Nasers’ Neapolitan pizzeria opens in Nashua

“Good food, fast” is how Tony Naser, co-owner of the newest Nashua restaurant, Crush Pizzeria Napoletana, describes the food.

In August 2009, after a pizza tour vacation with his family, Tony Naser decided to bring authentic Naples-style pizza to Nashua. Making fresh dough and baking pizza every weekend had been a family tradition, and the tradition became a passion to make the best pizza.

Crush, at 449 Amherst St., officially opened for business June 1.

“Business has been unbelievably good,” said Naser. “We’ve been using about 30 pounds of mozzarella a day. It’s been crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy.”

Crush gets its name from the simple way the tomatoes that make up the sauce are prepared. They are crushed by hand and then placed on the pizza.

Naser and his brother Eli co-founded the restaurant. Naser’s wife, Elisar, helps out because the family has done so much experimenting with making pizza at home, the couple’s three young daughters now refuse to eat any pizza not made in the Neapolitan way, Naser said.

According to Naser, of the approximately 70,000 pizzerias in the United States, only 40 of them are true Neapolitan style.

Authentic Neapolitan pizza is made using fresh homemade mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, imported extra virgin olive oil and imported San Marzano tomatoes that have been grown on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, Naser said. Once each handmade pizza is created, it is cooked in a 900-degree wood stove. This is so hot that it takes only 60 to 90 seconds for the pizza to be fully cooked.

Once a pizza is put in the oven, it has to be turned every few seconds to ensure it gets evenly cooked. The fire-charged blisters on the crust and on the pizza’s bottom are what gives Neapolitan pizza its unique flavor, according to Naser.

Naser, who lives in Salem and runs a chain of jewelry stores, had been thinking about starting a restaurant for the past three years, he said. His friend has a restaurant in Milford, so he was familiar with the Nashua area. When the space opened up, he grabbed it.

Crush seats 49 people. It has modern-looking red and green decor and hanging lights. You can watch the workers as they make your pizzas right behind the bar.

The restaurant is currently applying for its license to sell beer and wine.

According to Naser, some of the early favorites are the traditional Margherita pizza made with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil; the Crush signature pizza, with Prosciutto Di Parma, arugula, grape tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano, drizzled with truffle oil; and the Mediterrano, with fire roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and grape tomatoes with a black truffle spread.

Appetizer favorites include the fried zucchini served with lemon aioli and the Italian-style chicken wings marinated in Limoncello, garlic and rosemary, he said.

Prices run about $9 for appetizers and $10-$17 for the pizzas, depending on the toppings. One pizza feeds two or more people.

New businesses often run into a few bumps, and Crush is no exception. The first wood stove they ordered from Italy did not meet UL safety standards and had to be returned. Naser said they are also still trying to get a feel for demand.

Once the business is off and running and some of the kinks have been ironed out, Naser said he hopes to expand Crush to other locations in New Hampshire.