Building the valley: opening a pizzeria in Leechburg, a dream come true for the Gilpin couple

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Steve and Jamie Senjan from Gilpin have always wanted to open a pizzeria.

After five years of research, recipe testing and planning, their dream has come true.

The couple, who have been married for 16 years, recently opened Leechburg Pizza Co. in Leechburg. The independent family restaurant at 101 Market St. serves homemade pizzas and hot hoagies for lunch and dinner.

Since opening on July 25, the couple said business has exceeded expectations. They are still looking for a few more employees to complement the current staff of 16.

Tammy Gamble from Leechburg works in the kitchen alongside her daughter, Kristin.

“I love working here. It’s fast,” Tammy Gamble said. “The day passes quickly and it smells good.”

Staffing has been a bit difficult, said Steve Senjan, 41. “We are now looking for an evening manager. We’ve been here every night since we opened, so we (hope) we can get a night off every once in a while,” he said.

The couple said they were delighted with the overwhelming support from the community.

“There was no way we could have predicted the number of people we were serving,” said Jamie Senjan, 42. “We sell nearly 100 Italian hoagies a day.”

Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

The newly opened Leechburg Pizza Co. seats approximately 40 people.

Business was so booming during opening week that the couple had to close on Saturday after selling the product on Friday. “We had over 150 tickets that night,” Jamie Senjan said.

“People just want a homemade pizzeria,” her husband said. “Everyone is a bit sick of chain store pizza.”

The couple spent years making and tweaking their homemade sauce and dough in their home kitchen and asked friends to taste and give their thoughts.

They let the dough ferment for two days before being used for pizzas.

“We can control the quality and we know what’s going on in the dough. The yeast has to work and it tastes better. It climbs better after two days,” said Steve Senjan.

With no Italian heritage between them, the Senjans’ restaurant is a dream come true for the couple who still work day jobs.

Jamie works locally as a dental assistant and Steve owns Senjan Machine Inc. in Leechburg.

“A lot of parties and a lot of juggling,” Steve Senjan said of their time management. “We sleep about four hours a night.”

The pies are baked on stone in an industrial oven.

“Everyone seems happy with the pizzas. Ninety percent of the feedback was good. We’ve had issues with deliveries or wait times, but overall people seem really happy with the recipes,” said Steve Senjan.

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Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Homemade pepperoni pizza awaits at the new Leechburg Pizza Co. in Leechburg.

Possibility of on-site catering, take-out and delivery. The dining room can accommodate about 40 people.

The pepperoni slices they use are small and crispy and curl up, just burning a little on the edges. “A lot of people say it’s their favorite type of pepperoni,” Steve Senjan said.

Pizza prices range from $3.25 a slice to $16 for a large whole pie.

A variety of additional toppings – such as anchovies, bell pepper rings, and ham – are available and range from $0.50 to $2.75 per topping.

Delivery areas served include Gilpin, Allegheny Township, West Leechburg, Bethel Township (Dime Road area), Parks Township (Airport Road area) and Leechburg. A $3.25 fee is applied to each delivery order.

Gluten-free pizzas are offered, although these crusts are pre-made.

Specialty pizzas include Seafood, BBQ Chicken, Italian Hoagie, Buffalo Chicken and White. Pizza prices range from $11.75 to $23 for specialty pizzas.

The Senjans are hoping to add a few more specialty hoagies. The best-selling hoagie right now is the oversized hot Italian hoagie, made with bread from Breadworks and served with capicola, Genoa salami, ham and provolone cheese.

“We don’t skimp here,” Jamie Senjan said of the food.

Leechburg Pizza Co. is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Joyce Hanz is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .



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