DENVER – Joel Broder did not have a slice of pizza until he was 12 years old.
Although he lived in Brooklyn, a known pizza mecca, he thought it looked disgusting. Once he finally had a taste, he ending up eating six slices. Broder knew at that moment he wanted to own a pizza place. And a Jeep. In the last month, both dreams have come true.
Joel and Cessie Broder grew up together in Brooklyn and lived in and around the area as they raised their son and three daughters.
Eventually the son, Ian, and a daughter, Michelle Pier, moved to Charlotte. Joel and Cessie Broder soon followed.
The family all settled around the Mountain Island area with Joe and Cessie Broder moving in with Pier and her family.
“My dad was recovering from cancer and we were glad to have him with us,” Pier said.
Ian Broder often ate at Brooklyn Brothers Pizza in Denver to get a fix of New York-style pizza. He often brought the entire extended family to dine.
When he heard the place was up for sale, he knew he could help make his father’s dream come true. So in April of this year, he bought it with his sister and father.
After tossing around names for weeks, the three partners had an “ah-ha” moment. Of course they should name it after the person who is the sun and the moon to the family: the mother Cessie.
The trademark of excellent New-York style pizza is the crispy, thin crust. Ian Broder took the original Brooklyn Brothers recipe and tweaked the dough and the sauce to create an even more authentic taste. The result is a perfect slice of pie with a crunch of crust and a bite of high-quality cheese.
“It’s so hard to find authentic New York-style pizza here that we had to buy the only place that even came close!” Ian Broder said laughing.
But customers may find themselves in a quandary: to order the pizza or an Italian specialty?
After all, there is Penne alla Vodka, which is sublime with a flawless blend of garlic, cream and tomato sauce. Or the Chicken Parmigiana, which is delicately fried and then smothered in sauce and cheese.
The Broder family wisely kept 99 percent of the staff from Brooklyn Brothers, which created a seamless transition without any of the chaos usually associated with a new restaurant. Ian Broder considers the staff and the people who eat at the restaurant a close knit group.
“We don’t have customers, we have guests and family,” Ian Broder said.
It hasn’t all been a walk in the park for the family, however. Pier, who formerly worked as a surgical assistant, said she was stunned at the amount of work.
“But the good thing it that it is fun work, so I don’t mind it at all,” she said. “I just love being around people and interacting with the customers.”
The guests are really enjoying the changes to the restaurant.
Rich Milanese and his wife, Christine, have eaten at the restaurant several times.
“It is great Italian food,” Rich Milanese said. “And being from New York, I ought to know.”
He went on to rave about the Eggplant Parmigiana and Sausage and Peppers.
Joel and Cessie Broder sit quietly for a minute surveying the busy restaurant.
“You know, we’ve been married for 48 years,” Joel Broder said. “She’s the only one who would put up with me for that long.”
Cessie smiles gently at him as he tears up.
“It’s overwhelming for him,” she said. “His dreams are coming true. The restaurant is open and we bought him the Jeep last week!”
Joel puts his arms around Cessie and gives her a little squeeze. A huge fragrant pizza swoops by on its way to some hungry customers. Joel Broder gives a large smile.
“And the best is yet to come,” he said.
7925 Natalie Commons Drive, Denver