Like so much of what one finds on Grand Avenue, Carson Wheeler's pizza joint is a little grungy. Grand Avenue Pizza Company's itty-bitty dining room is besotted by an amateurish mural, the relentlessly hip music is played too loud, and the patio is tastefully unkempt -- all in keeping with the tone of Grand's scruffy downtown arts district. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. No one who's eaten this tiny diner's pies is coming back for the ambience. The pizza here is excellent.
Wheeler, a native of Virginia, opened his pie shop about 11 months ago in a long-vacant corner store at Grand and Fillmore. The former home of Long Wong's and later a small bakery, the building originally was built in 1951 and sat empty for five years before Wheeler -- who'd previously run pizza places in Virginia and Mississippi -- moved in.