Jim Zimmerman brings a taste of Italy to Clayton.


Lily Brown

Jim Zimmerman, owner of Pizzino, in his restaurant.

Camille Respess, Editor-in-Chief

In Forte Dei Marmi, a little town in Tuscany, Italy sits a shop, Pizzino. As a child, Vicky Zimmerman visited the shop and after meeting her husband, Jim Zimmerman, she brought him here during their travels. The couple and their family has always admired Pizzino during their visits to Italy. The Italian food culture has been brought to Clayton as Jim Zimmerman, former CHS parent and Clayton resident, opened his own Pizzino last November.

While Jim Zimmerman was bringing his ideas for Pizzino to fruition, he considered what the ideal addition to restaurants in Clayton would be. “We are a fast, casual restaurant serving high quality, Italian-styled, quick foods,” Zimmerman said.

Pizzino is located at 7600 Wydown Blvd. and open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm.
Lily Brown
Pizzino is located at 7600 Wydown Blvd. and open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm.

Pizzino serves pizza by the slice, made to order pizzas and sandwiches made with focaccia in store daily. “We are a focacceria, a panetteria and a pizzeria,” Zimmerman said. “Right now we just really have two of those pieces really going, we make pizza everyday and we make focaccia everyday to make the paninis.”

The restaurant offers two different kinds of crusts for their pizzas. Pizzino’s pizza by the slice is focaccia styled and made on stone. But they have a different approach for their pizza pies. “For this pizza, we start with the shell, a very thin piece of dough, and put it on the grill. We partially bake it on the grill and then we bring those shells inside and we build the pizza from there,” Zimmerman said.

Although Pizzino is Zimmerman’s first restaurant, he has been making Italian foods for over 20 years. Zimmerman has shared his foods with friends and family as he worked to craft it. “At [my annual pizza] parties, I would make all these pizza shells ahead of time and then people would just gather around the table and say, “I want a little of this, and a little of that,” and I would just make pizzas as we would go along,” Zimmerman said. “That was part of the genesis of how this might be accomplished.”

Pizzino has been a project 15 years in the making. Zimmerman decided at that time that he wanted to have an Italian restaurant of his own, but it took time to bring his plans to reality.

Zimmerman has been involved in the food industry and business for his entire career, but Pizzino is his first endeavor started from scratch. “For most of my career I worked in the wholesale food industry serving bakeries,” Zimmerman said. “We sold ingredients: flour, shortening, sugar, to bakeries around the country.”

Thus far, Zimmerman has noticed that his favorite item, the Augustus pizza, is also popular with his customers. “The Augustus pizza starts with an arugula pesto base and then on top of that we put some roasted tomatoes, tomatoes we have roasted for about an hour and a half in the oven to bring out more flavor,” Zimmerman said. “We also bring out some Italian sausage and then some goat cheese, basil and a little bit of olive oil on top and that bakes for about three and a half minutes because our ovens are pretty hot at 660-70 degrees.”

Zimmerman hopes that the patrons of Pizzino take pleasure in the food served there. “My number one hope is that we get enough people in here enjoying what we’re doing so it sustains itself and is profitable because I think that’s the true sign that we’re doing the right thing, if customers come back often enough to support us,” Zimmerman said.

Additionally, Zimmerman hopes for people to feel at ease while at his restaurant. “I want [Pizzino] to be comfortable. I don’t want someone to be hesitant to come in because it’s either too formal or too sloppy,” Zimmerman said. “I want people to feel the warmth from the oven and hear a little music.”