David Pierce wants you to enjoy the pizza and other Italian dishes at the newly opened Iron Gate Pizzeria in downtown Dalton.

But he also wants you to enjoy the “show.”

“A pizzeria is not like a normal restaurant,” said Pierce, a Dalton native who co-owns the restaurant with his father, Lamar. “It’s more of a show than anything else. I have a very open kitchen because I want people to see us throwing dough back there, I want them to see the pizza coming in and going out.”

The Iron Gate Pizzeria on Hamilton Street opened this week, offering dishes cooked in a wood fired oven including pizza (both whole and by the slice), calzones and Italian entrees, such as chicken parmesan and meatballs. The non-smoking restaurant also serves sandwiches, salads, beer and wine.

The 30-year-old Pierce and his father had been considering going into business together when they visited a pizzeria in north Florida called Arte more than a year ago.

“We just kind of stumbled onto a pizzeria in Fernandina Beach, Fla., that does pretty much the same recipes as I do,” Pierce said. “I got to go down there and work, learn how to do it.”

At Arte, Pierce was trained by a native of Naples, Italy.

He also met his current kitchen manager, Daniel Barrow. After learning the craft of making hand-tossed pizzas, Pierce and his father set out to open their own restaurant in Dalton. The process took less than a year from concept to opening.

They envisioned a “good old fashioned pizzeria” that was both kid- and family-friendly. He also thinks the restaurant is filling a niche because of the absence of a locally owned, non-chain pizza restaurant in Whitfield County.

“That was one of the reasons we wanted to get in and get started as quickly as we could,” Pierce said. “If we can get this thing going and be downtown, it’s impossible not to be successful. We’re trying to do something different that people will enjoy.”

He believes that the city of Dalton’s Streetscape beautification project has begun luring more restaurants downtown and in turn helping to create an entertainment district.

“I think we’re making real big progress on that,” Pierce said. “There is going to be some good stuff opening on this side of the street, then of course you have the new blues place (Blues Train Cafe) that’s a lot of fun. That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Being downtown was important because of several new restaurants that have opened there recently, Pierce said.

“Being that I’m from this town and grew up here, there are limited things that you can do around here,” Pierce said. “Downtown really needs to be a place where on Friday and Saturday nights you can park your car for free, just walk here a grab a slice of pizza, then go over to The Depot and have a beer and enjoy downtown. You can do that instead of having to drive from place to place.”

The Iron Gate Pizzeria has a lunch and dinner menu.

The lunch menu features a salad of the day and a calzone of the day.

One of Pierce’s favorite salads, called the Harvest, also happens to be his own recipe: mixed greens with hearts of palm, corn, tomato and avocado, then tossed with a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. Among entrees, he counts the sausage and peppers as one of his favorites.

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