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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Applewood Pizza closes in Menlo Park

Uploaded: Jan 11, 2019
The original Applewood Pizza has closed after decades of business at 1001 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Armand Anicete of NAI Northern California, the real estate broker for the space, confirmed the restaurant closed at the end of December and said the owner planned to retire. The owner could not be reached for comment.

For years, Applewood served pizza and pasta next to Hungarian dishes like goulash and langos (fried garlic bread). Bela Kardos, a native of Hungary, opened what was initially called the Applewood Inn in 1983. According to a 1998 Almanac News story, it took him seven months to develop the perfect pizza crust. He created his own combinations of toppings, including Hungarian sausage, sauerkraut and smoked salmon.

An employee tosses pizza dough in the air at Applewood Pizza in 2000. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

Kardos came to the United States in 1956, working in a factory and hotels in Miami Beach and later under chefs in Chicago and New York, according to a 1996 restaurant review in the Palo Alto Weekly.

In a 1998 interview with the Weekly, Kardos told Applewood Inn’s origin story. He had previously worked in real estate and asked the owner of a "beer joint" at the 1001 El Camino Real site (Kardos lived nearby) if he wanted to sell. The owner apparently agreed, but the man Kardos hired to run the restaurant had a heart attack three months after opening, so he had to take over the pizza making.

"I had never even eaten pizza before, so I went around to local pizzerias and went through cookbooks trying to figure out how to make a pizza," Kardos said.

The most important part of the pizza, in Kardos' eyes? The crust, always baked in a brick oven, he said in 1998.

Applewood locations in San Carlos and Los Altos also closed in past years, as did an Applewood 2-Go in Menlo Park across the street from the full-service restaurant in 2016.

Loyal customers took to Yelp in early January to lament Applewood's sudden closure.

"I went to their door at 4pm on Tuesday (January 8th, 2019) and it was dark and locked.  NooOOOOOoooOOOoooooo!" wrote David B. of La Honda. "Probably the best pizza on the face of the earth."

Nancy N. of San Francisco wrote that her "family is so sad to see this old time pizza place gone. It's unfortunate to see a family run, restaurant  shut it's doors [sic - it's important to have a variety of restaurants to chose from including a non boutique traditional no frills place with friendly staff!"

Anicete said there are "multiple people interested" in the 5,200-square-foot space.

In the 1998 interview, the Weekly posed a serious question to Kardos: "What is the future for pizza?"

To which Kardos responded, "I think it will be on the market forever because of the variety of options. It has everything your body needs: vegetables, meat if you want, and dough is a bread. It is just like a hamburger. It will never go out of fashion."
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 +   1 person likes this
Posted by John Sack, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 11, 2019 at 9:34 am

I don't know of anyplace else locally to get langos. (I've tried making them myself, and that didn't turn out so well...).

Does anyone know of another restaurant or place that has langos available?

It is delicious warm after being rubbed with a cut clove of garlic!

 +   2 people like this
Posted by jo, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:49 pm

We've ordered our Friday night pizza from Applewood since we moved to Menlo Park 11 years ago. Best pizza in the area, so sad that they are gone.

 +   7 people like this
Posted by So Long to Old Standards, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jan 11, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Applewood dough was unique...light & airy. Unlike any other.

Excellent imported beer selection as well.

With The Oasis and now Applewood gone, casual dining is getting more mundane and corporate by the hour.

When/if Dutch Goose in West Menlo eventually closes, all is lost.

The same could said for Harry's Hofbrau in RC as their other branches have since closed.

Ken's on ECR in MP is another casual dining place long gone.

MP is following PA's more and get less.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chris K, a resident of Southgate,
on Jan 14, 2019 at 5:28 pm

It seems that all of the content is based on the 1988 article. The place changed hands in the 90, when Mr. Kardos sold it. Could we here from the current owners? Why weren't they able to sell? And most importantly, what was the source of the Hungarian sausage?

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