Back in June, I caught wind that Little Love Burger was closing its 312 E. Congress St. location and that Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen would be moving into the space soon after. Ever since then, I’ve been dreaming of pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, red onions, and red bell peppers doing jumping jacks on top of melted mozzarella. That pizza is called Jaime’s Favorite (the ingredients don’t jump around like that in real life).
Prior to opening up on Congress, Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen was a ghost kitchen located inside The Hub. Since last summer, co-owner and chef Gabriel Moreno and the crew have been busy perfecting a dough that is versatile enough to work with many different pizza styles.
“Downtown has been incredible,” said Gabriel. “I’ve been doing pizza for almost 20 years now. I’ve opened quite a few restaurants, and I’ve never seen this quick of a response or a genuine interest in what we’re doing within the first couple of weeks. Downtown’s been a great example of Tucson culture and how they treated our business up to this point.”
Gabriel’s roots are deeply intertwined with Tucson’s culinary world, and his family’s involvement in the food industry dates back to his grandfather, Jaime Moreno. He ran a string of local restaurants, one of these being Jaime’s Bar & Grill on Fourth Avenue from the early 1990s until 2000. Within its welcoming confines, Gabriel’s father was a bartender, his uncle was in the kitchen, and one of his aunts contributed her creative touch to the menu’s design.
It’s safe to say Gabriel was born into the Tucson food business.
“We’ve got generations working together in here, and Jaime himself still likes to come in and eat, hang out, talk to customers, give my kitchen a hard time, and make sure that we’re all still holding those traditional Jaime vibes,” Gabriel laughed. “We’re passionate about what we do. Everything is still made from scratch. Everything’s got our entire heart and soul in it, and it will continue that way as long as this brand is alive.”
Back in 2005, Gabriel got his start in the pizza world at the former Rockin’ Pizza in Tucson, he helped open Tubac’s Italian Peasant in 2010, moved back to Tucson to sling pizzas at Grimaldi’s, and then spent some time at Pizza Luna before it closed in 2022.
With all of that experience, it was time the Moreno family opened their own pizza joint. Now, with a new space and a brand-new dining room, Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen is thriving, serving 10-inch and 16-inch pizzas, calzones, garlic knots, and hot wings to hungry downtown eaters.
If you’re looking for something quick, there’s something brand-new on the menu — something Gabriel is especially excited to share.
“We now have focaccia slices,” he said. “Those came about when I collaborated with Johnny Gibson’s before my kitchen had opened because it was the only style of pizza that I could make for catering. So, we are offering thicker crust, almost in that Detroit style, only by the slice.”
The slices come in three styles: Classic Cheese, Old World, and White. Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen’s full menu can be found online.
Plus, there’s more to come! Soon, the restaurant will be offering a Happy Hour. Stay tuned for that but it’ll likely include discounted slices and draft beer — maybe more.
Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen is located at 312 E. Congress St. and is open 3 – 10 p.m. on Tuesday – Thursday, 3 – 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday, noon – 8 p.m. on Sunday, and closed Monday. For more information, call (520) 849-5908 and visit tucsonjaimes.com. Jaime’s Pizza Kitchen is also a Tucson Foodie Restaurant Partner.
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