Since it showcases our annual Independent Pizzeria of the Year, I always carry a little extra enthusiasm for our August issue. After all, running an independent pizza business to the highest of standards and success levels is the crux of what Pizza Today is all about.
That said, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to our readers the 2010 Independent of the Year: Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 2004 by former Starbucks executive Joe Fugere, Tutta Bella was the first pizzeria in the Pacifi c Northwest to receive certifi cation from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletanta (VPN), the watchdog that ensures its American pizzeria members live up to the traditions and standards of the original pizza crafted centuries ago in Naples, Italy. I have personally visited Tutta Bella four different times over the years, and I’ve never left any of the company’s four locations without feeling absolutely blown away by the superior food quality, service, attention to detail, ambiance … you name it. This might well be the perfect pizzeria.
Seattle residents obviously agree. Tutta Bella will top $10 million in sales this year.
To learn more about Tutta Bella and what makes it so special, see our coverage beginning on page 58. If you take nothing else away from this issue, don’t fail to absorb Fugere’s passion for his business and the way he has set it up to succeed by demanding excellence in every facet of it. By cultivating a talented staff and then empowering it, he has fostered an environment in which every employee takes ownership and works to ensure customer satisfaction remains high. Fugere doggedly pursues perfection from every angle, ranging from the wine list or the way an espresso is pulled to the way the cornizione (the pillowy rim of the finished crust) must look before the kitchen can send a pizza out to a table. But while he’s driven by excellence, he’s inspired and guided by authenticity. Essentially, he wants to re-create the quintessential Neapolitan experience in his four Seattle pizzerias each and every day. It’s a lofty bar, and Tutta Bella reaches it.
Congratulations to Fugere and the rest of his staff. You’ll meet many of them in the pages of this issue. People like executive chef Brian Gojdics; beer, wine and spirits manager R.C. Jennings; coffee program manager Jeff Perini; director of operations Joyce Morinaka; training program manager Kelli Phelan; sustainability program manager Erik Cain and facilities program manager Jamie Sprott. These people are at the forefront of one of the nation’s most successful operations, and Pizza Today is proud to cover their success stories.
Jeremy White, editor-in-chief