Unique, quality pizza at Tomato Bar
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent April 26, 2013 2:06PM
Blair and Cory Muro at the entrance of their new restaurant, The Tomato Bar, in Valparaiso. The couple also own Valley reastaurant downtown. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The Tomato Bar is located at 2310 LaPorte Ave., Valparaiso
Call 462-7499 for information.
Updated: May 30, 2013 2:08PM
It may seem soon for the people who opened The Valley restaurant at 55 Franklin St. to have opened their second place, The Tomato Bar Pizza Bakery, away from the downtown restaurant district.
But Blair and Cory Muro and their new partner — The Valley’s business manager Jeff Stykowski — had reasons to open the new pizza place on March 4 near the Valparaiso Marketplace.
“We had The Valley going pretty smooth... To keep the quality of people we had, we had to expand,” Cory Muro said.
He wanted a socially engaging atmosphere and pizza like that at a restaurant in Alaska he worked for.
The Muros met in Colorado in 2008 after she had worked in hotels in the Bavarian Alps and Jackson Hole, Wyo., and he as a chef around Colorado, Alaska and Honduras.
For Blair, Valparaiso was near her family and hometown of LaCrosse, and where they used to shop.
“I always loved this downtown,” she said.
Cory, a native of Destin, Fla., lived mostly in resort towns but felt comfortable opening a place in Valparaiso.
Being in a non-resort town also allows them to create relationships with customers, Blair said.
People used to The Valley, which opened in October 2011, will find Tomato Bar more casual, Cory said.
The Valley would never have televisions, but Tomato Bar does at the bar where they have 20 craft beers available.
Where The Valley is farm-to-fork and uses locally grown ingredients, the unique pizzas at Tomato Bar make that difficult.
But they take the same care with ingredients, down to a PH balanced pizza crust using filtered water.
Both restaurants have an open kitchen because people seem to have an interest in food preparation.
“It helps hold us to the standards we’re trying to achieve,” Cory said.
At Tomato Bar, the traditional method of hand tossing is also fun for kids, he said.
Bar Manager Blaine Neesen said there’s overlap of customers, but Tomato Bar sees more moms and kids.
Many mothers place orders and shop until pick up, and Tomato Bar may get a drive-through window to make it easier, although that’s still in plans.
Cory said he’s always wanted to own a restaurant because he’s always wanted to work for himself.
The ability to make your own rules includes risk, but for Cory, it’s calculated.
“If I didn’t think I could make it, I wouldn’t take the risk. I only take bets I can win,” he said.