Simone Brothers Have Been Serving Up a Slice of Zionsville For More Than 15 Years
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Chris and Daniel Simone were born and raised on Long Island in New York. “Grew up in a big Italian family,” Chris says.
As they got a little older, the Simone family decided to pack up and move to Indiana. Chris and Daniel both graduated locally at Hamilton Southeastern High School before focusing on their dreams of opening their own restaurant one day.
As you might imagine, the brothers know a thing or two about New York Style pizza. Growing up in their grandmother and mother’s kitchens, they picked up plenty of delicious Italian recipes along the way. The family influence only further inspired their dreams later in life.
“We grew up pretty much hanging off our grandmother and our mom’s aprons,” Chris says. “They’re both phenomenal cooks, and we’ve brought over many of their recipes here in Indiana. Food has always been a central point in Italian culture. Back in New York, the whole family always got together every Sunday, could be up to 60 people, for dinner.”
In 2003, the brothers decided to take their passion for cooking and turn it into a family business — opening Amore Pizzeria that year in Zionsville. The pizzeria is located in the Boone Village Shopping Center, right next to Akard True Value Hardware, and has remained in the same spot for more than 15 years now.
“We got a really good lease deal in Zionsville back then,” Chris says. “Zionsville was growing at the time, with a lot of families, and we wanted to tap into a smaller market and community. This location, since day one, has been phenomenal for us. Our first day we opened, we were out the door for about five hours. That’s when we knew we made the right choice.”
Getting started didn’t come without some hard knocks for the Simone brothers. Chris says he and Daniel were full of ambition, but they had plenty to learn in the restaurant business once they dove in.
“We were super young when we opened,” Chris says. “I was 23 and Daniel was 21. Our grandfather lent us the money to get going. It was so much work — seven days a week, 12 hours a day for several years. We just kind of did it. Many of our family members have owned Italian restaurants and pizzerias in New York over the years, so we had a lot of insight into the business. We saw a real need, at the time, for a New York Style pizzeria and just jumped on it. Thankfully, it worked out.”
The brothers don’t skimp on the food or the service, and it shows. Recently, Amore Pizzeria was ranked as the second best pizza in the state by The Indy A-List.
The Simone brothers make their own dough, in house for the New York Style Pies, and they incorporate their family recipes into all their food. Amore’s big deck ovens bring out the perfect flavor in the pizzas as well. Amore’s cheese is also the best on the market — Grande Cheese. The brothers spend double the price on Grande than what other pizza places might spend on their cheese because, Chris says, “it is worth it.”
“We have purposefully stood by the ingredients that we use,” Chris says. “Grande is the most phenomenal, expensive cheese that you can buy. It comes from one factory and they license who can use it or distribute it in each state. It is expensive, but we have never compromised on our quality. Even when the economy tanked in 2008, we never compromised. You can’t do that in a town like Zionsville. As you can see in our customer reviews, it is definitely worth it.”
Amore Pizzeria serves up much more than pizza, too. The menu includes calzones, Italian subs, pasta, chicken wings, salads, desserts and more — giving plenty of options to customers.
Still, pizza is their specialty. For first-time customers, Chris recommends they try a certain pizza to get a feel for just how delicious Amore is, and it may not be the option you would think of first.
“I personally recommend our cheese pizza,” he says. “If you are going to test the worth of any pizza place, you won’t get it any better than a cheese slice. That slice really brings out the freshness and quality of the ingredients. We make all kinds of great, specialty pizzas too.”
Amore stays involved in the community as much as possible. Chris says the pizzeria is always available for schools, charities, churches and whoever else may be looking to hold a Dine to Donate event. For more than 15 years now, the Zionsville community has supported Amore Pizzeria, too, and the Simone brothers are grateful for the support. Chris and Daniel’s families have grown to love the community over the years as well.
“We are ingrained in this community,” Chris says. “You get that small-town feel here and it is great. Zionsville is a close, tight-knit community, and everyone is laid back. The schools are fantastic, the people are great, there is no crime. It is just a great town. I would never live anywhere else now. We are very humbled and very thankful that this community has supported us for so long.”
The best way they can give back, Chris says, is to continue providing quality food and service. Overall, the Simone bothers hope Amore Pizzeria is a place where families come to create their own memories. The restaurant is lined with old, framed photos on the walls of their grandparents and others in their family. That is by design. After all, Chris says, it is all about family.
“Pizza is made to bring people together,” he says. “That is why it is cut the way it is and served the way it is. We try to just bring everyone together and create a positive vibe in the community.”
Amore Pizzeria is located at 41 Boone Village Center in Zionsville. You can give them a call at 317-733-1609 or visit them online at amorezionsville.com for more information.