Love at first bite

Arlo’s Ristorante adds Neapolitan pizza to the menu

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

Pizza might just be the perfect food: it’s delicious at any time of day or night, tastes great hot or cold, and is just as easy to eat on the go as it is sitting down in a pizza parlor with friends.

Nearly a year ago, Arlo’s Ristorante began the process of adding pizza to its authentic Italian menu. After installing a hybrid wood-fired oven, establishing a menu, holding a soft opening and tweaking the recipe a few times, owner Jesse Guscott is pleased with the outcome.

Guscott’s family started Arlo’s in 2001 and the eatery has been a staple for Italian cuisine in Sandpoint ever since.

“My dad always wanted to do pizza in our old place, but we didn’t really have space for it,” Guscott told the Reader. “When we moved into this new building, it was always in the back of our minds.”

Chef Andrew Miller, left; owner Jesse Guscott, center; and owner Lindsey Falciani, right, with a pepperoni burrata pizza in the foreground. Photo by Ben Olson.

The first step on the road to gourmet pizza was the purchase of a commercial Fiero Forni oven, built in Modena, Italy, and shipped to New York for finishing touches. The oven found a home in Arlo’s secondary kitchen — right next door to the main kitchen — and when chef Andrew Miller joined the crew prior to the pandemic, it became clear he would be the official pizza whisperer.

“We literally hired him before COVID and a month later we were shut down and only doing takeout,” Guscott said. “He’s really creative and talented in the kitchen and always had a bug in our ear about pizza. He’s wanted to own a pizzeria or pizza truck ever since he was a kid.”

Miller quickly got to work with Guscott designing a pizza menu. 

“Andrew’s food combinations are just awesome,” said Lindsey Falciani, Jesse’s finance, also an owner-operator at Arlos’s.

Because of the type of oven they purchased, Neapolitan-style pizza turned out to be the best for Arlo’s.

“Neapolitan is more Italian style, less American,” Miller said.

“It was never going to be a New York-style pizza in my mind,” Guscott said. “There’s no reason to cook a New York pie in this oven.”

New York-style pizza uses sugar and a heavier yeast and flour, as well as heavier toppings. Neapolitan pizza, on the other hand, features fewer ingredients and more closely resembles the original modern pizza, created in Naples, Italy. 

“The biggest difference is the type of flour you use and the types of ingredients,” Guscott said. “We use superfine ‘00’ flour and we ended up getting a good link on the best flour we could find from Naples. … We also use fresh yeast instead of dehydrated. We actually get blocks of yeast, salt and water.”

One of the defining characteristics of Arlo’s pizza is its crust, which has a soft, light texture. 

“Our crust takes three days to make,” Guscott said. “We batch ferment it for two days, and ahead of time we make a poolish, or pre-ferment, which kickstarts the yeast. When you add that to the dough, it really wants to start going. The dough sits for 48 hours minimum, and that’s when it starts to get that tang to it.”

Guscott said he and Miller tweaked the recipe for months, learning the best bake times in the oven and establishing mouth-watering recipes.

Currently, Arlo’s offers 11 types of pizza, and usually includes a nightly special as well. Each pie has a unique quality that sets Arlo’s apart from the rest. Even their pepperoni — arguably the workhorse of any pizza restaurant — has a distinctness to it, with two types of pepperoni that compliment one another well.

“We didn’t want a boring pepperoni pizza,” said Miller. “One person said they should lay flat, one said they should cup and char, so we said, ‘Why don’t we try both?’”

The pepperoni and burrata pizza adds garlic, fresh basil, hot honey and a fresh lump of burrata cheese. It started as a special, but Guscott said they were “bullied into putting it on the menu by our regulars.”

For those who love the heat, the Speziata Fiore is so spicy it comes with a caution to “be careful” on the menu.

“We really love spicy food and we wanted a kick-your-ass pizza on the menu,” Guscott said. 

The pie combines roasted serrano peppers and pickled habaneros — all prepared in-house — as well as prosciutto and mozzarella. While I wouldn’t recommend this item for those who can’t handle spice, I was pleasantly surprised with the level of heat. The habaneros hit on the tongue and lips, while the serranos add a nice hum underneath. Adding a ball of burrata cheese on top helps mitigate the heat.

“We have a lot of people who say we should tone it down on that one, but we tell them no,” Guscott said.

“That one is going to stay,” Miller agreed. “It’s all of our favorite pizza.”

Also available is a meatball ricotta pizza, with Arlo’s famous meatballs sliced flat atop the pizza with fresh ricotta, oregano and mozzarella. Chicken options include a pesto chicken with artichoke hearts, marinated tomatoes and mozzarella, while the garlic chicken pie features garlic cream, sautéed onions, marinated tomatoes and mozzarella.

Finally, there are veggie options, sausage and mushroom varieties and the famous Margherita, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, whose visit to Naples spurred that dish into being and, subsequently, launched the modern pizza we enjoy today.

Along with unique fermented dough and exciting varieties, Arlo’s pizzas are also constructed in a novel way.

“The way we build our pizza, we actually build them upside down,” Miller said. “Our cheese goes down first and we don’t shred it, but slice into pats. Then we add ingredients and then sauce. That allows the sauce to cook down into the ingredients.”

With the oven cooking at a blistering 700° Fahrenheit, it only takes a few minutes to fully cook a pizza at Arlo’s. 

Along with the pies, Arlo’s added a series of beer taps featuring Utara Brewing Co. beers, serviced by Utara owners Dave Kosiba and Christina Stecher.

Once the pizzas were dialed in, Falciani spearheaded transforming Arlo’s secondary dining room and kitchen into a clean, warm and comfortable place.

“Lindsey did everything in here,” Guscott said. “She did the walls, the floors and worked with the company to help design the oven.”

“I went to school for art and it was a creative outlet for me,” Falciani said. “It turned out how I envisioned it.”

Guscott said the addition of pizza to the menu makes him feel closer to his father, Tom, who founded Arlo’s and passed away at the end of 2018. Guscott and Falciani took over managing the family business after that.

“It makes me think about my dad a lot,” Guscott said. “When I see bowls of pasta and pizza in the dining room, it just feels right having pizza on the menu. It feels like it should’ve been that way all along. He would’ve loved it.” 

To learn more about Arlo’s pizza and the rest of the menu, visit or, better yet, stop by the dining room at 124 S. Second Ave. and have a pizza.

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