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Posted on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

New Ann Arbor restaurant: NeoPapalis Pizza opens Wednesday

By Ben Freed


NeoPapalis Pizza on East William Street opens to the public Wednesday morning at 11 am.

Daniel Brenner |

NeoPapalis Pizza starts officially serving what owner Joe Sheena calls "neo-Neapolitan pizza" Wednesday on the ground floor of the new Zaragon West apartment complex at the corner of East William and Thompson Streets.

“We’ve been passing out a bunch of samples to the local community in preparation for the opening,” he said.

“We’ve given out a couple hundred pies already probably, and we’ve had our employees going through their training.”

The new pizza restaurant is the third such establishment in the increasingly crowded “pizza” district that has developed on William between State Street and Thompson, joining NYPD and the Original Cottage Inn.

“Our pizza is completely different than what anyone else is doing around here,” Sheena said.

“It’s an affordable gourmet. You start with our four base pizzas and then you can put up to five of 29 different toppings on. A 12 inch basic pie will be seven bucks, the most expensive will be $12.”

O’Neal Construction did the heavy lifting, turning the empty ground floor into a restaurant, and Sheena said they delivered right on their target date of September 28. He designed the space with the help of a U-M architecture student, and said the focal point of the restaurant will be his kitchen.

“It’s all demonstration cooking,” Sheena said.

“Our sandwiches, salads, and pizzas are made right in front of you. The kitchen is wide open, we want people to look at it.”

Employees at the restaurant will be a mix of students and people that have worked in the food industry in the area.

The concept for NeoPapalis was new for Sheena, who studied at the Italian School of Cooking in San Fransisco, and he says his modified Neapolitan style pizza will travel more easily than the original hyper-thin crust style, allowing students to take home leftovers.

“They can throw it in their fridge, put it in the microwave for a few seconds, and it will pop out pretty well and taste pretty good,” he said.

Sheena’s goal is for patrons to be able to come into the store, order, and receive their pizza in no more than seven minutes. To make that happen, he’s using new ovens that can cook the pizzas in under three minutes.

“I’ve never used these ovens before, they’re new to me. So we bought one of them and we were training with the staff off-site while we were waiting for the space to be ready,” he said.

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Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

Oh boy, another pizza shop. Yippee.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

Nice website! Can't wait for the menu to be posted. I'll be coming by for the vegan cheese pizza mentioned in a previous article. The 'create your own salad' sounds great, too! :)


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

I come from a family of pizza makers . I'll have to stop by and try it.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Gave it a try for lunch today. Food was good enough so that I'll be back.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Man oh man! No deep dish?????? The best pizza I ever had was your deep dish. I suspect your regular pizza will be delisious, and will probably try it sometime when it's convenient, but I was sooo excited when I first heard you were coming, but now I guess I'll just call Hungy Howie again. LOL. Bottom line, though, is that you have many thousands of starving students who will crowd the place once word gets out. No deep dish? Pfui!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Pizza Papalis is Detroit is KNOW for its deep dish - it's their thing. I agree with Billy Bob - I'll try something new, but I was eager for their standard fare.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

That's it? "Deep dish" is your criteria? So if you go to a steakhouse and there's no burger, would you say that "Man, the best meat I ever had was a burger!" There's lots of different types of pizza out there - they're all good in their own way. Your deep dish is good, but it's not the only good pizza out there.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

I will be there Friday with several people. Looking forward to trying it out. No compaints about parking, it is abundant!

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Oh, how nice. I look forward to NEVER going. Thanks.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Sounds good. Any chance of gluten free pizzas?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Gluten-free pizza eh? Should be sold right alongside decaffinated coffee, alcohol-free beer, and sugar-free candy.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Julie, i was wondering the same thing. It would be awesome and smart if they had a gluten free pizza.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

i never got any free samples. please leave instructions below.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

A website would be nice for a Ann Arbor place to have, being you got to fight to park just to have one. I would like to see Pizza places OUT of right down town. Hate going there just because of parking alone. If your not a student already living there its pretty inconvenient


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

What a unique and compelling argument! I've never considered this before, but you are right: navigating the campus and downtown by car can be frustrating for those who don't understand city traffic! Thank heavens no one is compelling them to come down there. Furthermore, now that you mention it, It is a pity the owners made the mistake of opening a pizza place geared towards students in an area inhabited by students. Silly wabbits!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Cool. Will probably come try it eventually. But, without the famous papalis deep dish (chicago style), my motivation is low. Too bad.