Piencone, a new restaurant and pub, opened its doors at 1958 Colorado Blvd. April 4. Named for its two specialties, pizza pies and ice cream cones, Piencone is a 6,000-square-foot eatery that features a large wood-fired oven, 140-guest seating capacity, outdoor patio and play area. Piencone is owned by Michelle Wilton, her husband Corey Wilton and Herb Gualpa. Michelle and Corey Wilton are familiar to the Eagle Rock restaurant scene and opened Four Cafe a few blocks away at 2122 Colorado Blvd. in 2009. Piencone is on the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Shearin Avenue at the former location of The Coffee Table, a coffee and breakfast shop that closed its doors after 20 years last November.
Michelle Wilton, who is also the executive chef of both Piencone and Four Cafe, said that Piencone is the realization of her culinary passions.
“I’ve wanted to open an ice cream shop for the past several years now. It’s always been a passion of mine,” Michelle Wilton said.
Michelle Wilton, who has two young children, said that her dining experiences as a parent also helped shape her plans for Piencone’s family-friendly atmosphere and outdoor play area.
“How dreamy is it to go somewhere [my kids] can play when they are done with dinner?” Michelle Wilton said. “I can leisurely finish my dinner without having to rush out of there because they’re done eating and they’re ready to go.”
Apart from the play area, Piencone distinguishes itself from other pizzerias and creameries through its cooking and preparation methods. According to Michelle Wilton, Piencone is the only wood-fired pizza restaurant in the area and she uses a unique fermented sourdough crust in her pizzas. She also said that Piencone’s ice cream base is made entirely from scratch, which is uncommon in restaurants due to special dairy licensing that is costly to acquire.
Piencone has an attached bar called Pub 1954 that opened the same day as the restaurant. Gualpa, a former teacher from Echo Park, manages the bar. Gualpa said that while he, Corey Wilton and Michelle Wilton are all equal owners of Piencone, they split their talents across the different sections of the restaurant. In addition to managing the pub, Gualpa was also responsible for designing its interior, which is a separate room attached to the main Piencone restaurant.
“We worked really hard for three months,” Gualpa said. “We really wanted to start over with this place and make something new, something different.”
Gualpa said that he is proud of how the interior of the bar turned out. Gualpa also added that much of the work in constructing the pub involved local craftspeople and artisans. Highland Park woodworkers constructed the pub’s booths, walnut bar and interior wood paneling.
“A lot of this stuff was made by local people, small business wanting to help us out,” Gualpa said. “I wanted it to be a local bar and at the end of the night, it’s a community space.”
According to Gualpa, community feedback on Piencone has been generally positive, but there have been some negative comments, particularly from people who miss The Coffee Table.
“A lot of people do miss what used to be here and that’s very understandable,” Gualpa said. “I don’t want people to think that we kicked them out, because that’s not how it works.”
Shalini Pace ’15, who works two doors down from Piencone at an Italian restaurant called Posto Giusto, used to frequent The Coffee Table and said she was sad to see it go.
“It’s always exciting for a new place to open up, but it is sad because [The Coffee Table] was an Eagle Rock staple,” Pace said.
The Wiltons are also in the process of opening a new restaurant across the street from Four Cafe called Ember & Peel. According to Michelle Wilton, Ember & Peel was in the works before the three owners started on Piencone. Many of her ideas for Piencone, including wood-fired pizza and fresh ice cream, were going to be implemented at Ember & Peel.
Pace, who used to work at Four Cafe, said that she found it strange that Michelle Wilton wanted to open a pizza restaurant on Colorado Boulevard, which has several other Italian restaurants. Pace also said that she thought it was odd that the Four Cafe team was in the process of opening two new restaurants on Colorado Boulevard in such a short timeframe.
Gualpa said that the Piencone team prides itself on providing quality service and food to the Eagle Rock community.
“We are family friendly, we have really good food, really good beers on tap and really knowledgeable bartenders on staff who know their mixed drinks,” Gualpa said. “We’re about the community and we’re doing our best to stay true to what Eagle Rock is.”