New Valley Eatery Invites Families to Share in its Mission: Eat Pizza. Save Puppies!

Pizza to the Rescue opened in April on Indian School Road.

Hunter Rodgers grew up in Phoenix and worked at Vincent’s on Camelback during high school and college. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and worked in investment banking before returning to the Valley to work in brand strategy. 

It wasn’t until a few years ago – when the world was put on hold – that Hunter came up with a new idea. One that focused on pizza…and puppies. 

Hunter’s longtime girlfriend, Geri Hormel, founded Almost There Pet Rescue on Indian School Road. The business started out of a home in 2013 but officially moved to its facility in 2020. The property has three buildings – the largest is home to the rescue, but the others sat empty for a while until the duo came up with Pizza to the Rescue (PTTR). 

Hunter Rodgers and Geri Hormel. Photo courtesy of Joslynn Miller

“We purchased the building in 2019. As Geri and I walked through it, we started recognizing the possibilities, and it was like, ‘Okay, this needs to be a restaurant,'” Hunter said. 

Coming up with the idea was easy. However, getting the restaurant up and running took a bit more time. 

“Starting a project in the middle of a pandemic was a nightmare. The City of Phoenix was so backed up with everything, it took us 18 months to get the permit to start renovations,” Hunter said. “The easiest thing to get was our liquor license.” 

The restaurant officially opened in April 2024. Hunter said the wait was worth the result. Pizza to the Rescue’s mission statement is “eat pizza, save puppies,” and in that spirit, 25 percent of proceeds from pizza sales go toward Almost There Pet Rescue.

The menu includes appetizers, pizzas, pasta and desserts. Terra Farms (out of Prescott) provides the beef, while other local purveyors provide produce and other ingredients. The dishes are Italian American-based, and all of them are wood-fired. Everything is made from scratch, by hand, every day – even the mozzarella cheese. The pizzas are individual-sized, what Hunter calls a hybrid of Neapolitan and New York-style pies. 

The pizzas are handmade and cooked in a wood-fired oven built specifically for PTTR. Photo courtesy of Joslynn Miller

“The menu was born out of my passion for cooking with incredible ingredients – it’s stuff I’d make for my family and friends,” he said. 

The wood-fired oven is a thing of beauty. It weighs almost 10,000 pounds and was built specifically for PTTR by Stefano Ferrara, an oven manufacturer in Naples, Italy. There are only two others like it worldwide.

The vibe inside PTTR is “unexpected.”

 “You hear ‘Pizza to the Rescue,’ and you might picture a no-frills pizza spot. It’s a goofy name,” Hunter said. “But the inside is eclectic, with a funky Spanish/Mediterranean influence.” 

The cocktail menu includes 75 wines – 65 direct from Italy – and 150 spirits, focusing on tequila, mezcal, scotch, rum, bourbon and Japanese whiskey. 

The Perro Caliente Margarita is one of six specialty cocktails on the menu at PTTR. Photo courtesy of Joslynn Miller

The signature drinks are inspired by cocktails Hunter tried during his travels, but he also included classic drinks like an old-fashioned and an Aperol spritz. Four beers are on draft: Peroni, Scottsdale Blonde and Tower Station (a nod to Arizona!), and a dark hefeweizen direct from Germany—Hunter’s favorite brew. 

“It was fun to build out the list and put something together that’s exciting and unique,” he said. “We approached the drinks the same way as the food – everything made by hand. The citrus is juiced daily, and syrups are made in-house.”

Perhaps the biggest draw – aside from the food, of course – is the puppies. Tuesday through Saturday, volunteers from Almost There hang out on the restaurant’s lawn from 5-7:30 p.m. with puppies that are available (or going to be) for adoption. Hunter said the rescue is the whole reason they do what they do:

“We so love the support we see for the dogs,” he said. “With 25 percent of pizza sales going to Almost There, we’ve already donated $200-$500 a night toward the rescue. We’re passionate about food, dining, service and the neighborhood, but also about dogs. We want to be the most dog-friendly restaurant, as far as the health codes allow us to be.”

On Tuesdays, the eatery hosts trivia, and Wednesday is Spaghetti Western Day, when guests can get a dry-aged Japanese wagyu cut of beef cooked over a live fire. The patio area has music and misters and can accompany live music in the future. 

“This experience has been really fun,” Hunter said. “I’m excited to see happy customers and kids and get amazing feedback on the food and atmosphere. I love feeding people and am happy when they enjoy their experience.”

The eatery is located at 2601 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. For more information, visit

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