Inspired by Tony Gemignani a few years back, I was fascinated with the multiple styles of pizza he offered at one of his shops. We wanted to build upon that coolness. Although it’s been challenging, our shop has broken the mold of a typical pizza shop in OUR area.
We started out offering the big pie cut 18-inch New York-style crust and the 12-inch slightly crispier Neapolitan crust. Although some styles require special flours, bakes and temps to do different pizzas. Our concept started with our Neapolitan and New York, then we adding the super thin “New Haven crust”. Next it was our “upside down” pie we call “Bostonian.” We then developed four iconic pan styles — Grandma, Sicilian, the Deep Dish Chicago and that wild Detroit…(Roman style to come soon). We are now pushing for our 11th style soon for our pizza Disneyland concept as some of our customers now call it.
Tell us about your pizza that won the Traditional Division at the Best of the Northeast Competition during Pizza & Pasta Northeast in Atlantic City?
We won with our take on a thin New Haven-style crust. It’s a best seller. I focused on characteristics like a super thin charred bake, and even the strange way it was sliced. We even marketed how it is pronounced APIZZA (ah-beetz). Knowing how intense the pros are in this type of competition after watching them compete for years, I knew I needed to bring the best of everything. I needed a crisp char crust texture and to emulate how they strangely cut it in New Haven. We did add some sweetness from caramelized onions and infused fresh basil with two types of oregano into my favorite bold tomato sauce mix. Lastly, we hit it with the fresh chopped garlic with garlic oil drizzle when it came out.
As a first-time competitor, what are your takeaways from competing?
It was cool hanging out alongside so many amazing pizza chefs. I enjoyed watching the process. I didn’t look at it as a competition, but more of a celebration. As a first-time competitor I feel like I was lucky to have made those tough decisions, and to be crafting my pizza without too much practice at the show following the strict show guidelines. I simply had no plans to win. I was in it for the learning process for me and perhaps my son to try next time.
Tell us more about your unique operating hours and philosophies?
We just open four hours a night to develop our pizza passion and skills. We sell what we come up with and enjoy the concept with the locals and now with endless traveling foodies. It’s a part-time boutique hobby shop concept for fun. This works well with my other business obligations to produce music for artists and a handful of reality television shows out of Los Angeles. We don’t plan on opening full time. We’re not in it for the money. We have fun.