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New owners bring Sunset staple Ally’s Pizza to Clearfield

By Valerie Phillips - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 3, 2024
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Lydia and Wesley Steel own Ally’s Pizza, which moved from Sunset to Clearfield in February 2024.
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A pepperoni and mushroom pizza at Ally's Pizza.
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Lydia Steel’s "passion project" was to improve the salads at Ally’s Pizza in Clearfield.
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Al Ermatinger, founder of Ally’s Pizza, is flanked by current owners Wesley and Lydia Steel.

If you’re looking for Ally’s Pizza in Sunset, you can now find the 34-year-old pizzeria in Clearfield. Although it has a new home and new owners, the pizza is pretty much the same.

“We are lucky to take over such a successful operation,” said Wesley Steel, who operates Ally’s Pizza with his wife, Lydia Steel. “There would be a lot of anxiety if we were trying to open a new pizzeria. The barrier for opening any restaurant is quite high.”

Wesley is the nephew of Alex Ermatinger, who founded Ally’s Pizza in 1990, naming it for his newborn niece, Allison. He had worked at several different pizza chains before opening his own takeout-and-delivery pizzeria at 258 W. 1800 North in Sunset.

Ermatinger built a loyal fan base over the years. But when the Utah Department of Transportation announced a construction project to widen 1800 North in Sunset, it was inevitable that the Ally’s building would be demolished.

So Ermatinger hung up his apron in 2022.

“I knew I couldn’t start all over again,” said Ermatinger, now age 60.

Lydia Steel was the general manager of the Pizza Pie Café in Clinton. Wesley Steel had worked at Ally’s Pizza since 2016 and was preparing to go to physician assistant’s school.

“Al came to us and said, ‘I’m done. Do you want to take over? It’s you guys or it’s done,'” said Lydia Steel.

The pizzeria was always a big part of Wesley’s extended family. His parents, Curtis Steel and Maureen Ermatinger, met each other while working at Ally’s.

“Keeping it in the family was always important, but UDOT bought him out, and we needed to find a new spot,” Wesley said.

They found it at 1296 W. 300 North in Clearfield, the former location of the now-closed Rita’s Pizzeria.

“We bought the property and invested a bunch of time and money fixing it into what we wanted it to be,” said Lydia Steel. “It’s exciting. It fills a lot of purpose in carrying on a family business that has meant so much to our family, and customers.”

The duo ran the Sunset location until Jan. 31 of this year, and re-opened in the Clearfield site a week later, on Feb. 8.

Some people are unaware of the move — “We’ve gotten panicked calls from people who show up at the old place to pick up their pizza,” said Lydia Steel. But, the new location does twice as much business already, she said. That’s partly because of their new pizza oven’s larger capacity, and also because it has a sit-down dining area. The space is decorated with popular retro movie posters, such as “The Sandlot,” “Star Wars” and “The Goonies.”

They’ve kept the same recipes, aside from adding more wing flavors and dessert options.

“We believe in the product,” said Lydia Steel. “Al knew what he was doing when he started it. He has incredible dough and sauce recipes, and he’s always shredded his own cheese.”

The Steels began sourcing tomatoes from a California cannery that processes its tomatoes within two hours of picking, to give a fresher flavor to the sauces.

The pizza dough is hand-tossed after the order is placed, “to make sure everything is extremely fresh,” Lydia Steel said. “And we have a rotating stone deck oven, so every pizza sits directly on the stone and the bottom cooks better. You tend to infuse more flavor, so it’s more of an artisan outcome.”

Also, “We top our pizzas very full,” she added. “I tell our staff that every bite needs to include all the toppings.”

Wesley Steel’s favorite is the Big Island BBQ pizza — Canadian bacon, breakfast bacon, pineapple, and extra cheese.

He’s also a fan of the restaurant’s spicy marinara. It’s the classic sauce with three added ingredients for heat.

“We certainly sell more spicy sauce these days, and we sell a lot of hot wings,” Wesley Steel said.

Lydia Steel’s favorite pizza is Canadian bacon and pineapple on a thin crust.

“And I would eat our salads every day,” she said, adding, “This was my passion project to take over the salads. I wanted to make them pretty.”

They’re made with mixed spring greens, spinach, tomatoes, olives and mushrooms, topped with shredded mozzarella and croutons.

The pizzeria offers free delivery in the surrounding area.

When customers call the restaurant, they may get a recording advising them to place their order online.

“The most reliable way to reach us is NOT by phone,” Lydia Steel said. “We are trying to encourage people to order online.”


Ally’s Pizza

Location: 1296 W. 300 North, Clearfield

Contact: https://www.allys-pizza.com and 801-774-0077

Prices: $10-$25, depending on the pizza size and toppings. Classic family special, $19.

Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday.


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