‘Patriots Pizza’ a fan favorite at Johnston bakery

Just in time for Saturday’s playoff game, a Johnston bakery is scoring big with the “Patriots Pizza.”

Mary Tobin, who manages D. Palmieri’s Bakery on Killingly Street, said she has been “inundated” with orders ever since Eric Palmieri crafted the cheesy creation and they posted a photo of the “one-of-a-kind” pizza on Facebook last week.

“He comes up with ideas for different pizzas sometimes, and with this one, he decided to do a variation of the Patriots logo,” Tobin told NBC 10 News Thursday, noting that Eric bases the design on the former “Flying Elvis” logo, which features the head of a minuteman wearing a red, white and blue hat. “It’s a full sheet of pizza. He uses olives and pepperoni.”

While black olives form the outline of the face and portions of the hat, pepperoni serves as the star and tail of the headpiece.

Eric, who said it takes him “a solid half-hour” to make each logo, also uses plenty of gooey mozzarella cheese.

“There’s a lot of cheese on it because if I don’t put extra cheese on it, the sauce bleeds through and I really want it to be white in the background,” he said.

For Eric, whose father, Stephen, owns the bakery, the week after the holidays tends to be slow. With a little more time on his hands, as well as the NFL playoffs approaching, he decided to concoct the mouthwatering masterpiece.

“I knew the playoffs were coming up and thought it would be a fun thing for people to order this big sheet pan pizza that had a giant Patriots logo on it,” he said. “It was really as simple as that.”

But considering the post-Christmas lull at the bakery, he has the luxury of taking his time and being perfectly precise on every order.

“I really want to make sure that the face and the shape is right,” he said. “I have to cut the pepperoni in half and make sure all the lines are straight and the proportions are right.”

The novelty pizza feeds nearly 25 people, with two pieces for everyone. It sells for $45.

“For special occasions like this, it’s perfect,” Eric said. “Our customers can come here and get something that can make their party memorable. I think that in general that’s something that I really value. Our food -- our product in general -- makes family parties and get-togethers more enjoyable.”

Eric passion is evident for continuing his family’s legacy at the bakery, which his grandfather, Domenic, opened in the 1970s. His great-great-grandfather first founded a location in Providence in 1905, but it was later sold.

After a fire broke out at the Johnston shop in July 2007, Eric said he saw how devastated customers were and he realized just how special the bakery is not only to the community, but to him, as well.

“It kind of blew me away,” Eric said. “People are bringing our food and taking it to their homes and kitchen tables and we’re helping making their lives -- in some very small way -- maybe a little bit nicer.”

Now, it’s a family tradition he is proud to continue.

“When you make something and people really respond to it and they come back again and again, it really does mean a lot,” Eric said. “It really makes you feel good. I love my job and I love working with my family. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

The bakery is taking orders for the “Patriots Pizza” through Friday ahead of the game. New England and Texas are scheduled to take the field Saturday at 8:15 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

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