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Buffalo-Style ‘Cup & Char’ Pepperoni Pizza, Wings Coming to Falls Church

A prototype of the kind of Buffalo, New York-style “cup-and-char” pepperoni pies Baddpizza will serve when it opens in Falls Church later this year. (Photo: Baddpizza)

Buffalo, New York native Joel Salamone isn’t a big fan of the pizza around this area. And that’s putting it mildly.

“I don’t like the pizza here, not at all,” he tells the News-Press.

And finding a place that serves both good pizza and good wings? Forget about it.

“It’s near impossible outside of Buffalo,” Salamone laments.

Fed up with the lack of options, the man, who hails from the city that invented the chicken wing as we know it today, is bringing his hometown specialty, along with Buffalo-style pizza, to the Little City when Baddpizza (stylized “baddpizza”) opens in the Broadale Village Shopping Center this November.

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Since moving to Northern Virginia in 1999, Salamone has long missed the pies he grew up eating in upstate New York where he says he and his family would order pizza-and-wing combos at least once a week.

“Here, my son will say ‘Let’s order pizza from Papa John’s’ and I’m like ‘No,’ ” he laughs.

And Salamone insists it’s not just hometown bias.

“Over the past 20 years,” he says, “I’ve rarely encountered someone who tells me the name of a restaurant that offers pizza they absolutely love.”

Even if he does find a passable option, Salamone says it can’t compare to Buffalo’s regional style.

“It’s not thick crust like Chicago or thin like New York,” he describes. “It’s in between the two, with a sweeter sauce and toppings to the edges.”

The most iconic of those toppings is what’s known as “cup-and-char pepperoni,” and it’s the trademark of a true Buffalo-style pie. Using slices smaller than the typical silver dollar-sized circles, cup-and-char pepperoni curl up at the edges to form small, grease-filled ‘roni cups which get charred around the top during cooking.

Salamone says it’s the best pizza he’s ever eaten.

The menu at the upcoming Baddpizza will be simple, and alongside the pies and authentic Buffalo wings (“Always cooked correctly — crispy”), Salamone says they’ll serve salads and subs.

The pizza will also be big. Real big.

With 18-inch round and party sheet (18”x26”) options, the circular pies will be on par with Flippin’ Pizza’s offerings and outsize both the larges (14”) and XLs (16”) at Domino’s, Paisano’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.

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While he’s been involved with a host of businesses (IT, real estate development, the oil and gas industry, among others) Salamone has no experience in the restaurant biz. So, in order to facilitate the infusion of upstate N.Y.-style pizza-and-wings into Northern Virginia, he’s bringing his longtime friend, Steve Houck, to town. Known as “Stevie Badd,” Houck is the namesake behind the concept as well as a 25-year veteran of one of Buffalo’s most iconic pizza-and-wing joints.

With his brother-in-law and Houck, Salamone and a small team of others are working to open three Baddpizza locations concurrently, with additional stores in McLean and South Riding.

The Falls Church location, taking over the former Potomac Cleaners’ space (346 W. Broad) next to Starbucks, will be primarily a takeout-and-delivery operation, with eight counter seats available for dine-in eating.

Near the end of this month, Salamone plans to relaunch Baddpizza’s website and market the restaurant at the New York State Society of Washington, D.C’s “Buffalo Nite,” an annual downtown celebration of all things Buffalo set for Sept. 25.

“Nobody loves their pizza here,” says Salamone.

But when Baddpizza opens later this November, he hopes that sentiment will change.

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