For nearly two decades, Blue Highway a Pizzeria, a beloved family-owned business, has captured the hearts of its local community. Co-owner Layla Ruffino shares the story of Blue Highway's history and commitment to serving the locals.
The pizzeria's journey began as a fun hobby for the family. They bought a mobile pizza trailer to drive around their hometown of Maryland, offering delicious slices at various art shows and events. This simple hobby laid the foundation for the pizzeria's thriving future.
Today, the restaurant has a culinary legacy that spans three generations. Layla's father, Frank, is the mind behind most of their recipes and menu items. Having excelled as a corporate executive chef, he curated a menu that encapsulated his passion for food and innovation. Each dish was carefully chosen to reflect authentic flavor, from mouthwatering pizzas and sandwiches to fresh salads and calzones.
The restaurant's first brick-and-mortar location opened in the cozy town of Micanopy. At the time, Micanopy wasn't necessarily renowned for its food scene. However, the quick success of Blue Highway underscored the unifying power of good food. Layla shared a fun story about the restaurant's initial introduction to the community. Within the first week of opening, back-to-back hurricanes left a trail of storm surges and power outages. Fortunately, Blue Highway was one of the few that retained electricity. They opened their doors to the community, offering them some air conditioning and delicious food during a tough time. It was the perfect introduction to the community. Soon, people from all over the county would drive for a crispy slice.
Seeing their ability to bring patrons from all over, the owners of Tioga Town Center pleaded with Layla's family to open up a Tioga location. This second location was much bigger than they were used to, allowing them to get even more creative with their menu.
While pizza reigns supreme, Blue Highway a Pizzeria offers more than delectable pies. The Blue Highway salads use local organic lettuce and their signature homemade dressings. The family's unwavering commitment to using fresh, high-quality ingredients is a testament to their dedication to providing an exceptional dining experience that transcends the classic pizza offerings.
We had the privilege of trying their classic margherita pizza and pasta bolognese. The margherita pizza boasts the perfect balance of tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil atop a perfectly crispy crust. The pasta bolognese was the ideal comfort dish. It showcases a slow-cooked meat sauce paired with al dente pasta. These dishes embody Blue Highway Pizza's commitment to quality and authenticity.
"Blue Highway Pizza" isn't merely a name; it holds a more profound significance. Inspired by an autobiographical novel by William Least Heat-Moon, the name symbolizes a journey of exploration and growth. Coincidentally, the Micanopy location sits along 441, a road that once was considered a blue highway, adding a touch of serendipity to the name. This connection between their journey and the novel's themes of adventure and self-discovery is poignant and fitting.
Blue Highway Pizza continues to thrive due to the dedication of its hardworking team. Some members have been with the family for over a decade, infusing the pizzeria with familiarity and warmth. Prioritizing their well-being, Blue Highway Pizza offers health insurance, a matching 401k program, and paid vacation, recognizing that their contributions are vital to the pizzeria's enduring success.
As Blue Highway Pizza celebrates two decades, it is a living testament to the saying, "You have to love what you do." So, with each bite of Blue Highway Pizza, remember that you're also savoring a slice of their remarkable journey, about passion, community, and sharing exceptional food.
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