Emerito’s Pizzeria in Alexandria makes a perfect pizza.

Each pie is coated with your choice of deliciously seasoned tomato or homemade barbecue sauce, loaded with fresh toppings edge to edge then cooked in a stone-fired oven producing a thin, crunchy crust. Even the cheese, which is evenly melted and generously covers the entire pizza, strings perfectly when picking up a slice.

Square or pie cut, barbecue or tomato sauce, no matter what and when you order, Pat Rice Sr., owner, guarantees consistency.

“If you eat a pizza here today, we want it to taste the same no matter who makes it two weeks from now,” said Rice. “We don’t want to let our customers down.”

Emerito’s is a family-owned pizzeria that opened its doors in late March.

After Rice Sr. retired from the Elwood Police Department nearly three years ago after 28 years of service, he began kicking around the idea of opening a restaurant with his son Pat Rice Jr. “I was a little bored,” he said as he laughed. “The pizza shop idea just popped up.”

Although he is a resident of Elwood, Rice Sr. said he saw more opportunity for a family-owned pizzeria in Alexandria. “Alexandria doesn’t have a Papa John’s or really any big chains. There are a few pizza places owned locally,” said Rice Jr. “We saw this as the best location.”

Located right next to Strong’s Market off Indiana 9, Emerito’s, which is Rice Sr.’s mother’s maiden name, offers good deals on pizza and free delivery for residents of Alexandria. Although they do deliver to Orestes, there is a $2 delivery fee and a minimum order requirement of $10.

Rice Sr. is a true Italian cook with skills passed down from his grandfather who traveled to America as a stowaway on a boat in 1902.

“Half way over, they discovered him,” said Rice Sr. “He was 12 and they put him to work in the galley as a cook’s assistant. He came through Ellis Island in New York. When he arrived, he was taken in by people form the old country in Little Italy and he went to work in kitchens and eventually became a chef in New York.”

Rice Sr. has passed the love of cooking down to his son, Rice Jr., who was responsible for creating the specially-blended sauce, homemade barbecue sauce for pizzas and wings and who created a special spice blend for the cheese.

“Most of the recipes came from his head,” said Rice Sr. “We also did research on the Internet. We took our time to do our homework. Mostly, though, he would come up with items and we would talk them over.”

Emerito’s offers a variety of pizzas, but the most unusually delicious pie is the Pig Shack Special which comes with barbecue sauce, ham, sausage, pepperoni, salami, bacon and cheese. Along with pizza, Emerito’s serves grinders, breadsticks, calzones, wings and salads.

After finishing a Guido Special, which is a grinder with pizza sauce, ham, salami, pepperoni, green peppers, onion, mushrooms, banana peppers and cheese, Harry Jordanides, a businessman from Indianapolis who stopped in for a bite while in the area on business, said it was probably one of the best tasting sandwiches he’s ever had. “It’s a unique taste,” he said. “(Emerito’s) is different from commercial restaurants.”

“Between our crust and our special sauces, there are a lot of things that make us different,” said Rice Jr. “Not only do we make our own dough, but we put it into cornmeal which reduces friction in the stone-fired oven and produces a crunchy crust. All our vegetables are hand-chopped daily. The sauce has herbs and seasonings from my great-grandfather’s recipe from his days. We use high-end pepperoni that has a better taste and less fat and when it is cooked it doesn’t cup up and become a little bowl of grease. We’re totally different.”

Emerito’s even uses Grande Cheese. “It’s the finest Italian cheese company in America. Their dairies are exclusive,” said Rice Jr.

Even with all the high-end ingredients, Rice Jr. said they make sure they keep their costs down. “We offer three sizes of pizzas at a reasonable price. People don’t need to take the hit when it comes to quality.”

Since March, Rice Sr. said there has been a steady stream of customers who both dine in and have their pizzas delivered. To draw in more customers and really get their product out there, Emerito’s held a grand opening Tuesday at 2 p.m. but the festivities will continue until Saturday.

“We’re holding a grill drawing with a steak package from Strong’s,” said Rice Sr., adding they are also giving away family pack coupons for pizza and holding daily drawings and prizes for customers. “There is no purchase necessary for the grill. All people have to do is come in and put their name down, but we hope they purchase something. We will draw a winner on Saturday, but you don’t have to be present to win. There will also be specials running throughout the week. We invite everyone to stop in.”

If you go...

What: Emerito’s Pizzeria

Where: 1208 N. Park Avenue in Alexandria

When: Hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday from 4-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4-11 p.m. and Sundays from 4-10 p.m. They are closed Mondays.

For delivery or carry out orders, call 724-9050.

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