When Brewer Stouffer was in his twenties, he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do with his life. So, he traveled, even visiting Italy a few times, and with each trip, his purpose became more clear.
“I always just wanted to make a better pizza in a cool downtown environment,” said Stouffer, owner and founder of The Roman Candle Pizzeria.
His dreams began with his first location on Williamson Street in Madison, but as the business grew, Stouffer knew exactly where he wanted to be next: Middleton.
“At the time, there wasn’t a direct competitor and there wasn’t really an established neighborhood pizzeria, so it just seemed like a good place to come,” he said. “This is our busiest store and has continued to be our busiest store through Covid. I think Middleton’s true colors really showed during that time. We had a lot of support.”
The Roman Candle resides within a historic building in downtown Middleton on the corner of Parmenter Street and University Avenue. Visitors cannot miss the “Love Your Neighbor” mural painted on the side of the building!
The pandemic took its toll on The Roman Candle, like every restaurant, but every day things are improving, and Stouffer says he’s grateful the community rallied around them.
“We heard from some of our real loyal regulars and that always makes you feel great. We definitely saw people tip more. I think that’s one way people were showing their support.”
The Roman Candle gave back to the community too — donating mre than$20,000 in food to first responders during the early months of the pandemic. Roman Candle values their relationships with the Middleton community, getting involved with neighborhood schools, supplying food for the football concession stands, even hiring high school kids whenever they can.
“We’ve always tried to be good neighbors and we feel like a part of the community,” he said. “We love Middleton and Middleton has loved us back.”
The Roman Candle’s best sellers are their pepperoni and supreme pizzas, although you shouldn’t miss the specialty pies or chicken wings either, and Stouffer is confident it’s the dough that makes the difference.
“We start tomorrow’s dough yesterday. It takes two days to make a batch of dough,” he said. “I believe firmly that any great pizza has to have the right crust. Ours being an east coast style pizza needs to have flavor and texture that holds up for big slices and ours does. When you bite into that crust and it has a little toothiness like an al dente pasta and kind of holds its shape, but then it breaks apart and has a rich, nutty flavor, that makes me really happy. I never get tired of eating our pizza, even 17 years later.”
Stouffer looks forward to welcoming back more dine-in customers in the future and hopes to roll out some new menu items this winter. In the meantime, he’s focused on a deep appreciation for the past 15 years.
“We’re so grateful for our customers who continue to want to eat our food and appreciate what we’re doing,” Stouffer said. “We’re just trying to show gratitude back and be mindful that we’re really lucky to be well into our second decade when so many restaurants haven’t been able to be successful that long.”
The Roman Candle
1920 Parmenter St., Middleton, WI
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.