UNF alumnus trades paint for pizza, finds success at new restaurant


BY Henna Bakshi

Dina’s a hot tamale. You can’t resist her fiery presence: sizzling to the core, burning every lip she touches. She’ll leave you steaming through your head, sweating bullets of fire and still begging for more. Oh, Dina’s a dirty girl.
Dirty Dina is the spiciest of the many creative pizzas offered at the new specialty pizzeria and deli, Townies, in Fernandina Beach. David Nackashi, a UNF alumnus, partnered with friend and entrepreneur John Siefert to open the joint three months ago.
Upon entering the little pizzeria, several of Nackashi’s murals catch the eye. The fine arts graduate offered to paint murals for the restaurant, earning him a partnership with Siefert.
Robert Misso, one of three chefs at Townies, hand-tosses fresh dough into the air and catches it on his fingertips with the best of ease, creating a perfectly fluffy foundation for all its savory toppings.
“Almost everybody loves the Bonanza pizza,” Nackashi said. “It’s a great first-timer.”
Nackashi, Misso and Siefert constantly come up with new and creative recipes.
“Unlike your other pizza places, we are always experimenting with flavors,” Misso said. “Like this morning, we just happened to make a random breakfast pizza with eggs and sausage.”
The well-balanced menu of appetizers, pizzas and salads keeps the restaurant fairly busy, especially during the weekend.
The pizzeria partners have cooked up a very casual and cozy environment. Surf boards hung on the walls send waves of beach-friendly vibes and give customers a place to simply chill and chow. Townies also offers a free-to-use Apple desktop computer for playing music and movies while relaxing in the back lounge, which features a laid-back couch, bongo drums and, of course, more of Nackashi’s murals.
Nackashi now works full-time at Townies and is currently working on a brand new mural for the place.
“We do a good job putting our personalities into everything,” Nackashi said, as he gestured toward a pizza and the warm surroundings. “We try hard to give everybody what they want.”
Henna’s Review:
Chef Misso tossed down a large sample pizza featuring four different masterpieces. The 18-inch bounty of treasure arrived at the table piping hot and taunting to be devoured.
The Travolta: Covered in fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, salt, black pepper, garlic and olive oil, this pizza gave the perfect basil kick in contrast to the rest of the creamy tasting Italian ingredients.
The Mediterranean: These slices came topped with oven-roasted tomatoes and whole Kalamata olives. The ingenious combination and olive oil base shared with the Travolta gave both these pizzas the true gourmet experience.
The Bonanza: This pizza could not be named anything but. A bacon-lover’s delight, this came well-topped with Townies’ special ranch, bacon, chicken, white cheddar, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, black pepper and fresh basil. My personal favorite out of the four tried.
The Dirty Dina: Aka the underground secret. This pizza isn’t listed on the menu but only known through whispers of those who have dared to ask for and try it. It comes topped with a base coating of Townies’ special hot sauce, bleu cheese, onions, sliced meatballs, and as far as my taste buds can remember, some more wonderful hot sauce. The meat balls added just the right amount of texture to the soft base. Bleu cheese seemed to cool the burning of the sauce, without diminishing it. This melody of flavors is sure to send anyone jumping off their seat.

Townies is hosting a concert Oct. 10 called the Towniepalooza. Join them for amazing food, fun and games right in the pizzeria’s back yard. For more information call 904-277-4755.