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Inside Pizza Grace, Birmingham’s pizza joint honored by James Beard Awards

By Laura Laughead,


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ( WIAT ) — Whether by fork or by finger, some of the nation’s best pizza pies are now up for grabs at local pizza joint Pizza Grace, according to the “Oscars” of the food world.

Last week, Pizza Grace was named as a semifinalist for “Best New Restaurant” at the 2023 James Beard Awards. The restaurant has only been open for a little over a year, but their business has boomed faster than you can say “that’s amore.”

“Pizza is something that we have grown up eating and falling in love with … This honor is everything to us. It came as a surprise, we didn’t know it was coming, but we are just thrilled,” said Helene Jones, who co-owns Pizza Grace with her husband Ryan Westover.

Westover, who has a background in baking and pastries, also acts as a chef.

A few years ago, the couple was trying to start a business in Washington D.C. but hit some roadblocks. Then, opportunity arrived in a place they never expected — Alabama.

“We are really lucky to be here with other great restaurants and bars and farmers and providers, and so we hope that it just also brings a spotlight on the other people who are here who are doing really great work as well,” Jones said.

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After the awards announcement, the customers came running, including Rhonda Hardwick who tried some of their healthier options.

“The salad was the most incredible salad I’ve ever had in my life, ever, hands down … It’s great to see Birmingham come alive,” Hardwick said.

Tim and Nancy Carlisle drove in from Smith Lake to try a slice.

“We think it is awesome. We know that Birmingham has had other Beard Award-winning restaurants, and we’re glad to try this one out,” Tim Carlisle said.

Out of all this, Jones said they just want to make the Magic City proud, and she revealed the secret to good pizza is actually in the sourdough crust.

“[Our pizza] all starts with a starter that’s about 19-years-old. We make small batches every single day for the next day,” Jones said.

Pizza Grace is open Tuesday through Saturday, but they sell out fast. Now, the restaurant will see if they advance to the finals for the 2023 James Beard Awards.

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