Alastair Hannmann owns Pacifico Pizza Napoletana in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Pacifico features pizza styles from four major pizza cities in the world. Hannmann use wood, gas and electric ovens. Go in-depth into the Pacifico concept in the following Q&A:
Q: Describe the pizza styles you serve in your pizzerias?
A: We offer four styles:
- New York. This pizza style, which is the most ubiquitous in America, is characterized by large, hand-tossed, thin-crust pies. The crust is crisp along its edge yet soft and pliable enough beneath its toppings to be folded in half to eat. This style evolved from a type that originated in New York City in the early 1900s. [source: Wikipedia] Obviously, we live on an island nearly 5,000 miles from NYC, but we like to think we’d make the Big Apple proud.
- Chicago Deep Dish. Credit for the creation of this pizza style usually goes to Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno in 1943. This style is characterized by, surprise surprise, a deep dish. The round, steel pans used are more similar to a cake or pie pan than a typical pizza pan. Another interesting factoid about this style is that the ingredients are stacked upside down! Toppings go first, then cheese, with the sauce on top. Because of their thickness, these pizzas take longer to cook, and the cheese would burn if it was on top. The Pestorrific is our most popular; chicken and bacon, which is baked then finished with our house-made ranch and imported pesto sauce,
- Sicilian. Sicilian pizza is often synonymous with thick crust and, unsurprisingly, comes from Sicily, Italy. In the US, a Sicilian pizza is typically a square pizza with dough over an inch thick, a crunchy base, and an airy interior. We have our dough rise for 48 hours, which is how the crust gets its lightness and airiness. This is also why we limit our Sicilian sales to10 per day because of this lengthy process.
- Pizza Napoletana. The pizza of our namesake, also known as “Neapolitan Pizza” or “Wood Fired Pizza,” is considered the original pizza! It came into popularity in Naples, Italy in the 1760s. True pizza Napoletana uses very specific ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes grown on the volcanic plains of Mount Vesuvius, Bufala mozzarella made with the milk from water buffalo raised in the Italian marshlands, and type 00 wheat flour. We import these ingredients for authenticity that you can taste and bake the pizzas in our wood fired oven at 900 F degrees! The bake only takes 60 to 90 seconds and results in a bubbly and charred crust which is the signature of an excellent Neapolitan pie
Q: Why multiple styles and which is the most popular?
A: We originally started our pizzeria only doing one style over the course of 10 years selling pizza. I would occasionally get a customer who had been traveling and been from Chicago and ask us if we did Deep Dish. Most of the times they would be ok with NY style and get a slice or pie but there were some who would leave. This left me wondering what if I did offer other styles, how would customers perceive us especially if I was able to do it by the slice? In the beginning it was hard. We were only selling one style of pizza. The average customer would only come in and spend five dollars for a slice and a soda leave us with the small check averages. I decided if I was able to incorporate multiple styles I would have a larger variety for customers to choose from I got this idea from walking into bakeries. Items were fairly inexpensive because of the variety customers would choose multiple items building $40 to $50 checks out of a bakery. Then the idea came if I was to do that with pizza we would build bigger ticket averages as well as be the only pizzeria on the island offering multiple styles. I felt like the multiple style pizzeria is the way to go utilizing similar equipment as well as ingredients and by manipulating them in different forms would create different product therefore some sort of exclusivity specially being on an island where there a lot of military and transients from around the U.S. In the beginning when we first started doing Chicago Deep Dish no one got it. People didn’t even know what it was but after tweaking the recipe and traveling to the cities they originate I would be able to pull it off.
Definitely a most popular style is New York. It’s just a symbol of pizza in America people can easily relate to it. These days in my restaurants New York remains to be the most popular second being Chicago style then Neapolitan.
Q: What does it take from an operational standpoint to be able to offer multiple styles?
A: On the operational standpoint, it takes a lot to be able to pull off multiple styles. In the beginning it was not easy at all. I was trying to source ingredients that never existed in Hawaii. I tried everything. Nothing was coming out the right way. I knew the only way to pull it off was to source the exact ingredients from where each style originates. This took a lot of phone calls specially to manufacturers who sell products in Hawaii. Pizza Expo helped me a lot to find things I was looking for but the problem was getting them to the island was going be difficult.
My suppliers didn’t want to deal with us when we were sourcing these random ingredients because it was something we haven’t started yet nor did we have the volume to make it worth it for a purveyor to store the item for us. So I decided to start looking on the West Coast. A major distributor would be able to carry my products or already have the product on the West Coast so all I had to do is consolidate all my shipment and send out my own product on my own. This made it much easier for us to lower our prices on items we are currently purchasing in Hawaii because the volume we had already built up on our New York styles.
Dough production was imperative to make sure your products were not going stale. Moving consistently was important as well. On a daily basis you can find 16 different types of pizza in our show case New York, Chicago and Sicilian. This helped a lot with having consistent rotation of our inventory.
Pricing was also especially difficult because we are trying to put prices on things people had never seen before some people would kind of freak out how expensive it was but over time and through a lot of training with our staff, customers eventually knew they were getting an authentic product and no longer care about price. I would say the biggest advantage we would have would be teaching our front of house staff about the different styles. This is an important component we engrain in our FOH so they have the confidence to be able to sell the product. Customers were loving the fact they were also getting an education about pizza.
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