Is it a pizza? Is it a taco? New Pasco restaurant features Italian-Mexican mash-up

Merced Flores learned the art of Italian cooking in a North Carolina restaurant, picking it up from its Napolese owner.

When the post-9/11 recession hit and jobs dried up, Flores and his wife, Irma Cortes, and their children moved to Pasco to be closer to her family.

Flores took up agricultural field work, but, missing the kitchen, ventured back into food.

“I’ve got ideas. I want to make pizzas,” he recalled.

He started with a taco shell business, leasing kitchen space from a friend. He used the proceeds to establish a taco truck on Road 68.

Now, he’s united his love for Italian and Mexican fare into a unique new venue: Mercy’s Pizza Taco.

The family spent more than a year transforming the former Pik A Pop convenience store into a cozy restaurant with fully equipped kitchens — one for pizza and one for everything else.

The pizza station is visible from both the dining area and the street. That’s deliberate.

“You can see me from everywhere,” Flores said.

Merced Flores tosses pizza crust at Mercy’s Pizza Taco in Pasco. Wendy Culverwell Tri-City Herald

Mercy’s, at 524 N. Third, looks directly into Pasco City Hall across the street.

City hall, with its cadre of employees, was part of the lure. So was nearby Lourdes Medical Center and the Franklin County Courthouse, across Pioneer Park. All are employment centers with lots of visitors, some of them hungry.

“This is a good place,” he said. Flores and his wife are running the business with help from their youngest, Leo, a senior at Pasco High School.

The menu ranges from traditional offerings from both sides of the house.

The Italian side features spaghetti, ziti, fettuccine and caprese salads. The Mexican one offers tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tortas.

But it really shines when Flores combines the two.

For Mercy’s, he created an “adobado” pizza — a Mexican-flavored pizza in an Italian setting.

Mercy’s Pizza Taco created the “adovado” pizza, blending beans, cheese, onions, cilantro, salsa, radishes and lime on a traditional pizza crust.

He starts with a homemade and hand-tossed pizza crust, then tops it with beans and salsa, meat and cheese. After it comes out of the oven, Flores garnishes it with onion, cilantro, radishes and slices of lime for squeezing.

Flores said the radish serves the same purpose as a taco chip — diners can use them to scoop up the toppings they like.

There are plenty of standard pizza offerings as well, from Canadian bacon and pineapple to pepperoni and veggies.

Mercy’s offers eat-in or take out service. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Follow it on Facebook @MercyPizzaTaco.

Mercy’s Pizza Taco opened Oct. 31 at the former Pik-a-Pop, 524 N. Third, by Pasco City Hall.

Roasters gives back

Locally-owned Roasters Coffee donated the proceeds from its Oct. 29 Community Giving Day promotion to My Friend’s Place, a Kennewick youth shelter.

Roasters donated $3,194, representing profits from all drinks sold during the event.

Wait in line, without standing in line

Nation’s Restaurant News reports Yelp is debuting a new feature that will allow users of its app to put their name on the waiting list for participating restaurants before they head out.

Nowait On My Way is a complement to the Nowait Kiosk, technology that allows diners to register for the waiting list, then receive alerts through their phones.

Have dining news to share? Call or message me.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell