By Jonathan Phelps
---- — WENHAM — Before Grassy Roots cafe opened in 2010, Henderson's Cafe and the Wenham Tea House were the places to dine in town.
Now, residents will soon be able to order takeout pizza without leaving town.
Mangia Neapolitan Pizzeria is expected to open in a vacant retail spot at 158 Main St. in January. This will be the first and only pizza place in town, according to town planning officials.
“We are a gourmet pizzeria,” owner Steve Fenerjian said. “We are bringing in a very healthy high-end option for the people in the Wenham/Hamilton area.”
The restaurant will feature New Haven-style pizza, which is known for its thin, crispy crust. All of Mangia’s pies are made with whole-wheat dough and fresh ingredients, Fenerjian said.
Besides pizza, the menu will also feature artisan sandwiches, homemade pasta dishes and “designer” salads.
Not only will this be the first pizza shop in town, this will be Mangia’s first location north of Boston. The small chain currently includes 10 other stores in the Boston area and South Shore.
The first restaurant opened in Brookline Village in 2003, Fenerjian said.
The Wenham location will offer takeout and delivery only and will be operated by licensee Derek Langone of Danvers.
“I think we will complement the other businesses well,” Fenerjian said. “I hope we are a draw and bring people into the business district.”
Fenerjian said he and Langone jumped at the opportunity to lease the property because they thought it was such a good fit. About 10 to 12 employees will be hired on a rotating schedule, he said.
What will the new takeout restaurant bring to the town?
“An option,” said Emilie Cademartori, the town’s planning coordinator. “It gives residents something they need to leave town to get now.”
She said it is great for the town to see a new business open in the refurbished residence in the middle of town’s business district. The building is owned by Maria Lekkakos, who also owns and leases two other commercially zoned buildings on Route 1A.
The pizza shop will be next to Lekkakos’ salon, M. Lekkakos Salon, Spa & Boutique.
Two years ago, the town celebrated a so-called business renaissance with several new retail stores opening in downtown, including Grassy Roots and Viola Lovely boutique.
Lekkakos said she loves the concept of the pizza shop, especially its gluten-free and healthier options. Like Fenerjian, she said the shop will blend in well with the other businesses downtown.
“I think it is great to have a pizza place, because we don’t have one,” Lekkakos said. “It is a new brand and a new concept.”
Lekkakos has been credited with much of the business development downtown in recent years.
“It is great for the downtown to have these new businesses because it gives residents a place to shop here in town,” she said. “It is nice to give the consumers something new to try, and hopefully they will frequent the other businesses, as well.”