pepperoni pizza from pizza champ photo by adam rothbarth

First Look: Pizza Champ in Maplewood

After a long and rocky road, Pizza Champ has finally opened its doors at 2657 Lyle Ave. in Maplewood. This concept from Adam Altnether and Chris Kelling of Elmwood launched in August 2020 as a month-long pop-up; then, it more or less took over the Elmwood space for most of last year. But now, as of Wednesday, Jan. 26, it is totally its own thing. 

Ironically, Altnether and Kelling were exploring opening a pizzeria just before Covid hit the U.S., but hadn’t signed a lease yet when things started shutting down. “We were in talks, looking at spaces in March of 2020,” said Altnether. “We’re very lucky we didn’t pull the trigger.” Now, after a series of successful Elmwood pop-ups in December, the duo has completed their years-long vision for a pizza brick-and-mortar. And soon, Pizza Champ will share – pun intended, thank you – its space with Shared by Side Project, which will offer beer from a to-go window.  

Those familiar with Pizza Champ from its tenure at Elmwood should find few surprises, as Altnether promises a “pretty static menu.” The centerpiece will, of course, be pizza. Options include pies like a marinara, a grilled kale and ricotta, a triple pepperoni and a supreme. Specialty pies include a taco pizza and a Buffalo fried chicken pizza, while white pie offerings are the Fun Guy (a mushroom ’za) and the When In Rome, which features bacon, onion, corn, potato and rosemary. Diners will also have the option to create their own pizza. The menu also has a few salads – a grilled broccoli Caesar and a chopped salad – a couple chicken sandwiches, wings, fries and soft serve ice cream.  

One thing unique about Pizza Champ is that it won’t have indoor seating – eventually, a four seasons patio will offer space for about 60 people. Kelling said they plan to have the patio finished in March. Thus, customers will have the option to order pizza online or at a window, and can pick up pizza in person or have it delivered; Pizza Champ will offer its own delivery service and will also be available on DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub. 

Check out the slideshow for more information about Pizza Champ’s hours, menu, and more.