Driving past Angelo’s Family Pizza and Pasta on the weekly commute, a countdown to pumpkin cheesecake was constantly in view.
Being a lover of all things pumpkin, I eventually had to investigate further; and oh my gourd I am happy I did.
After taking the first bite, it was challenging to not ask for the recipe, but it is a secret to the few who help craft each new flavor.
Crystal Hansen and Shawn McCoy have taken the restaurant over from Hansen’s parents, who had the restaurant for the past 24 years.
The new owners of Angelo’s Family Pizza and Pasta are bringing in local, farm-fresh ingredients to what has been an establishment in Haywood County for 45 years.
“We don’t overdo it, nothing too fancy, we just make it fresh,” said McCoy.
For the past four years, Hansen and McCoy have worked to transform the soups, pizza ingredients and cheesecake recipes.
“People ask me more about the cheesecake than they do the pizza,” said McCoy.
With the introduction of the pumpkin cheesecake three years ago, customers started to come into the Italian restaurant just to order the seasonal dessert with a coffee.
Now, the flavors of cheesecake are always changing and range anywhere from caramel apple to Lucky Charms.
The recipe is not like a traditional New York cheesecake, but is a light, fluffier variety that McCoy has crafted with an original, secret Italian mixture.
The light airiness of the cheesecake was a standout quality when taking the first bite. Unlike most autumnal dishes boasting pumpkin as a main ingredient, the pumpkin in the cheesecake at Angelo’s was not overwhelming.
The flavor is definitely there and was actually pumpkin — not the caramel mixed with pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg concoction most would expect from a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
A thin crust with hints of cinnamon flavor made the base for the pumpkin cheesecake, which could’ve tied it all together perfectly, until the freshly made nutmeg and cinnamon laced cloud of perfection nestled beside the cheesecake hits your mouth.
Angelo’s is worth the trip just to get a taste of the whipped cream.
While McCoy was not trained to make cheesecakes on his journey as a chef, his resume’ in the culinary world is enough to make any crazed foodie head over to check out the changing menu items he and Hansen are bringing to Haywood County.
McCoy started as a cook for Maxine’s, which originally occupied the building that Angelo’s is currently in before Hansens’ family bought it 16 years ago. Keeping most of the employees from Maxine’s, this is where Hansen and McCoy’s culinary journey began.
After two years of working for Hansen’s family, McCoy moved to Tennessee to attend culinary school at Walter State Community College.
“After being asked to cook a meal for the Dean of the culinary program and the head of the culinary department, they presented me with a full ride scholarship,” said McCoy. “They surprised me.”
After graduating the culinary program, McCoy was offered a job in Norway as a private chef by a family he met through the culinary program. He spent two summers in Norway before bringing his talent back to Haywood County, where he became the executive chef at The Swag.
“I really explored my culinary experience there,” said McCoy
Before returning to where it all began, he spent six years working for a separate Italian restaurant.
McCoy now serves as the co-owner of Angelo’s Family Pizza and Pasta.While the classic Angelo’s favorites are still on the menu, Hansen and McCoy are bringing a fresh new take to the 45-year-old establishment.
“We have always been known for our garlic balls and pizza,” said Hansen.
“Now, we have people that just come in for the soup and the cheesecake has pushed itself. It’s just fresh,” added McCoy.
While pumpkin is the best seller, McCoy favors the caramel apple cheesecake, which is made with fresh apples from Christopher Farms, topped with a caramel sauce drizzle.
Angelo’s has been a staple in Haywood County for decades, but be sure to check out the new farm-to-table flavors Mccoy and Hansen are dishing out in 2019.