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Music as loud as the Fremont-facing mural will lure you into Evel Pie if the fresh-baked pizza scent doesn’t get you in the doors first. But once inside, be sure to explore the back patio. A herb garden opened behind the Evel Knievel-themed pizza shop in March after general manager and the pizza maker Vincent Rotolo invited the community to plant some veggies and greens in their outdoor space.
Rotolo, known for his green thumb, was approached by the pizza joint’s owner, Branden Powers, to create a junkyard-style garden. Everything including a natural citronella plant that repels mosquitos and fruit flies, five different types of tomatoes, kale and 19 different herbs were planted in authentic vintage tomato and oil cans to add to the rustic look.
The people who joined wrote their name, date and what they planted on the cans. The herbs are within arm’s reach of the picnic tables so customers can add fresh basil or whatever they choose directly on their pizza. “This a community garden, everybody planted this together. They can come back to sample and use it as much as they want,” Rotolo says.
The idea was inspired by Rotolo’s upbringing. “Gardening reminds me of my mom and my childhood. Growing up, my family grew a lot of things we could eat in our home,” he remembers. “I always want to surround myself with things that remind me of childhood, youth, family and home.”
Rotolo maintains the garden, watering and trimming the plants throughout the week. “There’s a certain love and care for detail it takes to grow something from a seed to full maturation,” he says. “That represents what we want to embody in our restaurant. We encourage Downtown to do things that give back to the community.”