One of the questions I get asked every day is, “do you ever get tired of pizza?” The answer is a clear NO, but I completely understand why it might enter someone’s mind that eating the same dish every day could dull the senses. Most people tend to think of pizza as a singular dish — but there is a vast expanse of variation out there, and it seems to be growing by the minute. There is a time and a place for every pizza style and the mind of a typical customer knows exactly what it wants in each situation.
A simple American delivery pizza is the perfect casual meal. I don’t want to cook or clean — I’m even excited about getting paper plates with my order so I don’t have to dirty any dishes.
Everyone in the family gets what they want without having to order multiple dishes (besides the salad and breadsticks). Since I’m eating at home without the opportunity to order additional items from a server, I’m more inclined to buy a safety pie to prevent the kids from fighting over the last slice. Worst-case scenario is we have a few slices left over and there is nothing wrong with cold pizza.
Pizza by the Slice is perfect for a midday snack or when I’m in a rush between meetings. My priority is speed over service or ambiance so I’ll always opt for freshness over menu depth. Freshness means there’s high turnover while a huge selection slows down ordering and service speed. If I want to jazz up a cheese slice I’ll just sprinkle on some crushed pepper flakes or oregano and call it a day. I don’t have time to wait around for the next pepperoni-mushroom pizza and if I did I would probably be in a sit-down restaurant.
Date night is the perfect time for Neapolitan pizza. The elevated perception of this style usually results in a vibe that reflects a restaurant rather than pizzeria. I’ll probably order a bottle of wine and even a dessert if you offer something I don’t usually see in pizzerias –– I’m thinking panna cotta over the more standard gelato and sorbet. The whole package of Neapolitan pizza, with its visible wood-fired oven and upscale ingredient list, frees it from the usual stigma attached to the American pizza experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, my buddies and I are likely to hunker down with A Detroit-style, deep-dish or sicilian pizza if we’re watching a game or prepping for a night of imbibing adult beverages. These heavier bases are the perfect platforms for multiple toppings and they go great with beer. Forget about dessert, I’m way more likely to fill up on some pre-pizza wings or some other appetizer while I wait through the longer bake time of these pizza styles.
With all these styles, it’s impossible to get bored of pizza. Each has a distinct set of typical consumer expectations and desires. Don’t forget your customers are thinking about more than just bread, sauce and cheese.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.