By Griffin Nelson
Photos by Jane Kortright

I have fond memories of getting pizza as a kid with family or friends. It was a rare outing for special food that equaled quality time and lots of laughs. I have found that, for most people, pizza is often associated with good times and good people. That hasn’t seem to change throughout my life, and I’m happy to say that I’ve recently discovered a new favorite spot to get a slice, Pizza Central .

 The family-friendly atmosphere reflects the ownership. Brothers-in-law Darren Bennett and Tom Duke married sisters and spent years of family vacations plotting how they could get their families in the same town. So, when Pizza Central came up for sale, Duke suggested the venture to Bennett and they decided to go for it. “First thing you check is the product and we fell in love with it,” says Duke.

 It’s hard to beat a product that is made with so much care. The kitchen has two people dedicated to making the 75-100 pounds of pizza dough — requiring a 24-hour proof — each day from scratch, prepping for the following day and rolling out each dough by hand as orders come in. Wanting to make sure that dietary restrictions don’t limit a fun dinner, they have developed a gluten-free crust and a wonderful cauliflower crust, which is “exposed to the direct flame of the oven on both sides to get crispy.”

 Each pizza dough is then given its appropriate toppings, or fillings in the case of their famous calzones. Duke’s favorite calzone is the Destroyer, loaded with tons of meat, jalapeños and extra cheese. “I like spice, it’s fantastic! It’s the only thing I would order for three to four years.” Bennett is keen on the Deluxe, also with extra cheese but less spice and a wide variety of meats and veggies. Pepperoni is a fan favorite, of course, but if you’d like something more personalized you can build your own.

 With 16 taps of craft beer and popular staples, customers can pair that perfect pizza with a glass of beer or wine. There’s sure to be the perfect brew for your favorite pie. “We wanted it to be family-friendly, but also if you want to come hang out at a bar, we’ve got a big one. We’re not going for a sports-bar feel. We want families to feel comfortable as well as individuals and couples who want to hang out at a bar.”

The team backs up their words with actions, eating dinner together as a large family every week. At Pizza Central that feeling extends to the staff — many of whom have been with the team since the beginning, and include Duke’s and Bennett’s daughters. Located in the same shopping center as Home Depot in Evans, Pizza Central is where you can find the best pizza, calzones and specialty Italian dishes to share with all your favorite people.

Appears in the May 2023 issue of Augusta magazine.

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