Pizza is a crowd-pleaser, but for one local business owner, it's pride in the region of Italy where his ancestors are from. He's spent time learning how to make the traditional creations and serve them up right here in Erie.

Pizza is a passion for Jason Spore. He's been using homemade recipes since college.

"Went home after standing next to her for a couple of years and realized I really loved the process," said Jason. 

He's talking about his mom, Kathy. Those years in the kitchen have led him to the Flagship City Food Hall in downtown Erie. His business is the first one seen when you walk in, off State Street.

Ippa Pizza Napoletana. Its unique name comes from Jason's son, Colby. Jason's now six-year-old son, who called pizza "Ippa" when he was first starting to talk.

Days before young Colby was born, Jason purchased the former George's Diner in Erie. He later opened the Ippa Pizza truck on-site, perfecting his pizza pies.

"From there, I decided if we're really gonna make a shot at developing a brand, we better get inside as fast as possible," said Jason. 

The business moved into the former "Perry's Pizza" in January 2024. A dedicated staff helps him serve the public seven days a week.

The menu here at Ippa Pizza is simply: pizza. Homemade pizza at that. You can sit at the bar, you can have a drink, and in just about a month, you can add some dessert to that too, because gelato is coming in the back. 

There will be an area for Italian Ice, and it will also be used to showcase other creations, like making fresh mozzarella. Erie News Now had a chance to capture the hand-stretched cheese, and taste it warm. Just like it would be on some of the pizzas coming out of the oven.

There's a scaled-down offering right now: a marinara, Margarita, and white pizza. Plus, what's called the "Pep Squared" - four kinds of pepperoni with the customer picking two types - and a specialized cheese pizza called the "Hot Louie."

"I love being here, it's an opportunity to be around a whole bunch of different business owners," said Jason. 

Quite a difference from his quaint, Erie take-and-bake pizza business, featured in this same segment more than 10 years ago. But still the same pride in producing the pizza.

Jason says he also plans to add several appetizers to the menu soon. "Ippa" can also be used for catering lunches. When the weather gets even warmer, the food truck will be back in operation during lunchtime too.