Applewood Pizza closes in Menlo Park


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.

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 took over the pizza-making and other food preparation duties.

"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 (sic) doors - it's important to have a variety of restaurants to choose 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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17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 11, 2019 at 10:09 am

We've been going here since we moved to Menlo Park in the mid-1980s. They've always been the best pizza in Menlo Park. Sorry to see them go, but glad that they could retire on their own terms instead of being forced out of business by greedy landlords.

12 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 11, 2019 at 12:27 pm

The Oasis and now Applewood -- many of the long time, local favorites are closing. It's too bad the owners didn't offer to sell rather than close.

Ate many a good pizza there! Thanks

6 people like this
Posted by Steve L
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jan 11, 2019 at 12:31 pm

We will miss you, Applewood! Especially your Milano pizza. Outstanding!

2 people like this
Posted by Mabe
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:07 pm

The best Milano pizza I have ever eaten. I am so sorry to see them go! No other options in that area.

6 people like this
Posted by johngslater
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:01 pm

No other pizza in the area came close.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Re: The Oasis.

The owners (a family owned corporation) of the Oasis did not want to close, but the landlord (children of the long time landlord) jacked up the rent, and tried to impose additional terms to the lease that were untenable. They would not have been able to continue to operate under the new terms, and were forced to make the difficult decision to close that location.

The owners continue to operate several other similar restaraunts throughout the south bay.

4 people like this
Posted by jo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:56 pm

This confirms it! We've been getting our Friday night pizza from Applewood since we moved to Menlo Park 11 years ago. Best pizza around, very sad to see them closed.

5 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth Ouren
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

I'm so sad! We have loved their pizza for over 20 years and it is our favorite pizza!!! I totally respect that the owner wants to retire but I wish someone would take over the space and hire the same staff to make the same pizza! Is that possible?

7 people like this
Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 11, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Friday nights with my nephews for 15 yrs has been Applewood pizza night. Last week we did Round Table- it ain’t what it used to be that’s for sure- tasted dishonest with a soft tasteless crust

Applewood will be missed, nephews have to eat lasagna tonight, maybe DiGiornio or Costco pizza next week

RIP Menlo Park, you will be missed

2 people like this
Posted by Arthur
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 11, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Sad that another local business has closed but like Nak's Oriental Market they didn't change with the times. Today's Pizza is different than that of 30 years ago. I'm surprised they stayed in business as long as they did with that heavy crust when most people prefer a thinner one. I look forward to seeing another vibrant business take over this high profile space, "the Gateway to Downtown". Nak's replacement has been great...unless you liked the easy parking in front.

6 people like this
Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Rick Moen is a registered user.

My great respects to Bela Kardos and his staff, for offering a truly great pizza for so very many years. I remember this space in its prior incarnation as a Round Table Pizza, and the two absolutely did not compare. The only nostalgia I feel over the prior business was over its Pong table, not its food.

Nagyon szépen köszönjük. (Thank you very much.)

-- Rick Moen

2 people like this
Posted by Adam
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 12, 2019 at 12:03 am

The world owes that pizza place for a lot of software written by people now considered almost celebrity famous.

The next time you reserve a "ticket on an airplane" or wait for your bank transaction, or recover in a hospital with a machine that goes bing, there's a better than good chance the software was written by someone getting a good meal at Applewood.

A great ravioli, an unusual foreign beer, a fair price, TV hanging over booths, and many years. Farewell.

p.s. one of few places where, as a foreigner, I could find dinkelacker or Optimator and no shortage of garlic on the bread.

4 people like this
Posted by Jabe
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 12, 2019 at 3:55 am

I know it’s sad to see our old businesses leave us but that place as been an eyesore on that corner for a long time! It truly needed a facelift. Although I thought their pizza was quite good I stopped going there thinking if they aren’t keeping up the outside how clean is the inside. I realize I’m in the minority but really??

Like this comment
Posted by Rip Applewood
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2019 at 7:23 am

It is sad to see this location Close. That Menlo Combo was amazing. If Could have one issue with the pizza is that the bread was sometimes very thin and it would fall apart on over the weight of the toppings. Also I Didn't work there but I think they had a turnover of Staff before the closure and The newer Staff were not as customer focused. They also closed Earlier for a pizza Location at 8:30 pm. Those 8:30p-11pm pizza making hours being closed probably make the Margins Slim.

Since the Closure, I really Enjoy " Five Star Pizza" on Willow Road Over by Facebook. I would recommend the Combination or the BBQ Maui Chicken! Its Amazing!!

Rip Applewood

6 people like this
Posted by Manlo Punk
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2019 at 8:22 am

Wow, so sad! Kens, Oasis, Foster's and now Applewood! Really sad to see these institutions fall by the way side.

Sunnyvale and probably further south, all the way up to San Mateo on El Camino Real the cities/towns are indistinguishable. No character, no "homey" feeling, just all the same kind of (ugly) development all along the way. Not to mention housing all of the same businesses. Panera, some "cool" burger joint where the burgers cost 10+, a coffee house (Peets, Starbucks), etc. It is gross, ugly.

Goodbye Menlo Park, and many others!

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2019 at 8:42 am

When things change I look to the bright side. Like Shake Shack. Great burgers. Long wait but worth it until you want to sit and eat. You’ll find tables with people sitting there and no food. Thay’re holding the table as someone in their party waits in line to order. Not nice. Oh, Applewood’s? They did make great pizzas!

4 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth Ouren
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 12, 2019 at 11:19 am

The real estate agent for the space said a new well known pizza restaurant is coming to the current Applewood space. He didn't say which one. I asked if the Applewood owner might be willing to sell his recipes and he said he might but someone would need to open an Applewood at a different location. Anyone out there interested in opening another Applewood? I hope someone is! You can see that I really do not want this to end!!

2 people like this
Posted by Robin
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 12, 2019 at 3:24 pm

So sad, my sons favorite pizza. His go to spot whenever he visited. A fam8ly favorite. Best wishes to the family on their retirement. You will be missed.

2 people like this
Posted by WWhite
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jan 12, 2019 at 3:36 pm

For years Applewood has been THE go to spot for my family and for quite a few years now, we have been dreading the day Applewood closes. That day came last Sunday when we stopped by. Felt a part of the community and our family tradition went with it. Thanks Applewood for all the wonderful memories and thanks The Almanac for letting us know what happened.

4 people like this
Posted by M Ogawa
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 12, 2019 at 4:41 pm

I've been eating Applewood since 1992. It was my go to pizza and a comfort food for me. While I understand why they needed to shutdown I wish they had sold the business to someone willing to continue the operation; the grief is real for me that they are now gone.

I wish Bela a wonderful retirement and thank you for the years of serving delicious pizza and memories to our community.


5 people like this
Posted by Dave Foster
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Applewood and the Oasis were dumps. I’m sure they looked good years ago.

7 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 13, 2019 at 5:06 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

I guess I never really noticed the dumpiness–-I was too busy washing down that decadent crust with pitchers of beer. I mean, it's a pizza parlor, not a date restaurant! We loved that corner booth by the window. The Budapest and Milano pizzas and the spinach-goat cheese salad with that addictive pesto dressing were our mainstays but now I'm regretting missing out on the goulash. Sorry to see you go, Applewood.

3 people like this
Posted by Tricia
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 20, 2019 at 3:04 pm

Rick Moen: as I recall that was never a round table pizza parlor. The original round table pizza parlor is still at its original location you’re the first republic bank. It was the first round table to ever open and I was a teenager at Menlo Atherton high school when they first opened. I remember seeing an older man with white hair tossing a pizza crust in the window. It is still there after almost 50 years. With that said Applewood was my favorite. I’ve been here since 1956 and it’s sad to see so many wonderful places close. Chantilly, John Bentleys, Naks, Oasis, Late for the Train, Yuen Yung ( how many remember that tiny little restaurant on Santa Cruz Ave. when they first opened? ) BBC, and Fosters Freeze

2 people like this
Posted by Charlotte
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2019 at 1:42 pm

I need their salad dressing recipes. Best ranch! best pesto!? Or whatever they called the green one in the goat cheese spinach salad.
We've been going there for 24 years. It'll be missed

3 people like this
Posted by TC
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 31, 2019 at 9:08 am

I believe That location was a Village Host pizza place before It was Applewood. There is still a Village Host in Belmont. The Round Table has always been in its current location. It used to be an ugly scary place when I was a kid. Remodeled in the 70’s I think.

Like this comment
Posted by Customer
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 13, 2019 at 11:22 pm

The Starbucks on El Camino (next to Lydian Academy) is permanently closed too. Anyone know when it closed and why? The doors are padlocked and there is a For Lease sign posted. It was always busy when I went there.

Like this comment
Posted by Edward
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Live on the border of MT View and Los Altos and have been coming here for years..are you kidding me? After Los Altos closed came to the next closest and now this :( Is there any other that is similar? THanks

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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