Roland Konicke pulls a wood-fired pizza from the stove Thursday at his newly opened Uncie Ro's pizza restaurant in the East Lake Village shopping center. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

WATSONVILLE—A new wood-fired pizza restaurant recently opened in the East Lake Village Shopping Center. Sandwiched between the Villager bar and Carmona’s BBQ and Catering, Uncie Ro’s is the latest addition to the busy center.

“We’re just happy to be able to open our doors to Watsonville,” owner Roland Konicke said. “We’re a family-oriented business. It’s been a long journey.”

Uncie Ro’s, with indoor and outdoor seating, features a menu of eight pizzas, calzones, small plates (including homemade meatballs), salads, a variety of beverages and beer and wine.

Konicke said he got his start years ago through selling his take-and-bake pizzas at farmer’s markets seven days a week. Then his pizzas started selling at Whole Foods and natural food stores.

“I also started a mobile business where I’d bring my own wood-fired stove along with me,” he said. “I’ve also done a ton of catering.”

Property manager Clark Codiga said he is delighted with the new tenant. 

“Roland has the experience and knows what he’s doing,” he said. “He can do a lot of volume if that’s called for. We gave this place a new modern look but kept its charm as well.”

The location has been home to pizza restaurants for four decades, including Round Table Pizza and Chili’s Pizza, Codiga said.

Konicke, a single dad with two kids who lives in Davenport, says that his love of cooking largely stems from his mother’s Italian side of the family.

“I come from New York where pizzas are a big part of life,” he said. “We really emphasize local sources of organic produce here. Our sausages, meatballs and sauces are homemade, like so much of our menu. We’ll also feature daily special menus with things like kid’s cheese pizzas.”

Konicke added that he will feature local artists on his walls. Currently showing are eight paintings by Noah Gould.

“Clark worked really hard to make this happen,” Konicke said. “I’m really excited to get this going.”

Codiga said he’s shaping the center as a community hub, with eateries like Carmona’s, Sushi QU, Coffeeville and Fruition Brewing that are stationed between Staff of Life Natural Foods and Ace Hardware.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.



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