This year we’re expanding our education program to include more than 85 business-boosting seminars, demonstrations WRITTEN BY
and workshops. We’ve Bill Oakley also added several new industry speakers who will address the hot-button issues facing @PizzaExpo pizzeria operators today.
In the current environment, it’s more important than ever to discover new, innovative ways to boost profits and improve efficiencies. How to implement a winning social media strategy to maximize exposure and generate bottom-line results? How to make the most from your online and delivery orders? How to build a profitable craft beer program? At this year’s International Pizza Expo, you’ll find solutions to these problems and more.
Designed for pizzeria owners and operators, Pizza Expo is an all-industry event, whether you’re a veteran or just opening your first store. Can you imagine a show floor larger than five football fields with nothing but pizza-related goods, equipment and services? International Pizza Expo—the “Show of Shows” for the pizza industry—is THE place to do business, learn, network and deal.
Do you feel the need to compete? I know you think your pizza is the best … and here’s your chance to prove it by competing in the International Pizza Challenge™. This year we’ll again have competitions for traditional and non-traditional pizzas, as well as deep-dish and Italian-style pies. The four division winners will then compete against each other to determine the “Pizza Maker of the Year.”We’ve also invited back four of our past world champions—Theo Kalogeracos, Tony Palombino, Carmelo Oliveri and last year’s winner Shawn Randazzo—to compete in a blind-box competition to see who will be crowned the “Master Pizza Maker of the Year.”
This year we’ll have over $50,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs. If you’re interested, don’t delay; there are limited entries in each division. And that’s not all: Energy and excitement will abound when the World Pizza Champions™ and the World Pizza Games® take center stage. Contestants will be able to compete in up to five events, including freestyle acrobatics, fastest dough, largest stretch, fastest box folding and, new in 2013, the pizza triathlon. Each event winner will take home $1,000. We’re also going to have another pizza box contest. If you think yours is one of the best, please make sure to bring a sample with you. Who knows, you might take home $500 and bragging rights.
Last but not least, at the close of the show on Thurs., March 21, one lucky pizzeria owner will walk away with $20,000 in cold, hard cash by participating in the $20,000 MEGA BUCKS Giveaway™! Remember, you can’t win, if you don’t enter—and you won’t win if you’re not present.
If you haven’t already registered to attend, call (800) 489-8324 and do so now. Or, better yet, pre-register online at PizzaExpo.com and SAVE $10. For those of you who have already made plans to attend the industry’s premier annual event, it’s a good idea to start planning your show strategy now: Map out a list of education seminars to attend and start thinking about questions to ask at the Beer & Bull™ Idea Exchange.
Please take a few minutes now to review the attendee brochure mailed with this issue or visit our website for a detailed listing of exhibiting companies, seminars and demonstrations. If you’ve seen or read about a product or service you’d like to have for your pizzeria, then chances are you’ll find it on our show floor. Did I mention we have more than 40 new exhibiting companies that have already signed up for this year’s show?
I guarantee attending Expo will be the single best investment of time and money you’ll make in the next year, or we’ll refund your registration fee.
Also, remember that International Pizza Expo is a tax-deductible working vacation.
See you in Las Vegas!
Executive Vice President
Learn dough inside and out by taking a look at our extensive Dough Doctor achieve at pizzatoday.com/lehmann
Big Dave’s Word
From cheese prices to new year strategies, Big Dave has you covered at pizzatoday.com/big-dave-ostrander
Denver Pizza Company
Opt in with our Text Message service to get our Buy 1,Get 1 Free Denver Pizza Co offer (limit 1 per household).Text 71441 code: DPC
Why it works: Text messaging is an emerging form of advertising, but many customers guard their mobile numbers jealously. By promoting a text offer, you’re gaining customers who WANT in on your offers –– just don’t sell your advertising lists and protect the data you collect.
Upper Crust Pizzeria
It’s #manicmonday. 50% off order (up to $10 off ) when you sing the chorus twice of one of the two artists of the week. Dine-in or takeout.
Why it works: How fun is this promotion? We’re not sure how customers find out who the featured artists are, but 50-percent off is a great motivator for most folks to ask. It also encourages customers to order on Monday, a typically slow day in the industry.
FACEBOOK OF PIZZA FEEDS
OBO Pizza 1/2 OFF all Large SPECIALTY Pizzas every Tuesday for the month of October at ALL of our locations. Waldorf, La Plata, and Indian Head. Offer is valid for Pick up, Delivery, or Dine in! Treat your self to a REAL BRICK OVEN BAKED PIZZA for 1/2 the price on Large every TUESDAY!!!!!!! www.obopizza. com or call !!!
Why it works: This Facebook post hits all the right notes. OBO uses it on Tuesdays to boost sales on a slow night, lets customers know they offer it at all their locations, adds in the Web site and includes pick-up, delivery and dine-in. Posting it every week will reinforce the deal in customers’ memories.
Pizza Shuttle Cookie Monster Deal
Medium 3 topping pizza, 2 chocolate chip cookies, and 2 sodas for $10! Monday 10/8- Saturday 10/13 Dine-in, Pick-up, Delivery
Why it works: This is a heckuva deal! Dinner, dessert and drinks for a low price and it’s available for delivery? What a steal. Putting a LTO on the deal will let Pizza Shuttle gauge its success.
Photos by Josh Keown
For the most part, suppliers are not keen on pricing with a loose group of independents. They are looking for groups that have been around for a while and have the authority to speak/represent their respective groups. What you are referring to is what is called a Prime Vendor Agreement. All chains purchase 85-plus percent of their food from one supplier. In effect, this allows the supplier to enter into the agreement and charge less margin. The way they look at it goes like this: “Would I rather make 18-percent margin on a third of spotty business, or would I rather make 13 percent on all of the business, week in and week out?”
If you are a good prospective customer you can enter into your own Prime Vendor Agreement with your current suppliers. I have written and given numerous seminars on the subject. I also have assisted many of my single-unit clients in establishing their own contracts with suppliers. Once the new prices kick in, a 5-percent or better drop in pricing typically occurs.
This is how it works. First, you compose a letter and mail it to all suppliers that could service you and with which you are comfortable doing business. This letter invites the supplier to bid on your purchases using a cost-plus system. At that time you will honestly describe several important things to the supplier.
They will want to know:
- How many deliveries will you require a week?
- What sort of credit terms do you desire –– COD, 7-days or 14-days, electronic payment, credit card, etc.?
- How will you place your order and how much lead time will you want? Internet, phone, in person to DSR, etc.
- Will you allow automatic substitutions if they are out of stock on specific items?
- What time do you want the delivery?
- Is your business seasonal?
All of the above factors are important in determining how much it costs to service your account. If you lower the cost of doing business with you, you deserve lower pricing. If you are unorganized, don’t have the order placed before cut off time, bounce checks, and give away business to their competitors who come in and quote lowball prices to get your business, they won’t be interested in being your supplier/partner. On the other hand, if you are loyal and easy to do business with, you are what they are looking for.
I assure you that if you meet the above criteria this system will work for you. It is a two-way street with requirements on both the buyer and seller. These agreements are cancellable by either party with two week’s notice and allow you to do spot check audits of their costs from their suppliers to guarantee they are actually pricing your ingredients on a true cost-plus percentage basis.
For the most part, this is how the majority of big chains purchase their food items. It lowers their overall food cost percentages in the long run.
The last 15 years I owned Big Dave’s Pizza & Subs I never asked my sales rep the cost of cheese. When you think about it, the rep has the least amount of power in the entire organization. He or she has a laptop that is programmed with the least amount they can charge for items before they have to do some fancy explaining to their boss or the company buyer if they override the pricing bracket. My system takes the adversarial component out of purchasing. Every Friday, I looked up the block price of cheese and then added our pre-agreed “cost plus XYZ pennies over block”, and that figure is what showed up on my invoice.
This is a simplistic description, but you get the point.
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the amount of support Pizza Today readers provided to Slice of Hope this year. The event grew by leaps and bounds in its second installment thanks to the involvement of more than 200 pizzerias nationwide.
In 2011, the inaugural Slice of Hope generated $105,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. In 2012, we’re going to blow well past that figure. As of this writing, more than $90,000 has already come in — and we still have a long list of donors who have yet to send in their pledges!
So, from the bottom of my heart, please accept my most sincere thanks. For those of you who cared enough to get involved, I truly appreciate your efforts.
I’d particularly like to point out the efforts of three pizzerias — Aldo’s Ristorante in Naples, Florida; Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Seattle and LaMotta’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Fort Myers, Florida.
Tutta Bella’s four stores banded together and heavily promoted Slice of Hope for over a month. The astounding result? $25,000 raised for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation!
In Fort Myers, LaMotta’s provided the Slice of Hope cycling crew with a much-needed reception during the tour. Owner Carmello LaMotta provided us with enough carbohydrates to fuel Tour de France riders … and enough tasty pink Muscato wine to help us sleep well! We had a great, relaxing time at LaMotta’s. The hospitality was unparalleled and appreciated more than he will ever know.
Finally, what can I say about Kelly and Aldo Musico, owners of Aldo’s Ristorante in Naples? They hosted the primary Slice of Hope fundraising party on Friday, October 12, and they really set the bar high for any future party hosts. Kelly took her task of planning this party uber-seriously. She began preparations six months ago and her hard work paid off in a major way. You had to see it to believe it, but it was nothing short of amazing. More than 1,000 people showed up to attend the party and support Slice of Hope by purchasing food, t-shirts and tickets to a spectrum of activities that ranged from face painting for the kids to massage therapy at a nearby salon for adults. When all was said and done, this one small pizza shop in Florida managed to raise a whopping $25,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation!
Kelly is amazing, and she did this for all the right reasons. It wasn’t a marketing gimmick to her. It was a genuine way to express compassion and contribute to the greater good of American society. But one thing that quickly became apparent to me during her Slice of Hope party is that her business will reap benefits from the event for years to come. That one night positioned Aldo’s as a caring, giving community leader. Time and again I spoke with people who had never previously dined at Aldo’s. They were so impressed with the event and the generosity that they proclaimed themselves loyal customers going forward. As a result of Kelly supporting her community through Slice of Hope, her community is in turn supporting her right back. This is how a good thing can become good business, and seeing it play out live was fascinating.
Here’s to Kelly and every other pizzeria in the U.S. who gets it.
Jeremy White, editor-in-chief
What’s in a name? — The name was thought up by my wife, Jessica. We had come up with a gold shield logo, which is what I used to carry on me as a New York City Paramedic. My NYC Shield number was 7113, which is used in the logo. The “1” in the circle shows which store number we are, because we believed from day one that we would eventually open up more stores or franchise our concept. After looking at my badge, we changed “Emergency Medical Services” to “Emergency Pizza Services,” changed the “State of New York” to “State of Hunger,” and changed the center NY crest to a crest with Jessica and I holding a pizza box.
When I see the logo, it often reminds me of my time as a New York City EMT and paramedic. I worked for 50V, the busiest 911 ambulance in all of New York City. It was an exciting job and one that I took as an honor to serve the citizens of NYC.
The biggest memory that the Precinct Pizza (PP) shield invokes for me is my son. He was 15 months old on 9/11. My wife did not know where I was for the majority of that day, and I told her that I had to go there. I was on my way to one of my EMT jobs when the first plane hit. I called her and told her to wake up and turn the TV on. I returned a bit after midnight that day to a very scared wife. I had to take my clothes off in the backyard before entering the house because I smelled so bad from all the dust and debris. But the strongest memory for me was watching my 15-month-old son just crawling around the room as happy as he could be, oblivious to the life-changing event that had just occurred, while my wife and I just hugged and cried. I will never forget that.
I am New York born & raised — moved to Florida in 2005, when I was 37.
New York pizza is the only pizza I know, and as far as I am concerned, the only real pizza style. Precinct Pizza is the New York Pizza Authority!
There is never a cold spot in our (rotating) oven. Because ours rotates, no one can put the pizza in the same spot. It also makes sure that the pizza gets an even bake. Because there are four decks, the pizza maker loads on the top one first, then as that one fills up, they go to the second one, and so on. By the time you go through to the fourth deck, the pies from the top are finished, taken out, and they can reheat up again. It is great for a high volume store like ours.
We have had a great deal of interest in franchising our concept, but we do not believe that we are ready yet. Several people have been waiting, but they must be patient, and remain on hold until we finish our franchising design and infrastructure. My wife, Jessica, and I want to make sure that everything is perfect before we replicate our concept.
We have many training manuals done, but still have a few more to finish. When we do offer PP for franchising, we will be sure that PP will have everything done to ensure the greatest possibility for success. We will offer in-store training on not just making the food as we want, but training on food ordering, squad scheduling, accounting, profit and loss analysis, vendor and landlord negotiations, squad training, marketing, customer retention, food handling, and many other topics. The goal of PP is to have everything ready to offer franchises by the end of 2013.
Photos by Josh Keown
Q: Can you tell me how to make a light textured pan-style pizza?
A: This is getting to be a more frequent request all the time. For many operators, thin-crust pizza has been their mainstay. But now it appears that more and more customers are requesting a thicker version of their longtime favorite, leaving some operators asking: “How do I do that?” It seems that for some, the answer was to just double up on the dough weight for the crust and call it good, but this appears to miss the customer expectations as they want something lighter to eat. This takes us to the need to proof the dough, or allow it to rise in the pan for a period of time before dressing and baking the pizza. But now this brings us to another dilemma: once the dough is proofed in the pan, it must be used within a relatively short period of time or the dough can over proof and collapse under the weight of the toppings. The answer to this is to manage the thick crust dough from the retarder/ cooler. To do this effectively we need to begin with the dough formulation. I’m showing a dough formulation as an example of what this dough might look like. you can use the formulation shown below, or you can modify your existing dough formulation.
Flour (11.2 to 12.8 percent protein content):
100 percent Salt:
1.75 percent Sugar:
2 percent Oil/Shortening:
2 percent Yeast: (IDY: 0.25 percent);
(ADY: .375 percent);
(Fresh/ Compressed: .75 percent)
Water (70 F): 55 percent
Note: Ingredient amounts are shown in baker’s percent, with the weight of each ingredient expressed as a percentage of the total flour weight.
The dough can be mixed and managed in the same manner as your thin crust dough, but when the dough goes into the pan, this is where the differences show up.
To make a pan style or deep-dish pizza, place the dough into an oiled or greased dark-colored baking pan and then cover it and set it aside to proof/rise. If the dough will be used
soon after proofing, it can be given full proof, meaning that the dough can be proofed to something between two and three times its thickness when placed in the pan and then dressed and baked.
For most of us though, this will prove to be problematic as we try to maintain a working inventory of dough throughout the day. To address this, we can allow the dough to proof/rise to no more than 75 to 100 percent of its thickness when initially panned. The dough is then taken to the cooler and placed into a tree rack for thorough cooling. During this time, it will continue to proof/rise until fermentation is arrested by the temperature of the cooler. The pans of dough can now be covered to prevent drying. Typically, this takes about an hour in the cooler to accomplish. we can then cover the dough by placing a plastic bag over the tree rack. In this condition, the dough can normally be held in the cooler for up to 24 to 36 hours.
To use, remove a pan of dough from the cooler, dress it to the order and bake. Because this dough may be colder than your normal dough, it might be necessary to adjust the baking time and/or temperature slightly for thick crust pizzas when managed in this manner. If you use a deck oven, I’ve found it useful to begin baking these pizzas with an aluminum screen under the pan for the first two to three minutes, and then finish baking directly on the oven hearth as this allows the dough portion to warm more gradually, thus reducing the potential for bubble formation during baking. If you’re using an air impingement oven and have more than one deck, I would suggest trying to dedicate one of the decks to thick crust pizza production by lowering the temperature to 425 to 440 F, while extending the baking time to ensure a thoroughly baked pizza (typically 8 to 10 minutes). That colder dough just needs a little more time to get thoroughly baked.
In case you’re wondering how much dough to use when making a thick crust pizza, a general rule is to increase the dough scaling weight by approximately 25 percent. Thick crust pizzas can help to improve your bottom line too. When you consider that the only real difference between a thin crust and thick crust pizza is in the amount of dough used for the crust, and that dough is probably your cheapest “ingredient”, if you sell a 12-inch thick crust pizza for a premium, your actual cost was only about five cents more. Rack up that 95-cent profit to the extra handling needed for the thick crust pizza.
Q: How can we make a great tasting, healthier option to our regular pizza crust?
A: I was recently on an assignment where that very same question was asked. I normally suggest a multigrain type crust. But in this case, we couldn’t get a multi-grain blend so we had to make our own from ingredients available at the local supermarket. To make our own multi-grain blend we purchased a bag of whole-wheat flour, old fashioned oatmeal, flax seeds and sunflower seeds. Using their regular thin crust dough formula, I replaced 25 percent of the flour with our home brewed multi-grain blend, consisting of 100 percent wholewheat flour, 17.6 percent oatmeal, 17.6 percent flax seeds and 17.6 percent sunflower seeds. This was combined in a bus tub where we added an equal weight of warm (90F) water and stirred the mix just to allow for hydration. It was set aside and allowed to hydrate for one hour. The hydrated multi-grain mix was added to the mixer along with the remainder of the dough ingredients. (Note: The dough water was reduced to 37 percent of the weight of white flour added. The hydrated multi-grain blend was added as an ingredient in this application).
The dough was mixed for 75 percent of the regular dough mixing time. It was then immediately taken to the bench for scaling and balling. We adjusted the scaling weights 15 percent heavier to allow for the multi-grain blend in the dough. From this point on, the dough was managed in the same manner as their regular pizza dough. The resulting pizza crusts had a wonderfully nutty flavor and slightly rough appearance that was well received by their customers.
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
Photos by Rick Daugherty
Drive up the Virginia beach coast, and just about every block is peppered with at least one pizzeria, full-service restaurant, bar and shake shack. That’s a lot of white noise to wade through, but Pi-zzeria, with sales at $1.2 million annually, seems to have found its voice. The full-service pizzeria launched in 2003 is part of the gold Key/ Phr hotels & resorts development group, which houses eight different restaurants under its umbrella.
“We didn’t want to do your ordinary pizza,” says Chuck sass, vice president of food and beverage. ”We wanted to do something different … That would be suitable for the visitor market being that we are a resort visitor town, but that would also differentiate ourselves to attract the locals. A lot of the pizza restaurants close at the end of the season.
We wanted to (operate) year-round. “For our portfolio, we found that (pizza) was one of the things that was missing, and at the end of the day, one of the big drivers was the profitability in terms of food costs. Being able to support oceanfront rent requires a year-long business. You have to be profitable to be down in this area.”
Standing out is key for any restaurant’s success, but for Pi-zzeria, it is crucial. “On the oceanfront, there are 15 different pizzerias, and that’s just from 1st street all the way down to 35th,” says Scott Farrar, director of seasonal outlets for parent company Phr. “Most of them are your walk-in, fast-casual (to-go) places. One of the things about us is that we are truly a sit-down, dine-in restaurant. We’re very kid friendly but we’re adult friendly as well –– everything from the design and layout to the way we handle our guests when they come in the door.
“We give all of the kids who come in dough balls to play with, we have Pi-zzeria tattoos –– we’re just a little bit different from your standard restaurant. They don’t just walk in and we give them a piece of paper and some crayons.”
The restaurant employs about 50 people, “and all cooks have been cross-trained and can cook all stations,” Farrar says. while they have dedicated pizzaiolos, most employees can work the pizza station if needed.
Although the restaurant is backed by the buying power of its corporate brand, it still operates on an independent basis. Dough and sauces are made in-house, and the company puts its chefs center stage. “We have an exhibition kitchen right here facing Atlantic Avenue so that the people who walk by can see it,” says Farrar. “We have the only rotating brick stone oven at the beach, which gives us another (point) of differentiation between (us) and our competitors.” Nearly 80 percent of sales are pizza based, but “we have a good variety of pasta dishes, different sandwiches, multiple salad offerings –– we have pretty extensive menu offerings for a pizzeria.”
To help keep food costs down, the company installed an automated inventory and cost control system that helped shave 4½ percent off their food costs. “we know, for example, if we buy 100 pounds of pepperoni during a given week and we sell a certain amount of the pizzas that we’re supposed to, we can nail it down to the specific cook who might be putting on too many,” Sass says.
Farrar estimates that nearly half of pizzas sold are traditional one-toppings — but Pi-zzeria have more than 22 specialty pizzerias on their menu. “The selection that you’ll find as far as specialty pizzas is far greater than anything you’ll find down here on the oceanfront,” Farrar says.
The top-selling specialty pizza is the Chicken bacon ranch (pepper fried chicken, bacon, ranch dressing and mozzarella) and the gorgonzola (artichokes, spinach, roma tomatoes, pine nuts, red onions, chicken and gorgonzola cheese). The latter “is something that we’re known for,” Farrar adds. “it’s something that you won’t find anywhere else around here.”The East Coast Hawaiian style (slow-roasted barbeque pork, grilled pineapple, mozzarella and apple-smoked bacon) has also been a longtime menu staple.
Adding a small 6-inch pizza has helped increase specialty pizza sales because “where typically you and i might split one type of pizza, now we can have our own individual pizzas,” Sass says. The restaurant does not deliver aside from two hotel properties, but sass says local delivery is in Pi-zzeria’s business plan for 2013. “The reason that we don’t do delivery now is that at 7:30 at night, there’s a line out the door,” he says. “we’re at capacity in terms of our oven space.”
Aside from the food, alcohol makes up nearly 25 percent of sales. “In terms of alcohol-to-food ratios out of all of our restaurants, it is the lowest, which you would expect in a family friendly atmosphere,” Sass says. Sangria is the restaurant’s signature drink and is made in-house, with three varieties (white, red and a blush) offered by the glass and carafe daily. It’s so popular that it can comprise nearly 50 percent of alcohol sales. “You see a tray coming out with four glasses and a carafe, and the next thing you know the whole restaurant wants to order it,” Farrar says.
Still, beer and traditional wines are more popular than hard liquor. “We have a decent selection of bottled beers as well as three different beers on tap,” Farrar adds. “We sell frozen drinks as well being that we’re on the beach. Single liquor drinks is probably the least in terms of sales that we do.”
Pi-zzeria handles marketing strategetically — it accounts for nearly three percent of the restaurant’s budget — and its primary target are the nearly 500 hotel rooms under the parent company’s hospitality wing. “We own the rooms, and it’s really the lowest hanging fruit that we have,” Sass says. “we also have five other resorts in which we market in the rooms.”
They also advertise in the abundance of visitors’ guides that line the hotel lobbies and local sidewalks, which is their most effective marketing tool. “You almost have to be in the guidebooks,” Sass says. “with the economy, the visitors are looking for a bargain.” (Pizzeria’s buy one, get one half-off a large pizza is the most effective campaign.)
While the majority of advertising is geared toward visitors in the summer, the focus in the off-season is on attracting locals. That includes utilizing social media and building sponsorships with local sports teams. “We measure the effectiveness of our marketing programs by each specific campaign, and we review and critique that for the following years,” Sass adds.
The company is looking at expansion for the Pi-zzeria brand, and “if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it all out,” Sass says. They are actively looking at growth on the oceanfront but also via catering, which will require more labor and oven-capacity.
They would like to open a store at the south end of the beach and another in the central part, which will give them full coverage for delivery.
The key, says Farrar, will be consistency. “This restaurant, you can come in and i don’t care if it’s December or July, if there (are) two people in here or 200, you’re going to order something and it’s going to come out the same way every time. We have people who come down here every year besides our local clientele that have been coming here since 2003 specifically because of our consistency.”
That relentless quality control is what helps Pi-zzeria succeed on a daily basis. says Sass: “With the increasing quality of the chain brands –– and they’re getting better and better, and cheaper and cheaper –– you’ve got to deliver an overall experience versus just good pizza … it’s delivering the whole package.”
Mandy Detwiler is managing editor of Pizza Today.
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SLICE OF HOPE
We had our Slice of hope Party on Friday, october 12th.
Fun was had by all. We had a lot of door prizes and a lot of information on breast cancer to pass out. We had our pink cake and cupcakes. .. hayley Watson was our entertainment. The crew all came together and worked together for a very worthy cause.
Pull us up on Facebook to see all the pictures and info ... We had our local TV station, WhIZ TV, in for some filming for our 6 & 11pm local news regarding the fundraiser... It was a great community effort...
Thanks for the note. Slice of hope 2012 was a huge success! We’re still hearing from pizzerias across the country as they send in their donations, but we’ve already raised more money this year than we did last year for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation — and more than 50 pizzerias are yet to send in their donations! It was truly a spectacular year. Together, we are making a difference. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support!
What To Say?
Ok, I need your professional, expert, intelligent, clever advice for my inquiry. We are looking to purchase a pizzeria currently operating. Since this will be a 2nd location for us, we plan to bring over our name and food, but keep the same phone number that the current owner is using. So I ask you, how do I answer the telephone on opening day under our ownership?
Do I open with our name and follow with “Formally aBC Pizza,” how can I help you? Do I just want to stick with our name? obviously, I don’t want people to think they dialed the wrong number and hang-up.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Rita Pia’s Pizzaria
Edward, what do we say? We’re flattered …
We’d advise you to go with just mentioning your name and immediately following that with a call to action. It will put the customer on the spot to answer back right away and you’ll never have to mention the other place.
“Thank you for calling Rita Pia’s on 4th Street, would you like to try an order of our delicious garlic knots today for just $2.99?”
Since it is your second location, we would also advocate throwing in the “on 4th Street” (whatever street you are on ... you get the point!) so that people don’t think they errantly reached your other location. Good luck. Let us know how it works out.
Photos by Scott Weiner
Lower Manhattan is a ghost town. Century-old trees are uprooted, the world’s most incredible public transportation system has ground to a halt and power is out — not just in some buildings, but everywhere south of 28th Street. As I write this, New York is just days removed from the landfall of Hurricane Sandy. Most residents and businesses have remained closed, but several pizzerias have figured out how to keep the lights on both literally and figuratively.
The first challenge for powerless pizzerias is how to make dough without a working mixer. Some went back in time and whipped up batches by hand. A beautiful photo quickly made the rounds on Twitter of Motorino’s Mathieu Palombino, hands deep in a flour trench filled with yeast-clouded water. Employees at Pizza Box on Bleecker Street were proud of their handmade dough, especially because they had never attempted it over decades of pizza making.
Others were fortunate enough to have access to kitchens in electrified parts of the city. I saw Roberto Caporuscio getting out of a taxi with two bags of vegetables and a stack of dough trays. He was transporting supplies from the refrigerator at Don Antonio in the Theater District to his powerless Greenwich Village pizzeria, Keste. A similar task was necessary for Forcella’s Giulio Adriani, who carted dough from his location in Brooklyn to the one in Manhattan. Newcomer Cowboy Pizza in the Lower East Side made trips to Long Island for access to a working mixer at a friend’s pizzeria, even though road and bridge closures made the drive interminable.
Even with mixed dough in hand, the problem of storing it without refrigeration remained. The storm brought a cold front to New York so overnight temperatures are low enough for dough trays to be stored outside. Pizza makers had to tweak their dough formulas to compensate for slightly warmer ambient temperature but I found the slightly softer crust texture to be a welcome change.
Heating ovens is no challenge for pizzerias whose central piece of equipment is fueled by wood, coal or natural gas, but operating them safely with minimal light is another story. Joe’s in Greenwich Village created a system of flashlights taped to poles to provide oven lighting. Percy’s lit its tiny counter by candlelight. Lombardi’s probably had the most complex setup, with a series of car batteries powering lights in the kitchen, dining room and even a couple for the sign outside. Most pizzerias are avoiding the lighting issue altogether by restricting service to take-out and delivery.
No matter what obstacles are placed before them, these pizzerias found solutions. Beyond just being a business, you’re part of a community that depends on you for comfort food in times of need. Seeing how these pizzerias have gone out of their way to serve their neighbors has been a great testament to the resilience and dependability of the pizza industry. Just think about what you would do in an emergency situation so people like me can turn to you for the comfort of a warm slice.u
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
Photos by Josh Keown
Are you a team player or do you just talk a good game? Pizzerias have found that being involved with local sports is a way to score with the community.
Today’s world takes effort to keep young people on the right track, and participation in extracurricular activities gets them off the couch and teaches them many valuable life lessons. First & Ten clubs, Band Parent Associations, Little leagues … organizations of this ilk all need to earn money to make sports fun and interesting. A senior jersey for a high school football player can cost $75. It took an extra $800 to provide the necessary refreshments for a 2-week varsity football camp. Banquets, trophies and trips are usually not budgeted for by a school district. These non-profit groups need a partner to help finance these significant items.
Can you “step up to the plate” and be a friend to programs like these? Can you do this and still run a profitable business? Yes! This falls within the “Local Store Marketing” category. Assisting groups to raise money will raise money for you, too. This aspect goes beyond a donation or sponsorship and forms a solid symbiotic relationship.
What are the benefits? The obvious one is an increase in sales. During fall months when I do the majority of my concession sales, for example, that extra few hundred dollars a week is icing on the cake. As I generate goodwill, people talk. Soccer moms tend to have more than one child, and the children are often involved in more than one activity. Your concession sales will have a snowball effect. While you usually have to offer special pricing for concession sales, never view this as a discount — these are marketing dollars spent wisely. No matter what price you charge, the group will charge more, so the perceived value of your product is never questioned. As your product is featured at events you gain top of mind awareness. You also get new people trying your pizza and liking it. The goodwill generates new and loyal customers. For my pizzeria this has become a long-term strategy. During my 18 years in business I have watched as young people “grow up” on my pizza and then come back as adults to feed their families.
How do you get in the game? First, be seen in your community by attending events. Get to know your customers and your employees. Ask yourself what they and their families are involved in.
By utilizing your existing circle of associates, you can connect with the decision maker of the group and get your foot in the door of concession stands. A locally owned and operated pizzeria will have the home field advantage. Once you develop a competitive pricing structure that is mutually beneficial, you need to back it up with service that shows you value this relationship. Sporting events can be time sensitive, so focus on making sure each order is punctual and accurate.
This could help put you in a league of your own.
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.
Like all parents, my wife and I have always looked for ways in which we can get more nutritious foods for our children. Like most parents, we struggle with it daily. However, it is amazing that my 5 and 3 year olds love junk food, and never get tired of it. So one day, I simply put two and two together and said to my wife: “Hey, why don’t we make the junk food better?”That was the inspiration for Truly Organic Pizza — our response to the over-processed food dominating the market today. Truly Organic Pizza proudly returns to the basics of pizza making ... really good tasting pizza that everyone would love to eat, but made with the best ingredients possible.
The commitment to all organic was easy. Once we decided on an all-organic menu the decision to have our whole pizzeria certified by the USDA Organic board was a natural progression. We did not want to have any doubt of our commitment; the certificate is proof of our process and our passion.
However, this labor of love definitely adds to our food cost as we source only certified organic ingredients, which costs much more than conventional foods. In addition, there are also associated fees in maintaining the organic seal. No chemical pest control, biodegradable cleaning agents, and the management process for organic integrity all adds up in the cost. So far, the market response has been good. This proves that our trail blazing paid off and the consumer responses on our Facebook page and tweets validate our founding principle. People do not want junk food; they will take a healthier version of food even if it costs a bit more as long as they do not have to feel like they are eating their neighbor’s lawn!
The organic way of living requires more education. We continue to explain our process, commitment and the whole organic way of producing food to our customers to show them why we do what we do and how it can benefit your body. We are confident and excited about our process, ingredients, and our pizza — and we are eager to share it with the world!
Photos by Josh Keown
When it comes to tableside pizza presentation, it’s easy to leave it and
forget it. But serving pizza is an opportunity to add drama and a hands-on personal touch to the dining experience.
Presentation styles and pizza stands vary widely: from the typical C-shaped riser, to the chrome pedestal, to double-decker stands, to custom built pieces of functional art. Some pizzerias utilize what’s on hand, such as repurposing large tomato cans as risers or using wooden pizza peels. Others serve the pizzas directly on or beside the table.
Typical pizza stands are a minimal cost, running $3 to $7 for a standard tray stand. Others, such as the chrome pedestal, run around $10
to $35 and offer a classic solution with retro flair. Multi level wire and wrought iron stands maximize table space and range from $13 to $45 and can stack two to three pizzas. Any higher than that and the stand is best used behind the counter for display.
The pay off in table space is worth the investment. But for those seeking unique solutions, many pizzerias have found stylish solutions.
The provoking stands at Regents Pizzeria in La Jolla, California, are a prime example of how a utilitarian object can set your restaurant apart. Made of repurposed and recycled industrial scrap, the stands add wit and whimsy to the pizza presentation.Commissioned from the owner’s neighbor, regents Pizzeria has seven stands, each unique from the others.
One of the most varied arsenals of pizza stands can be found at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. Tony Gemignani serves nine regional styles of pizza and has nearly as many ways to serve them. The wood-fired napoletana pizza is presented on beautiful painted ceramic pedestals. his Detroit-style pie is served in blue steel pans directly from Detroit. But the most striking presentation is his three-foot long Pizza romana. Served on a wide wood peel, the pizza takes center stage when placed upon two raised wire racks.
Besides offering tailored presen- tations for each style of pizza, the array of heights, sizes and colors create a fanciful eatable landscape. each pizza evokes a sense of place and honors the way in which it is “supposed to be served.”
The first slice is the deepest, especially when that slice is into a deep- dish or stuffed crust pizza. But other menu items, such as calzones, are best brought to the table intact. They can be served with a serrated blade or rolling slicer. An operator should determine if the server should slice and serve the pizza for guests. This usually depends on how messy the process is. in San Francisco, neapolitan-style pizzeria Zero Zero serves its pies on a custom stand that holds three tiers of white ceramic plates. A small nub sticks out, holding a chic little rolling slicer. When they serve their ripieno— a folded, calzone-like pizza — the wait staff carves the football shaped pocket tableside but lets customers selected their own pieces. By leaving the slicer attached to the stand, the table is uncluttered and at the end of the meal customers can split that last piece of pizza evenly.
Sometimes, serving the pizza yourself is part of the fun. At happy Joe’s Pizza and ice Cream in St. Louis, manager Tony Arnzen says: “We serve the pizza on a tray and place it on the riser on the table, but we don’t serve the first slice.”
The popular taco pizza elicits smiles as customers balance the topping heavy slices on a spatula from pan to plate. each self-served slice reveals a little bit more of the logo printed pan. But this doesn’t mean the staff ends its interaction after the pizza arrives. “i encourage all employees to say “hi, how are you” and to “interact with customers are least three times while here,” says franchisee Rick Simmon. “After the pizza is served, we check back in five minutes” ensuring customers are fully stocked with condiments.
Selecting a slice can be a rather personal experience, but some styles of pizza can bewilder patrons. This is when a server’s intervention is required, sometimes just for safety’s sake. The nearly two-inch wall of pizza at Chicago’s Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Pizza is such an example.
“We serve the first slice. There is a lot of cheese and if you haven’t done it before it can get kind of messy. it shows the customer how to do it,” says Manager Chris Furman, “and it looks nice!” This act of showmanship is a learning experience for the guest and a way for novices to avoid embarrassing mishaps. it shows, through performance, that the guests are being treated to something special.
- buffet risers
- multi-functional holders
- cake stands
Empty cans are multi functional, plus they flaunt the quality of your ingredients. They can be used to hold:
If you’re happy with your existing stands, consider dressing them up with decora- tive elements:
- logo stickers
- quirky toys
- colored tape/ paint
Kelly Bone is a freelance writer living in Culver City, California. She covers food topics for a variety of outlets.
Photos by Josh Keown
Many restaurant operators treat beverages as an afterthought — an oversight that can show up in your bottom line, says restaurant consultant Annette Fazio, owner of York, Maine-based Using Your Noodle in Business.
Maintaining Pricing Accuracy
Looking at sales volume, costs and profit margins can help operators determine if they’ve priced correctly, says consultant Annette Fazio. Monitoring costs is especially critical for pricing accuracy, especially considering fluctuating commodity costs, says Aaron Allen, also a restaurant consultant. Because of the day-to-day fires popping up, operators often neglect to analyze as closely and as deeply as they should, he explains. Allen suggests establishing key performance indicators, monitoring them in real time. Other tips to ensure pricing accuracy include:
- Use the correct glassware, says Allen. Have recipes for everything.
- Calculate in things like refills on coffee, tea and fountain drinks, say both consultants, adding this is something commonly overlooked. Remember, when pricing beverages, people use things like cream, lemon, sweeteners and stirrers.
- It’s challenging to generalize about profit margins, says Allen, since different beverages — alcoholic, juices, water, sodas, bottled, fountain, and so on — all have different profit ranges, he explains. Fazio says for beverages as a whole, profit margins should average 20 to 25 percent. “Although if you’re a really upscale operation you should look at the competition,” she says. “Because even at 20 percent, you could still be charging several dollars less than the competition.”
“They should really take a look at beverages because this is where you can bring in a little more money and can do so without loading up your inventory and creating more work,” she says.
There are several factors restaurant operators should consider when establishing beverage prices, say Fazio and Allen. These are:
- The concept, format and clientele. Are you mainly dine-in, takeout or delivery? Fast casual, QSr or fine dining? Positioning is also important, Allen says. “Some may want to be perceived as higher end, some may want to be more value-added.”
“You have to know what your business is,” says Jeff Miller, who owns two extreme Pizza franchises. Both in Northern California, they do mainly delivery; dine-in comprises about 20 to 25 percent of the business. They serve beer, wine, soda, juices and bottled water. Beer and wine sales account for two percent of their overall sales; nonalcoholic beverages contribute six percent, says Miller, adding that his customer base is a mix of business, family and college students.
“I knew going in that beverages would be less than 10 percent of our overall revenue,” he says. “Our business model is gourmet pizza; we’re not a sports bar.” Then there’s Shorty’s. with two Georgia locations (in Atlanta and Tucker), Shorty’s offers full bars, plus live music and dancing in the Tucker restaurant, says owner Brian wilson. Beer/wine and liquor sales account for 20 percent and seven percent of the total sales respectively at the Tucker restaurant, which is in a suburban area.
The Atlanta restaurant is more urban, wilson says. Beer/wine sales are about 18 percent; liquor is three percent. There, thanks to a more business clientele, wine sales are higher. For both operations, nonalcoholic beverage sales are classified with food; at the Atlanta restaurant, food sales are just under 80 percent.
“This reflects our focus on food,” he explains. “even though we’re close to emery University, kids don’t go to a pizza restaurant to pound beers.”
- The competition. “Competitive analysis is important; we don’t want to charge more than the competition,” says wilson. “See what competitors are charging and don’t charge more; charge less if you can.”
- Compare concepts in the same tier as yours; like to like, says Miller.
- Be thorough, advises Allen. Check type, size, if refills are free and what incidentals and add-ons are provided.
- Consider your marketing and positioning strategy; the experience you’re offering guests, says Allen. If the experience is upscale or unique, you may be able to get away with charging a bit more. And keep your competitors confused; make your own signature drinks, says Fazio, and “you can charge more for these. Plus customers like them and it won’t be as easy for the competition to shop you.”
- Consider your costs. when wilson first opened, he priced on what the market would bear. Now, although he doesn’t want to charge more than the competition, he does factor in costs, raising prices if costs demand it (wilson’s end-of-month beverage costs run 30 to 33 percent).
“In the last couple of years we’ve gone up on our draft beer prices considerably,” he says. “People love craft beers and microbrews, so we’re completely comfortable the market will tolerate it.”
Miller runs his cost of goods at around 28 percent with beverages making up about two percent of that. “If my costs go up by five percent, I’ll evaluate if I can raise my prices,” Miller says. “I scout the competition first. But if they haven’t raised their prices I’d still raise mine if the cost of goods warranted it.”
Allen’s reluctant to generalize about costs, explaining these can vary based on the concept, and what’s being served and how. However, he says that on average, the combined costs of beer, wine and liquor should be around 22 percent; Fazio’s estimate is around 23 percent (including nonalcoholic beverages). Offering nonalcoholic beverage only? Fazio estimates costs should be no more than 18 percent, depending on type (fountain, bottle, juice boxes, etc).
Ultimately, all the above factors considered, pricing remains very individual, says Fazio. “You have to go with what you’re comfortable with and be able to defend it.”
Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelancer specializing in writing on topics of interest to all manner of businesses. She is based in Long Beach, California.
Photos by Josh Keown
My pizzeria’s love affair with steak began over eight years ago when restaurant consultant Big Dave Ostrander convinced me to put steak on my menu. Of the 53 toppings I offer, it’s a standout. In fact, in the past 10 months, steak has been responsible for the sale of 1,043 large single steak topping piz- zas, 3,170 specialty pizzas and 577 steak sandwiches! If I hadn’t taken this chance on steak, I would still only be offering just ground beef like every other pizza place.
Steak is what I call my “pizza loss leader.” It’s a topping that not only increases sales of pizza, but also boosts sales of other toppings I partner it with — even though it is not as profitable because of a high food cost. Unlike many pizza toppings, steak has the “heavy-heavy topping syndrome.” Because everything is priced according to weight, heavy toppings need to be cheaper — like pineapple, which is heavy but cheap. The opposite is pepperoni (which is light, but heavy in price). steak has a heavy price and heavy weight. In my experience, a topping with these two variables had better perform fabulously and produce some bodacious revenue.
My priorities, (besides taste) for any new pizza topping are:
- How will this help me capture more customers and revenue?
- How much does it cost per pound, per ounce, per pizza?
- Does the price I would have to charge jive with my market?
- How many man-hours will it take to prep?
- How many different styles of pizza can I make using my other existing toppings?
I tried all the different types of pre-prepared steak on the market as well as cooking, slicing and holding a steak topping myself. The variation in steak flavors and cuts differ with preparation, shrinkage, texture, chew, marinade and price. all have the trade-offs that every pizza owner such as yourself must calculate to fit their own menu-mix and market.
Let’s take a look at a few cuts you might consider:
- Loin. expensive cuts like this are tender and delicious but contain less fat to melt on the pie. not many pre-prepared products on the market contain strip loin. loin can rocket from 56 cents an ounce for untrimmed strip loin to $1.20 an ounce for untrimmed waigu beef strip loin. Tenderloin’s texture is delicate but adds minimal flavor to a pizza and costs almost 75 cents to 90 cents an ounce. This represents a minimum of $2.80 for each five-ounce portion before figuring labor prep.
- Philly steak or top round. By far the most popular and recognizable fast food steak, the Philly steak has morphed from a thinly sliced top round to ribeye in some places. a big haunch of top round spiced with Italian seasonings and garlic cooked to less than medium rare and rendered thin on a slicer is magnificent on a pizza because the huge slice envelopes the pizza in a beefy cloak. The downside is that wet meat may turn harmful in the hands of anyone without sanitation training or with slow sales. Philly steak can be found in several thaw-and-serve varieties where you can peel like ham and top as you wish. It can cost between 25 to 40 cents an ounce (which, at five ounces, would cost a minimum of $1.25 a pizza).
- Ribeye. This is probably the best thin sliced product for pizza because the meat is tender and fatty. If raw, it produces a wonderful beefy sheen on the cheese that permeates the whole pie but shrinks. If used pre-cooked it has a little less taste with less shrinkage and no hint of “blood stain” on the cheese. untrimmed ribeye in bulk costs 58 cents an ounce uncooked, but there are good chopped and formed products for as little as 28 cents an ounce. This costs as little as $1.40 per pie (5 ounces) — without any labor — to prep, and it doesn’t contain any of those scary chemicals like TBhQ, BhT or Bha.
- Chuck eye roll. This obscure cut is a secret in the sandwich industry, especially in some Boston steak sandwiches. It is a combination of layered muscles with the top being the end of the ribeye called the “chuck eye,” while the bottom is a bit tougher. The tougher texture lends itself to slicing, marinating, then braising like Italian beef, but the fat has real lasting flavor. Prices are great during the summer, but go up in winter because they cut this up to produce chuck steak for pot roast.
Through the use of some very creative and classic steak preparations, you can bring your food cost down and steak pizza sales up while making a delicious pizza. Let’s run a recipe and the numbers for this pizza. Start with your crust, sauce, cheese and box, which will cost you roughly $2.40:
Southwestern Fajita Steak Pizza
Dough, Sauce, Cheese, and Box = $2.40:
5 ounces of steak @ .28 oz = $1.40
2.5 ounces of onion @ .04 oz = $ .10
2.5 ounces of green pepper @ .15 oz = $ .38
(Tablespoon) southwest seasoning = $ .18
Total cost: $4.46
In a good market you’d price this pizza at about $26, with a food cost of 17 percent and a profit of $21.54. In a mid-market, it could be priced at $16 with a food cost of 28 percent and a $11.54 profit. In a discount market, price it at $12 and the food cost would be 37 percent, leaving you with $7.54 in base profits. This illustrates that even at a discounted price, steak can yield over $7 base profit for one pizza!
If you want to make more money from your menu mix, try steak. your customers will thank you.
ENHANCE YOUR MENU OPTIONS WITH STEAK
- Philly Steak Pizza: Cream sauce, cheese, asiago or cheddar, steak, onion, green pepper (Cover photo)]
- Gorgonzola Steak Pizza: Cream sauce, cheese, spinach, gorgonzola, steak, balsamic glaze
- Steak and Potato Pizza: Steak, potato, cheese, broccoli, cheddar, bacon
- Bulgogi (Korean Beef) Pizza: Teriyaki sauce, provolone, steak, scallions, hot sauce, kimchi
- Lebanese Steak Pizza: Tahini cream, cheese, steak, onion, (cucumber and tomato after oven)
- Chicago Steakhouse Pie: Horseradish cream sauce with spinach, cheese, steak and asparagus
- Spicy Barbeque Steak Pizza: BBQ sauce, cheese, onion, cheddar, bacon, jalapeño.
John Gutekanst owns avalanche Pizza in athens, Ohio. he is also a speaker at International Pizza expo and a member of the world Pizza champions.
Photos by Josh Keown
As a child Sergio Vitale traveled throughout his father’s native italy. “I remember having potato pizza in Tuscany — it stood out as a unique combination. and i loved how simple and delicious it was,” he says.
Today, the chef/owner of Baltimore, Maryland-based Chazz: A Bronx original restaurant brings back those Tuscan memories by creating his own version of potato pizza. Vitale’s coal-oven-fired white pizza is topped with sea salt seasoned potatoes, pecorino and fontina cheeses, rosemary and garlic. after baking he drizzles calabrese chili oil over it.
“It’s very popular, actually,” says Vitale. “it’s in the top five sellers. People think ‘potatoes on pizza?’ and maybe that piques their interest at first, and then they taste it and get hooked.”
Vitale’s not alone in having potato pizza success. Numero 28 cucina in new york, part of the Biamonte family’s numero 28 pizzerias, serves a patate pizza topped with mozzarella, gorgonzola, white potato slices and oregano.
“It’s a popular pizza, and it is also a good vegetarian option (for lactoovo vegetarians who eat dairy),” says Rolando Biamonte, co-owner.
not only do diners at Sazerac Restaurant in Seattle, Washington, enjoy the potato pizza, but so does executive chef Jason Mcclure. “People really do like it. but for me, it’s really a personal favorite so i really enjoy making this pizza,” he says. Mcclure bakes a Neapolitan-style pizza topped with thin slices of yukon potatoes, thyme and goat cheese or blue cheese.
Andrea Franchini, co-owner of Pizza Roma in New York, also sells a profitable potato pizza dressed with mozzarella and rosemary.
While it might sound great to have potato pizzas seemingly fly out of ovens due to high demand, operators must bake with caution. Sliced potatoes are delicate. it’s important to not scorch them when baking the pizzas. Golden brown on the edges is great, but burnt throughout is not.
The key is getting potatoes crispy, not watery, says franchini, who cuts potatoes thin and leaves them in water overnight to remove the starch. (Starch can cause the potato’s surface to brown faster than the inside cooks and can make potatoes stick together.)
“Potatoes have to be cut thin enough to cook through, but not so thin they burn — though a little crispy is good. Just pay attention to the thickness when cutting,” Mcclure adds.
When baking potato pizzas it’s also important to know your oven’s strengths. “we have a custom coal oven. with coal or wood, you have to plan around the high heat and adjust the recipe accordingly: how long the pizza is going to stay in the oven and at what temperature. working backwards from there, you can tweak the hydration level in the spuds,”Vitale explains.
The right hydration helps prevent spuds from watering out and making pizzas soggy. Vitale slices the potatoes, then blanches them to hydrate further. “alternatively, sliced, blanched potatoes can be stacked in the walk-in overnight to dry out if necessary, depending on what works for your oven,” he says.
He also “seals” the pizza’s crust with a layer of shredded fontina underneath the potatoes. and he is careful with the potatoes’ spacing. “Too many spuds cropped up in the center will make a soggy pizza,”Vitale says.
To prevent potato pizza sogginess at Numero 28 Cucina, Fausto Sassi, pizza maker, boils potatoes fresh daily then slices them. “The mozzarella and gorgonzola keeps the potatoes moist. Since the potatoes are cooked already, the pizza bakes quickly, so burning is not an issue,” he says.
Different potato varieties deliver unique taste and textures. operators should play around with assorted varieties to see what works best in their oven. Mcclure prefers to use either yukon potatoes because of its taste, or Kennebec potatoes for its high-starch content.
Vitale favors Idaho potatoes. “I prefer starchy potato varieties rather than waxy potato varieties because I think they taste better on the pizza,” he says. “Waxy potatoes have a tendency to make pizzas soggy, and potato slices burn easily.”
Waxy potatoes (such as round white, round red, yellow potato and red potato) are relatively high in moisture and sugar, but low in starch. Starchy potatoes (such as Idaho, Russet bur-bank, Goldrush and Norkotah) are high in starch and good for frying. No matter what variety you choose, all potatoes have the ability to provide a blank canvas for pizzas. The subtle taste blends naturally with a variety of meats and cheeses.
Sassi enjoys pairing potatoes with ham and sausage. Vitale likes mixing potatoes with caramelized onions and lardons or duck confit.
However, proceed with caution. operators don’t want other flavors to overpower the spuds. in terms of topping pizzas, a little goes a long way. as Mcclure says, “Keep it simple and the flavors will blend together perfectly.”
British Bacon Potato, Oinion and Gorgonzola Pizza
10-inch pizza shell
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1 cup roasted potato slices
½ cup roasted onion slices or smothered onion slices
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
¼ pound bacon, cooked and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh apple (skin left on)
1 tablespoon toasted, crumbled walnut
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
2 tablespoons sweet vinaigrette*
Build a pizza, layering the ingredients, as listed up to garnish, evenly over the dough. Bake the pie until golden.
Toss the apple, walnut, spinach, and vinaigrette together in a small bowl while the pie bakes.
Slice the pie and mound the salad in the center.
2 cups red wine vinegar
¼ cup of honey (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
½ teaspoon ground caraway seed
(optional) 2 cups olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
Place the vinegar, honey, garlic, and caraway seed in a small pan and bring to a boil. Let simmer gently 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool down completely before using. Pour the cooked vinegar mixture into a bowl or food processor and whisk or beat in the oil until it’s emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman is a freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky. She covers food, business and lifestyle trends.
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