Not for nothing is Christo’s Famous Pizza in North Adams the official pizza of the Greylock Glass. We’ve been frequenting the Holden Street pie parlor since it was owned by Mary Giannaris, and have loved supporting the locally owned establishment. Now that Duncan Russell has assumed ownership of the business and the menu, things have only gotten better. While the pizza flavors and textures are very similar, Russell has introduced a few changes that zap our old favorite with a fresh taste.
Vegans take note: the marina sauce is now vegan!
When you add the fact that the product is served up with such deliciousness with absolute consistency, you can see why we designate Christo’s as the Best Pizza in the Berkshires.
But, despite this opening ode to pizza, this article was prompted by a brand NEW entry to Christo’s offerings:
I’ll admit. I’m kind of a falafel snob. After a number of local disappointments, I tend not to bother even trying around the Berkshires anymore. I mean, I can make it myself, so…
But, seeing this new entry on the menu, I sensed Duncan and his dad, Jim — who was running the kitchen when I stopped in, would not let me down. I was correct.
I was there for lunch, so I went for the Falafel on a Pita — known widely as a Gyro with Fries for $9.95 (WELL within our criteria of under $15 for Unsung Eats!).
Let’s get right to the heart of the sandwich and talk about the falafel itself. This chickpea down-home delicacy is so easy to make, but it’s so often a tragedy in other places. What I loved:
- It was NOT greasy — biggest turnoff for me.
- It was fluffy and light on the inside, BUT
- had the perfect amount of crisp in the exterior
- had the right mix of mint, parsley, and seasoning.
I tend to like it a little saltier, but that’s solved easily enough on a case by case basis.
Cushioning the falafel’s pita bed was a generous helping of red onions and lettuce, drizzled with Tzatziki sauce and feta cheese. Not into dairy? Ask Christo’s to nix the feta and sub the Tzatziki sauce (typically strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and herbs) with Tahini — a zesty condiment usually made from toasted ground hulled sesame, often with garlic, lemon and spices.
Russell takes no credit for the pita bread (that’s delivered), but I do have to note that some brands just don’t hold up as a gyro, so we’re just fortunate that such a hearty meal stays perfectly contained and wrapped tight.
All in all, while I’m never going to stop being a pizza junkie, I am THRILLED to have a new go-to option for lunch (or dinner!) that adds variety to my diet without having to seek out a new spot.
NTRVW: Duncan Russell
The Greylock Glass: So, for those readers who didn’t catch this info the first time around, tell us, what prompted you to take over Christo’s Famous Pizza.
Duncan Russell: I’ve worked in hospitality my entire life. And, you know, I was most recently in Boston working for a start-up pizza company. And this just seemed as though it was the next step in my culinary and hospitality journey.
The Greylock Glass: So, you kind of lucked out finding this location right about when the previous owner was ready to retire.
Duncan Russell: That’s correct as well. Yeah. So I was I was visiting family, my father actually, in the area, and we met with the previous owner and she informed me that the business was for sale, knew that I had a restaurant and hospitality experience, and we kind of got the ball rolling from there.
The Greylock Glass: What menu items have you carried over that have continued to do well?
Duncan Russell: For example, the baklava, the house dressing as well, the marinara sauce. And we’ve made it vegan instead. But other than that, the pizza sauce is the same as well. So yeah, and we’ve tried to keep consistency. The main factor I didn’t want to break the wheel when taking over this business.
The Greylock Glass: A year into it now, what’s your takeaway? What’s the experience been like.
Duncan Russell: It’s been a great experience. And more and more I’m actually enjoying and learning to love this community even more-so. You know, this this area has fantastic potential and there’s so many beautiful surroundings. There are wonderful people in this town. And honestly, I’ve enjoyed a lot of taking part in this business.
The Greylock Glass: Any surprises?
Duncan Russell: Nope. Not particularly like earth shattering. You know, having years of experience in industry kind of helped out to make sure that I was more prepared than than being up for the plethora of surprises that could be thrown in at any time.
The Greylock Glass: A lot people get into the restaurant business thinking “how hard could it be?” They don’t always understand that as busy as things are out in the dining room, things can be even busier on the business office side.
Duncan Russell: That’s exactly it. You know, luckily, as I said, I was not blinded by that. And yeah, you’re correct 100%. So many people go into the restaurant industry or buy a restaurant under the guise or the hope that they think that it’s going to be easy. I’m in here constantly, you know, and I realize that, I know that, I have to put in the time to make it worthwhile, whether it be on admin, whether it be in the kitchen itself. I know that my my work is responding to returns. And a lot of people don’t understand that relationship, especially in industry or that are coming in that have very little restaurant experience and think that they’re going to buy a restaurant and it’s instantly going to be profitable or have amazing revenue and returns. That’s usually not the case.