, Charlie Thompson has gone on to open the Millard Sgt. Peffer's, and Tony Constantino opened Mangia Italiano. I walked into Minsky's for a job, not a career.
Well that job seemed to have panned out rather well Tim, now let’s talk about this judge’s choice pizza. “Well when you've been in the pizza business since 1978, there's only one thing that adds plain old savory flavor to a perfect pizza, cream cheese. Cream cheese is delicious in so many creations; why not add fresh pineapple, jalapeno, and some high-dollar wafer thin smoked ham? The pizza is our medium thin crust with pomarola sauce, Romano, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan cheese. We did and it was best in judge’s choice and second in people’s choice.”
He is right, not only was I a judge, but now, I am also a client, having purchased the judge’s choice pizza several times since the event. I highly recommend this delicious pie and on a side note, I don’t even like pineapple.
Sgt. Peffer’s also has a location in Millard complete with a party room that features a full bar, and both locations cater weddings with “Pefferfood" as the groupies call it. They offer gluten-free additions on the new menu and summer specials will be posted on banners this spring and summer.
Next year the group will celebrate 25 years in business and with no future plans of slowing down. The recipe is award winning and the owner is as well. Tim Peffer earned Restaurateur of the Year, by the Omaha Restaurant Association in 1996 and inducted into the Omaha Restaurant Association’s Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2007.
There is also something quite fantastic about pizza. I believe, you can tell a lot about someone’s personality from his or her pizza order, but that conversation is for another time. I have said it before and I will say it again, here in Omaha we are fortunate to have a surplus of great local restaurants in the area, support them, and wish them well on another 25 years in the Metro area.
Sgt. Peffers Café Italiano has two Omaha location the original at 1501 North Saddle Creek Road, 402.558.7717 and at 13760 Millard Ave, 402.932.6211.