Food for Thought

A Mother of a Pizza!

This downtown Provo pizzeria serves up value and good taste.
By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Claire Parrish

I felt ashamed as I slinked into Mother’s Pizza to do this interview. Even though I am from Chicago, the “Second City” of pizza, a lifetime pizza connoisseur and work from an office just across the street, I had never sampled a slice of Mother’s Pizza in the nearly two years since they had opened. Blame it on a touch of disdain: rarely do island pizzas compare to those of my hometown haven . . . or so I thought.

I started to get excited as I approached the small building tucked in a corner of Times Square in downtown Providenciales. The smells wafting through the door from the large pizza ovens were making my mouth water with tasty memories. The utilitarian ordering counter, chalkboard menu and tall table with stools for dining right away while the pizza is hot! were a mirror image of the pizzerias of my childhood, as was the open kitchen where I could see fresh pizzas being made for lunch at a furious rate.

A hot, juicy slice of Mother's Pizza

A hot, juicy slice of Mother's Pizza

My pizza snobbery didn’t last past the first bite of my hot-out-of-the oven slice. The crust was just the right balance between tender and chewy, without that horrible crunch of an ultra-thin cracker masquerading as pizza dough. The sauce was thick and infused with flavor, an excellent complement to the cornucopia of pepperoni, sausage, ham, peppers, onions and mushrooms on the “combination” slice. Generous amounts of perfectly melted mozzarella buffered sauce and toppings, and I couldn’t stop smiling in my nostalgic haze. It was like finding a long-lost treasure . . . and Mother’s Pizza just made a new convert!

Manager Jesse Wachter makes a pizza.

Manager Jesse Wachter makes a pizza.

Jesse Wachter is Mother’s “bossman”; his father Richard owns the Times Square complex and thought that putting in a pizzeria made sense. Although the family is from Canada, Jesse and his brother Tyson grew up in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and their appreciation for the country is an integral part of what makes Mother’s Pizza thrive. Jesse explains, “We wanted to cater to the local population with a healthy, high-quality product that we knew everyone would love. Our location in the heart of downtown makes it easy for residents to stop by and our reasonable prices let folks on a tight budget enjoy a satisfying meal.”
Pizza was a staple in the Wachter family and Jesse’s mother treasured a 100 year old Sicilian recipe for the dough which the eatery uses today — slightly modified for the humid climate. Believing that “you make a better product by using better ingredients,” Jesse says he selects the best flour (unbleached, unbromated), extra-virgin olive oil, imported mozzarella, Pomi tomatoes and a secret herb blend for the sauce to make sure the pizzas are consistently delicious. Then, everything is prepared by hand and made fresh daily.
Open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM (11 PM on weekends); 4 to 9 PM Sunday, Mother’s Pizza customers can choose from whole pies (the island’s largest at 18″ in diameter) made to order or slices from the large assortment of pre-made pizzas (served hot after a brief warm-up in the oven.) All the traditional toppings are available, including a Hawaiian ham/pineapple combo (something I’ve never been able to understand!). As well, Mother’s adds a Turks & Caicos twist: they serve conch pizza (bits of the chewy crustacean tenderized in a mandarin orange marinade) and their latest offering, lionfish pizza. Jesse explains the decision to feature such an unusual topping, “We feel it’s a win-win choice: healthy and eco-conscious at the same time. The invasive lionfish has the potential to severely damage the balance of TCI’s reef marine life. The Department of Environment & Coastal Resources has been looking for ways to develop a market for the meat, to encourage local fisherman to catch lionfish. We thought we’d step in and help.”
Jesse spends hours carefully cleaning and preparing the lionfish meat, including marinating it in lemon juice for flavor and texture. I tried a slice on a recent visit and it wasn’t bad for a non-traditional topping. The meat was tender and flavorful and blended well with the sauce and cheese. Justin Bates claims to eat slices every day: the lionfish is low in calories and high in protein, making it a dieter’s delight.
Being on a tight budget like everyone else these days, I especially appreciated Mother’s reasonable prices. A whole pie is only $20, slices are $3 and cold beverages only $1. But it gets even better! On Tuesdays, any slice of pizza is only $2.50 (all day) and you get $1 off any large pizza on Thursdays.
In a country where chicken wings are practically a staple food, Mother’s Pizza couldn’t help but add them to the menu (try an order free when you buy a large pizza any Sunday). Jesse says their wings are larger and juicier, with more variety, than those served elsewhere and a full pound is only $5. They offer BBQ, hot, sweet ‘n’ sour, teriyaki, Cajun spice and chipolte versions, all well-marinated for hearty flavor and served with a selection of dipping sauces on the side.
Mother’s Pizza is a fun place to savor your slices. The red and white checkered outdoor tables are one of the few places to sit down, catch a cool breeze and people-watch in downtown Providenciales, and the crowd can get quite lively on weekend nights. Of course, the carry-out trade is flourishing as well (we watched an order of six large pizzas walk out the door during a lunchtime visit) and slices are served on paper plates with wrappers to eat on the go. Mother’s recently started delivery to all hotels, condos, offices and schools in Providenciales with a minimum order of $25. Jesse says they also often package pizzas to go via boat or plane to North, Middle and South Caicos and Grand Turk.
Jesse is proud of the Mother’s regulars who rarely miss a day without stopping in, and plans to introduce a “customer’s appreciation card” for just those folks. Visitors, too, seem impressed. The walls are hung with pizza paddles and aluminum pans signed with visitors’ exclamations of delight, including one by the US Coast Guard, who make Mother’s Pizza a regular stop on their tour of duty.There’s also a wall of international currency, representing the dozens of nationalities who have visited the pizzeria.
I love the fact that Mother’s has a heart for the TCI. They regularly sponsor PIzza Nights for the kids from the Provo Children’s Home and Edward Gartland Youth Center. When neighboring Haiti endured the devastating earthquake in January, Mother’s donated over 150 pizzas for aid volunteers and refugees, along with hundreds of cookies and cases of water during the two months that aid flights were stopping off in TCI. Jesse says they even opened one morning at 4 AM to feed members of the Royal Canadian Air Force on a stop-over flight to Haiti. He adds, “We just couldn’t say no. Many of our customers had family and friends in the earthquake zone and we wanted to do what we could for them.”
Besides being a great and economical place to feed your family, Mother’s staff is like a family. Of his co-workers Charles Mathurin, Justin Bates, Marisela Caba and Lisa Remy, Jesse explains, “We all work together into making the place what it is — we watch each other’s backs. We’re all proud to make our shop a comfortable place where everyone feels welcome.”

Mother’s Pizza is located in Times Square in downtown Providenciales. For more information or to order pizzas, call 649 941 4142 or visit www.MothersPizza.tc.



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Hobbyist photographer and Assistant Director for Research & Development at the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources Dr. Eric F. Salamanca took this rare photo of a Bahama Woodstar hummingbird enjoying the nectar of Moringa flowers.

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