Forget fro-yo. The next food craze on King Street is going to be pizza balls.
Pizza. Balls. Say it out loud. It's fun.
Pace's Pizza Balls were conceived in Reno, Nev., by Dwight Pace, who based them on his memory of eating pepperoni balls as a kid in Erie, Pa. His nostalgia for them inspired Pace to experiment with his own balls, finally perfecting the recipe and opening his first location in 2009.
The Charleston spot is the beginning of what Pace and Tom McBride hope is a national expansion. McBride stumbled upon Pizza Balls on a trip out west and struck up a dialogue with Pace. Soon the two were plotting a course for franchising.
McBride, a Jersey native, says he was also considering Madison, Wis. and New York, markets that can reach the ultimate combination of demographics: college students, hungry tourists, and downtown business lunchers. Ultimately, Charleston won out. McBride says it's like New York-light, with lower rents and smaller risks.
Pace's Pizza Balls is slated to open sometime in December, if all permitting goes as planned. McBride is hard at work upgrading 363 King St., the former home of Pop's Pizza, stripping the walls down to the brick, adding a new bathroom, and installing wood floors. It sounds like quite an upgrade.
McBride aims for the new restaurant to have a vibe somewhere between Five Guys and Kickin' Chicken. It's not going to be a bar, but he is going to make it comfortable enough for people to have something to eat and stick around and watch a football game.
As for the pizza balls, they are pretty much self-explanatory. A sphere of dough comes stuffed with your typical pizza toppings. The menu has Meat Balls with classic ingredients like pepperoni, sausage, and ground beef. Then there's Foul Balls stuffed with... wait for it ... chicken and poultry. On the Odd Balls part of the menu you'll find the Ball Hog, which is stuffed with pulled pork. The balls are lightly browned in the fryer and served up fresh. You can also opt for the same ingredients in a wrap or salad.