Charlie Tyrell has a simple technique for creating his pizza recipes.
“I just kept trying stuff until it was what I remembered growing up in New York,” he said. “You eat pizza once a week when you’re growing up in New York.”
Tyrell now sells his pizzas, along with calzones, Stromboli and salads, at Charlie T’s Pizzeria, the restaurant he opened about a month ago in downtown Casper. He used the pizzerias of his youth for inspiration, right down to the checkered floor and the red and green walls.
The pizzas are also made New York style.
“It’s in the taste of the pie,” he said. “It’s the thin crust, cheese that stretches and [dripping] olive oil on your arm or wrist.”
Tyrell opened earlier incarnations of Charlie T’s in Hulett and at Casper/Natrona County International Airport. This spring, he lost his lease in Hulett and his job as a first officer for Wyoming Life Flight. When he learned the Sandwich Bar was moving locations, he closed his airport restaurant and moved the pizzeria to the vacant location on East Second Street.
He remodeled the space in 13 days, more than doubling the available seating in the process.
“And on the 14th day, we made pizza,” Tyrell joked.
He sells pies that you’d have a tough time finding elsewhere in Casper. Along with the traditional fare, Charlie T’s offers a spinach Alfredo pizza, and one topped with horseradish sauce, green onions and thin-sliced potatoes.
Perhaps his most offbeat pizza is the Bye, Bye American Pie, which is made with hot dogs, baked beans, mustard and cheese. Tyrell came up with the idea when he wanted hot dogs and beans one Independence Day weekend, but discovered his grocery store was out of buns. He decided to use a pizza crust instead.
“It’s worth having on the menu,” he said. “The more fun the menu, the better.”
Tyrell jokes about having the smallest commercial kitchen in the state. His staff uses a single oven and cooks only personal-sized pizzas.
So far, customer response has been overwhelming, according to Tyrell. Diners have been filling the restaurant for lunch, enough so that he just expanded his hours to include dinner Wednesday through Saturday.
“It’s a successful business when I have a dining room full of satisfied customers,” he said. “It’s that simple. Obviously, I’m here to make money and it is going to do well financially. But this is what puts a smile on my face. It’s fun to see.”