As a pizza geek whose tastes have been formed (I will not say snobbified) from past years living in New York City’s Queens borough and many visits to Italy, I have a high standard for pizza. Allow me to assure you that the fine pie at Legacy Pizza & Bakery fully meets that standard. So did an excellent sub sandwich and a couple of tasty cannoli and homemade cookies.
Everything made in Legacy’s New Albany shop is handmade from quality ingredients, and it shows. Hard work and dedication have marked the journey for chef-owner Rich Doering and his wife, Marcy. After starting his first job at the iconic Jim & Nena’s Pizzeria in his home town of York, Pennsylvania, Rich spent years working in many restaurants, helping open Noosh Nosh and Ramsi’s. They opened Legacy last spring just as the global pandemic landed.
“We signed the lease on March 8, and never expected things to take such a sudden turn,” he said. “We were trapped, but what else are we going to do? Everything else was closing and there we were dropping off all our permit applications.”
But open they did, in an imposing old red-brick and stone building that long housed New Albany’s Williams Bakery and, more recently, Level Up Bakery. The building also housed a cafeteria some time in the past, and Doering is quite sure that a friendly ghost is still hanging around from those days, occasionally filling the space at night with the mysterious, delicious scents of roast beef and pasta.
They chose the name “Legacy,” Doering says, because he hopes the restaurant will be a legacy for their children. It’s also for the people in the restaurant world who came before him and showed him the way.
In addition to the pizzeria, the Doerings operate a commercial bakery in the space, baking breads for their restaurant and for wholesale distribution to local eateries.
Legacy offers a good selection of pizzas, stromboli and calzones, sub sandwiches and sweets. A half-dozen starters make good use of Legacy’s breads. They are priced from $5 (for seasoned breadsticks, spicy sausage-onion rolls or pepperoni rolls) to $7 (for bruschetta). Large house and Caesar salads are $7; a chef salad with three meats is $10. Five sandwiches include three subs ($5 or $6 for small, $10 to $12 for large), a brioche sandwich with choice of meat is $6, and a seasonally-available portion of spaghetti squash with sauce and cheese is $8.
A 10-inch calzone is $6, while a stromboli — the chef’s specialty — is $10 for a regular-size roll or $18 for a giant model. The pretzel roll, built with meat and cheese, is $12 for a 14-incher.
Premium pizzas with chef’s choice of toppings are $14 for small, $20 for large. Or build your own for $7 plus $1 per topping for a 12-inch pie or $12 plus $1.50 per topping for a 16-inch model. They’re hand-tossed with the chef’s aged dough and cooked on a 500-degree ceramic deck.
To top it all off, there’s a good selection of homemade desserts including cookies and brownies ($1.50-$2), tarts ($4), giant cinnamon rolls ($5) and more. A sweets sampler is only $6, and hard to resist.
Curbside delivery is well organized, with a clearly-marked space to pull in and park on Beeler Street, just around the corner from Vincennes Avenue. We phoned in our order, rolled up right on time and got cordial service from co-owner Marcy, who finally found herself an umbrella after getting drenched in a cold rainstorm.
A veggie pizza ($11 small, $18 large) was excellent, especially after a quick toaster-oven bake to re-crisp the crust. Properly thin coatings of textured, gently spicy tomato sauce and melted mozzarella made a base for tender artichoke hearts, thin-sliced mushrooms, chopped onions and green bell peppers, and roasted red and yellow cherry tomatoes.
The Italian sub sandwich is $6 for a small sub, $12 for large. We ordered small and got a crisp-crusted, warm torpedo-shape roll so long that we thought they might have given us a large one. It’s filled with a meat-lover’s selection of ham, capicola and salami plus provolone cheese, run under the broiler until the cheese melts, then finished with a lettuce-tomato dressing, two big pickle slices and a gentle bath of herbal Italian dressing. All the flavors popped in a really excellent sub.
The sweets sampler offers all manner of goodies for $6. We picked two cannoli (one standard, one green-tinted New Year’s Eve model) and two oversize cookies. They were all exceptional. The cannoli were the real deal, crisp fried pastry rolled around a sweet ricotta filling. One was flavored with bits of orange citron, with tiny chocolate chips embedded in the ends of the cheese; the New Year’s model was topped with a chocolate design, with chocolate bits in the cheese and a greenish wash of crème de menthe on the ends. Thick, chewy chocolate butterscotch and oatmeal fruit cookies were both exceptional.
A fine meal for two totaled just $24.61, plus a $7 tip.
Legacy Pizza & Bakery
1001 Vincennes Street, Suite 100
New Albany, Ind.