Prison Street Pizza in Lahaina is known for its traditional New Jersey-style pies, and its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Owners Charles (Hatch) and his wife Miriam Clarke built their pizzeria in an empty house off Prison Street in Lahaina using the same equipment and techniques used in New Jersey and Staten Island by their Italian relatives.
“It’s a retro kind of pizza and service, with more of a current spin,” said Hatch. “Jersey style with Maui Aloha.”
Hatch grew up in Jersey and got into the pizza business when his brother-in-law from Italy decided to move his Staten Island pizzeria to the Jersey Shore. He worked as a dishwasher and cook during high school and eventually worked his way up to making pies.
But after a few years of this, Hatch thought of leaving the business. He moved away and went to community college and then Penn State, graduating with an MBA. After working in Atlantic City, and being out of the pizza business for five years, he then returned to Jersey to help his brother-in-law.
“Long story short, I went back to the original pizzeria I worked at as a kid, and we re-opened it in 1991,” Hatch said. It was around this time that he met his business partner, Anthony Serpico. The two later took over the lease on a burned-out pizza place in Jersey, and opened the original Serpico’s in 1994.
Hatch later bought out his partner and helped bring Serpico’s to a new height of success. He sold the original and moved to Maui with his wife and six children. In 2006, he opened Serpico’s in Pukalani. As the children grew and went off to college, Hatch and Miriam decided to open a second restaurant with that New Jersey pizzeria style. Prison Street Pizza came to be.
“While everyone else was morphing into these trendy wood-fire pizza places, we stuck to the ways we made pizza back in the ’60s and ’70s,” Hatch said.
The menu at Prison Street is that of a classic pizzeria. By the slice, or full pies, they offer loads of options from classics like pepperoni and cheese, to more modern offerings like barbecued chicken and pesto-based pies with roasted peppers. All are made with fresh classic ingredients, using techniques mastered after decades in the business.
They also have options to build your own pies, up to five toppings, and do catering for large parties. Though the pizza is the namesake of Prison Street, they also offer wings, calzones, sandwiches and salads. Calzones are stuffed with cheese and any number of toppings and the salads range from traditional Caesar and house salads to spinach and goat cheese.
When you get thirsty, Prison Street Pizza has an array of craft beers and wines. Adding to its casual atmosphere, the friendly staff make it a comfortable place to enjoy lunch alone or with friends. The chefs are always hard at work in the back firing the ovens and listening to music, making it easy to lose track of time.
“We like to provide friendly service and accommodate whatever special requirements you want on your pizza,” said Hatch. “We are really casual, and our prices are for tourists and locals alike. We don’t really do kama`aina because we feel we are priced kama`aina for everybody.”
PRISON STREET PIZZA
133C Prison St., Lahaina
Photos: Sean M. Hower