Home Business Behind the Scenes: Papa’s Pizza Downtown

Behind the Scenes: Papa’s Pizza Downtown

BTS (Behind the scenes) is back thanks to Centennial Bank, and this time I took my talents to Papa’s Pizza Downtown to test my skills at their infamous pizza tossing and pizza making skills. Let’s just say, I am keeping my day job. Make sure you watch the full BTS video above to watch my pizza dough skim the ceiling during a pizza toss.


As a long time Papa’s Pizza fan, I was super excited when I heard one was opening in downtown Pensacola. Their New York style pizza has been gracing the beach since 1998, so it was about time us downtown dwellers got some of the goodness.

Upon walking into the downtown shop located in the heart of downtown at 18 E Garden Street, you immediately feel like you’ve walked into an authentic New York City Pizzeria. A shotgun style building allows for a long counter and bar seating area where you get a first hand look at all the kitchen action. From pizza dough tossing to ooey-gooey cheese bubbling, you’ll get a front row seat. Prefer a cozy booth? There are several of those too.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the owners, husband and wife team Nick and Vanessa Burleigh, you really hit the jackpot. The welcoming, entrepreneurial couple began their Papa’s journey in 2006 & 2007 when they both worked for original owner, Michael Pinzone on Pensacola Beach.

Pinzone is originally from New Jersey and the mastermind behind the the house-made dough and house-made sauce recipe. After nearly 7 years at Papa’s, Nick knew he wanted to open a pizza shop of his own one day and loved the idea of opening one in his hometown of Pensacola. The couple looked at many different options, but nothing felt right. Until it did.

“I have a very personal connection with Pensacola and downtown because of my grandfather and it just felt right when the location presented itself. I feel like this franchise is about family, and our location reminding me of our family history every day was a good enough reason to say, ‘why not? Let’s be a part of the downtown community.’ And it as been the best decision!” — Vanessa Burleigh, Co-Owner, Papas Pizza Downtown.

While my pizza making skills were not up to par with the Papa’s crew, their pizza is second to none and absolutely delicious! Buy by the slice or buy by the pie, and starting Monday, May 15 they are open 7 days a week — just in time for their 6 month downtown anniversary.

“We are family-owned, a husband and wife team that love what we do and want each customer to enjoy their experience when visiting our pizza shop. We make some of the best pie in the panhandle. Our dough and sauce are made in house and we use top quality ingredients to match the skills of our pizzaiola (pizza making crew).” — Vanessa & Nick Burleigh.

Thank you Nick, Vanessa and Papa’s for your hospitality and phenomenal pizza — you’ve stolen a pizz-a our hearts!

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Elli Gentile is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, but Pensacola has always had her heart. She is happiest whilst near the sea and a wanderlust at heart. Elli graduated with a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri — Columbia (MIZZOU) in 2011 and finds joy in not only sharing the stories of others, but sharing her own stories of traveling, conquering cancer and her lust for life. Follow her fun on Instagram @elligentile.