Pizza has been our specialty…. it’s the reason we opened for business. Back in 1980, Chris McGahan ate his first bite of his girlfriend’s dad’s homemade pizza. Linda (Chris’ girlfriend) told Chris how Jim (her dad) made the sauce and dough from scratch from his special family recipe. She said Jim added the spices to the tomato sauce, brought them to a boil and then simmered for about 2 hours. She explained that Jim took most of the day to make the dough, which he let it rise twice, and kneaded it by hand. Back then Chris thought it was the best pizza he ever tasted. About a year later he married his girlfriend and found out he got to eat his father-in-law’s pizza a little more often. Since Jim was half Italian, Chris and Linda started calling this special family recipe “Italian Jim’s Pizza”! The name stuck. The only problem to this whole pizza deal was that Jim wouldn’t tell Chris how he made it. Finally after 7 years of marriage, Jim came by the house and told Chris he would give him the recipe if he would promise not to tell anyone. In 1988 Chris and Linda started making the pizza for their friends and relatives just like Jim used to and still does. Now Chris and Linda have been making the “Italian Jim’s” pizza for over 2 decades and counting. Finally by popular demand of friends, relatives, and even a few strangers, and with Jim’s blessing; Chris and Linda opened their first Italian Jim’s Pizzeria on March 4th, 1996.
Little has changed since Chris ate his first bite of “Italian Jim’s” pizza. He still thinks it is the best pizza he’s ever tasted and apparently so does a bunch of other folks. Chris and Linda hear satisfied customers say all the time, “That is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted!” or words to that effect. We here at Italian Jim’s still make the sauce and dough the same way Jim does at home. We take special care to find the best produce. We hand slice our bell peppers instead of chopping them all up so our customers get a bigger taste and a prettier pizza. We have been told many times that our pizzas are a “work of art” and that they are “too pretty to eat”. We use the very best Mozzarella cheese that money can buy. We use ONLY Grande Mozzarella cheese. We are told by the Grande cheese company that they won’t even sell their cheese to the big chains. Grande cheese only has 3 natural ingredients: Class #1 Grade A milk, salt, and rennet. Most all other cheeses use class #2 or class #3 milk we are told. They have sprayed whey and/or something called Micro-crystalline cellulose. That’s a fancy name for paper. They add that for filler and to keep the less expensive cheese from caking all up. The cheese we use reheats better than the other guys and comes back to a quality, tasty, product even after being in the fridge for a few days.
While some of the other pizza guys are out there fighting each other to give their customer the cheapest pizza, we at Italian Jim’s are endeavoring to give our customers what they deserve, the very best tasting and highest quality pizza possible at a fair price. Anybody can make something cheap…. but only ONE can do something the BEST! If your looking for the cheapest pizza, you might want to look somewhere else, but if you want the very best, look here at Italian Jim’s and you will not only find the very best pizza – you’ll find the value and the service you deserve!
THE STORY CONTINUES. Now the Hottest Show on Broadway!
Since opening the Italian Jim’s, The kids have all grown up, Kim and Krista now oversee and are involved in many aspects of the restaurant. Micah works in the catering division and also is Chris’ right hand in the glass blowing department. Chris and Linda had always seen Italian Jim’s growing to be a more upscale establishment. With all three children now full time in the business by their own choosing and all working in management; Chris and Linda decided it was the right time to take what they had been doing up a couple of notches. With steaks, seafood, more pasta, and signature chef dishes added along with the great pizza, this new store in the heart Historic Downtown Edmond, hopefully reflects that vision.
Chris and Linda along with their son, Micah, also founded Bella Forte Glass Blowing Studio where they create all sorts of blown art glass and their own unique McGahan Signature Glass lines. They have incorporated blown art glass (which is widely known as an “Italian Art”) with the Italian cuisine. Linda was looking for a unique birthday gift for her husband, Chris in 2004. She remembered that several years ago, they had watched a program on OETA about Muranse glass blowers. Chris was fascinated as he watched a master glass blower roll up beautiful cobalt blue cane on a bubble of molten glass, blow it out, spin it to a bowl and swing it to fold the sides. Linda, remembering all that, signed Chris up for a series of glass blowing lessons. All day Saturday and half a day on Sunday for 5 weekends. Out of Chris’ desire and passion for learning the art of glassblowing, Bella Forte Glass Studio was born. “Bella” is Italian for “Beautiful”, “Forte” means “loud” and/or “strong”. Bella Forte Glass Studio represents “Beautiful” glass that is “Loud” in color and “Strong” in design. It seemed perfectly natural to combine the “Italian Art of Blown Glass” with the “Italian Food” their restaurant served.
Chris then began blowing glass with a little more consistency. Soon his son, Micah, returned home from college and Chris enlisted him as his main helper. After two years of assisting, Micah decided he wanted to blow glass also. So now Micah still assists Chris and also creates his own work and designs. They have done big chandelier projects, commission work, pendant lights, art glass in the form of vases, wall hangings, functional bowls, pitchers, and just about anything they or designers can dream up. They have their glass in galleries in Edmond, The Paseo, and Nichols Hills. They work with Interior Designers, home builders, and people just down the street to provide them with works of art that resonate with beauty, color, and strong design. They have been featured on OETA on two different programs, “Gallery” and “State of Creativity”. They also have been featured in “Distinctly Oklahoma” magazine, several local television stations, “The Oklahoman”, “The Oklahoma Gazette”, OKC Symphony Show House, featured in “Oklahoma Today” magazine where they listed the top pizza places in Oklahoma and also featured our Glass Studio. Chris has been fortunate to have had a workshop with two of the best glass blowers in the United States and developed a personal friendship and acquaintance with Janusz Pozniak and Dante Marioni. Janusz has even made the trip Bella Forte Glass Studio more than once to blow glass with Chris and Micah and teach them a lot of things. Chris also got to spend a week watching Lino Tagliapietra (Dale Chihuly indicated Lino was one of the best glass blowers around) up close at the Tacoma Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.
Now we have realized another step in our dream! We have wanted to combine the restaurant with the glass blowing studio, and we have done so here in Edmond! People can come in and eat great Italian Food and watch us create Italian art at the same time in the same place!