Brad dishes on pizzeria menus
What began as a tiny, 900-square-foot pizzeria in 1980 has evolved into an expanded restaurant and menu with more than 40 pizza toppings and 20 specialty pizzas. Brad Rocco, a manager before partnering with owner Don Schmitt, has taken the Ohio pizzeria onto the international stage with non-traditional and traditional pizza category wins at International Pizza Expo.
On 2016 pizza menu trends. I think the obvious trend towards gluten-free pizzas has become more than a fad. I’m searching for the perfect gluten-free pizza crust, but haven’t found it yet and I won’t put it on my menu until I do. It is one thing that I will focus on at the 2016 Pizza Expo.
On menu rotation. I have one house special pizza that I offer. I promote it and monitor the sales for at least a month. If it is popular, it will make its way on to my regular menu and, more than likely, will replace a specialty pizza that is not performing well. We monitor the sales percentages of all of our specialty pizzas through our POS system.
On Bexley’s pizza chefs. I give them the opportunity to create and they do that quite well. It starts with letting them make their own personal pizzas and I also have a contest that allows them to be creative. The winning pizza may make it onto the menu as a monthly special if it’s worthy.
On menu pricing. Menu pricing is a very tricky process. I take into consideration many things, but the price of cheese is the primary factor in the decision to raise prices on pizzas. We monitor it constantly, but try to only raise it once a year, if possible. We will not raise the prices if it’s not justified by food costs.
On competing at the International Pizza Challenge:
I only compete in the Traditional & Non-traditional categories and both of those competitions involve very different preparations. For the Traditional, there is less creativity and more of a concentration on finding the two perfect ingredients that work well together. In the Non-traditional, there are no limitations and I start the process months in advance. I will have my staff taste test my pizzas and will narrow it down to a couple before I make my final decision. I try to not compete with the same pizza twice to keep it fresh and unique for the judges.