When I was a kid, I loved wearing sweatpants. For some strange reason, my parents rarely let me wear them to school. Mom said I looked “schleppy,” which those who aren’t familiar with Yiddish should be able to tell is not a great compliment. She reasoned that sweatpants are more fitting for weekends at home than they are for a social place like school. The concept of matching attire with environment makes total sense, yet some pizzerias are still dressing their pies in the wrong pants. Here’s a rundown of some pizza serving-options and what messages they send to your customers.
Aluminum pizza trays are clearly the workhorses of the pizza industry. They take a beating from thousands of slicer impressions and warping from constant exposure to excessive heat, but that’s all acceptable because of their relatively low expense. Seeing one at your pizzeria tells me instantly that I’m in a casual place. I’m probably ordering a large pizza to share with my friends and pairing it with either a cola or pitcher of cheap beer. Just beware — using these for personal pies may be a mistake if customers are going to be scraping them up with forks and knives.
Glass and porcelain plates convey a completely different message from their aluminum colleagues. I see them in restaurants with more expensive pizzas due in part to the fact that they’re so delicate and far less forgiving when it comes to the rigors of restaurant life. Cutting on glass and porcelain is much better than aluminum, so these work great in pizzerias that focus on single-serving pizzas. The formality of plates like these make me think about my pizza as a personal dish rather than one I’ll be sharing with my fellow diners, but we are sharing a bottle of wine to go with our fancy pizzas.
Wooden board and peels are appearing more frequently as artisanal pizza continues to gain popularity. When I see pizza served on a wooden board, my brain hits me with buzzwords like “natural”, “earthy” and “handmade.” This is not the proper surface for a cheesy, greasy pizza –– it’s better suited for light pizzas topped with artichokes, sundried tomatoes and raw leafy greens. When it comes to the issue of wear-and-tear these things only look better with abuse, but we’re probably sharing these pies rather than chopping them up with forks and knives. Artisanal pizzas served on planks and boards beg for a pitcher of craft beer for the adults and bottles of natural soda for the kids.
These platter options each send a different visual message to your customers. Before you deliver a fresh pizza to a table of hungry patrons, ask yourself if the platter matches the pizza. Consider the impact of your serving surface or you may be walking into a job interview wearing sweatpants.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.