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A Slice of New York and Italy Comes to Downtown Columbia

By Zola Heck
endwell taverna

Photos by L.G. Patterson and Bryan Maness

Columbia is no stranger to good food. However, Bryan Maness, co-owner of Endwell Taverna and owner of Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, notes that there has been a noticeable absence in the culinary landscape in Columbia, particularly in the downtown area. “One thing that is really missing downtown is a full-service Italian restaurant,” he says. “And so, we wanted to bring the New York style pizza and classic Italian flavors to the downtown area.” Maness and his partner Ted Cianciosi have been working together for 15 years and felt it was time to make their pop-up pizza place permanent. “We’ve been doing some events at the Columbia farmers market, and I also operated at the Biscuits, Beats, and Brews festival which I am the naming sponsor on,” Maness says. “We also sponsored the True/False Film Fest artist lounge, so all the artists got to sample Endwell pizza there as well.”

diningout 6711Once the flavors were known and loved in the community, Maness and Cianciosi knew it was time to take the famous New York and Italian flavors to the next level. This meant finally opening the permanent location downtown at 107 N. Ninth St. in May. “We are just downtown about a block north of The Blue Note,” Maness says. “We’ve got great feedback from the community, and I think people are excited to try something new.”

And the star of the show is the pizza, which has a 72-hour fermented sourdough crust. “It’s the backbone of this operation. Ted has a real passion for pizza, and his pizza is something really special that you can’t find in the Midwest,” Maness says. That fermentation process leaves the customer with “a light, flakey, delicate crust on the outside but the base of the pizza remains really firm,” Maness says. “It’s really a quality product that we’re really proud of and happy to debut it in the Midwest.”

Providing quality products is something Maness and Cianciosi have at the forefront of their new business, and plan to spotlight local products and seasonal items when possible. “We’re definitely focusing on local products with local farmers, local meats and vegetables,” Maness says. “But there are some products that we’re going to be sourcing internationally, just because you can’t find them at the same quality that are domestically produced.”

While it seems as if this slice of New York making permanent placement in Columbia is a new adventure, the inspiration for Endwell Taverna started more than three generations ago when Cianciosi’s family moved from Italy to New York, landing in a town called Endwell. As you may have guessed, that’s the origin of the beloved name, Endwell Taverna. “A lot of these recipes we will be featuring are things Ted’s grandmother and grandfather would put on their table growing up, so we are really bringing the family traditions of Ted Cianciosi’s family into the mix here,” Maness says.

Beyond pizza, Endwell Taverna will offer other Italian lunch classics, such as prime meats off the grill, handmade fresh pasta, homemade antipasti, a curated wine list, local beers and a full cocktail bar. Maness says the plan is to be a café style eatery for lunch, fine dining for dinner and remain open for late-night outings, offering drinks and slices of pizza to settle that late-night craving.

He and Cianciosi believe that the late- night options for adults in downtown Columbia are limited and hope to become the preferred destination for those seeking a place to unwind and enjoy themselves a little later into the evening. “We noticed a lot of late-night options for adults to stay up past you know, eight or nine o’clock kind of stopped during COVID-19. There’s definitely the college bar scene, but you don’t see a lot of that for professionals and middle-aged,” Maness says. “We are hoping to provide that late-night bar aspect for our clientele as well.” And what better way to end your night than with a quality pizza and carefully crafted cocktails? You know what they say, all’s well that ends well, especially at Endwell Taverna. “All’s well that ends well. That is actually what the tagline for the restaurant will be,” Maness says.

Endwell Taverna plans to be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and 4 p.m. to close for dinner and late-night options Wednesday through Monday. Endwell also offers catering for private events so you can enjoy New York and Italian flavors at every function. To learn more about this exciting addition to the dining scene, and to get all the delicious details, visit endwelltaverna.com.

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