Thanks for the mention Adam.... this post reminds me of how much I miss Slice.
It was a pleasure to share a bit of Pizzicletta with you. Glad to hear it was fruitful.
You're right that staff meals are some of the best times at Pizzicletta and I'm glad you shared in it too. I feel fortunate to work along side great people every night.
This is a wonderful piece and I echo many of Paulie's emotions. Thank you Lance and thank you Paulie for giving me some of your time in 2010. It's a wonderful adventure when you take a leap.
So many true words here. I feel fortunate to be in here in AZ with the Bianco family. They do great things for all of us.
@L.A. Pizza Maven - Glad you will be making it in.... what day should I expect you?
Congrats to you two and congrats to the city of Baltimore... I'd have invested in this, for sure. -Caleb
@Lance - Didn't you know, in a previous life I was an Italian nonna and was the first to make cacio e pepe. Ha!
In all honesty, pizza combinations are sometimes unique and very often inspired by other pizzaioli. I think the first night I made the "bee sting" went like this: sh#$, it's 4 o'clock and I need to decide on a special. In my kitchen I have serranos, I am low on mozzarella so I should use ricotta, and I was given 2# of honey instead of the 1/2# I requested so I'd better put it to use. When the pie was put together and served I had a customer ask, "how did you think of this combo?" and I mentioned eating the bee sting at Roberta's. "That's a great name." I couldn't argue.
@harmsyseatown and @animals... Thank you for coming in!
@Tonycalzone I have complete respect for Roberta's and the sweet + heat combo was inspired by their pizza I had in 2010 while slices-deep in research. I most often mention to customers that my pie at Roberta's were behind that flavor combination at Pizzicletta. The name is very fitting for the local serranos and flagstaff honey we use.
@Tscarborough - I agree to a point. I don't think the owner should ever sacrifice on the quality of the pizza (no matter whom the pizzaiolo of the night is), but the perception of the customer is not in our control and as Lance admits, perception can affect "taste."
@Pizzablogger - You're absolutely right. Finding the right staff is not easy, but they do need to have the qualities that @KevinGardo mentioned, IMO. If someone doesn't care about the product and is just looking for a paycheck, the food will suffer. I think anyone in the industry knows that those are the employees to let go before handing over the peel. I feel fortunate that Pizzicletta has become a fun, passion-filled place to work and that has attracted/retained an amazing staff. I'd be nowhere without them.
@dmcavanaugh - I'll have to disagree with respect to Neapolitan pizza. Great dough with an over-floured, poorly shaped pie and poorly managed oven will not be good. I really don't think it's possible to identify a single person/task as the most important with respect to this style of pie.
A smarter man than you? Doubtful. But yes, I know the markup for bianco tomatoes. I raised my price $1 on my margherita and marinara. That's all I could justify and still sleep at night.
This has been a pretty interesting discussion. If history provides any lesson, I believe it was the invention of the assembly line that essentially did away with most "artisanal" products. The word is now over-used in an attempt to market a product that is a step up from what's come before.
Clearly, there will be a distinction to customers between the assembly line approach vs. a mom and pop pizza operation.
Nonetheless, I'm sure these businesses will make a lot of "dough." I seriously doubt doubt they'll ever consistently make great pizza though.
Thinly sliced, post bake. Otherwise, no dice.
@gaffer - I'm working on cooling solutions. Should be installed soon.
@cptexas - please be sure to introduce yourself when you make it in.
@texas_ashley - Thanks for reading along and I'm glad to hear that my introspective posts are taken to heart. Hopefully, one day you'll be "dangerously close" to flagstaff and I can make you a pie.
@DSheridan - I'm blushing! I'm glad to hear the series has been well received.
@LearP - ill look into altering my directions on Yelp. Thanks for coming in and the feedback?
@FledipusRex - Be sure to introduce yourself. See you on Saturday!
@Humberto - Thanks for following along on FB. Last night was wild indeed with free pie... had a line down the street all night.
@Rodzilla - Frozen pie? You'll have to wait til I team up with Tombstone to create a Neapolitan-freezer pie.
@Adam - Yes, that's Sue! I should have handed my peel over to her.
Yelp brings in ~50% of NEW customers, which is probably only 10% within in a night and those are just estimates. Nonetheless, it is powerful and, yeah, I watch our reviews!
Thanks for the comments fellas.
@cornic1: Great question!!! Being on Slice has been great, but mostly from a pizza-geek-freak point of view, I believe. I cannot know the financial benefit/success to the postings, but it's certainly brought people in from across the country that would've never discovered us before. The biggest thing it has done, however, is given Pizzicletta some national attention that would otherwise being overlooked. We are in such a small town that most food blogs (e.g. Eater) will completely overlook us despite the fact that there is great things happening in our small food world. The potential, therefore, is still unknown I believe.
Many people might not want to hear this, but Yelp has had the biggest impact on business and I think I know why: we're rated #1 in town, our price point is very approachable, and who doesn't like pizza? So, you're on I-40, hungry, pull out your iPhone, and Yelp Flagstaff and Pizzicletta becomes a no-brainer. I ask nearly all our new customers how they heard of us and about 50% are via Yelp and even more on the weekends. It's a fascinating topic and, in my opinion, too influential at times.
At the same time, I ask if we live up to expectations they had after reading our reviews and most everyone says "absolutely."
Thanks Kelly. It was a fun interview and Austen did a great job editing (although I wish he'd gotten some pizza shots!). He captured some of my favorite things about my space. What I also really enjoyed was taking the time to tell my story during a 30 minute interview. As I mentioned, I talk with about 90% of my customers, and they all want to know the roots of this place, but I only have a minute or two, at most. Sitting down and sharing it completely was a unique opportunity.
Hope to see you in Flagstaff soon. As I mentioned, it's a great place.
@John - You know your dough. You nailed everything I focus on at Pizzicletta and the result is seriously-supple dough. This post confirms my suspicion that I find common themes from the Nomad-pedigree (e.g. PG and Peter) that are similar to my style of pie.
@Adam - That does sound low. Calculating it out to the tenth of a percent is a bit telling that I think he goes by "feel," as I do, and this calculation was something he doesn't do often. I'd bet it is not fully accurate of his day to day batches, but I could be wrong. I've definitely found that the flour temperature & dryness, ambient air temperature & humidity all demand that I adjust the amount of flour I add to my water as I'm mixing.
Regardless, I think Peter and I strive for the same thing in our pizza - supple, chewy, crazy char & mid to high open crumb structure.
That's legit! The dough is super silky and the char is off the hook... must be running a hot oven and high hydration. Never seen that come out of a truck. Well done.
If you've ever walked a side street in Italy you've probably stumbled upon a floral shop, a basket shop, a cheese shop, a charcuterie shop, etc., all in one block. Essentially, one business doing one thing and I bet you'll never have found a better product than at those little shops.
I set out with one thing in mind. To make great pizza. The more time I spend on other prep, the less time I can focus on dough, which is the heart of my business. Focus.
And tonight, I had a customer come in requesting GF dough. I don't have it. Never will. They walked out. I'm understanding of celiac, but if you want GF dough or pasta, my restaurant is not for you. If you want the best pizza around, made with passion and attention to detail than I highly recommend paying me a visit. I promise that I won't let you down.
Hats off to Mario and best of luck to Jutes as he decides what track to take.
Thanks for all the warm comments and feedback. I'll be sure to carve out some time this summer to continue with updates.
@JacobEstes - Pizzicletta = pizza + bicicletta. I discovered Neapolitan pizza while cycling though Italy. I know what you're on to but it clearly isn't my intention.
@PG - I think we (restaurant proprietors) could all write an extensive post about Yelp reviews. Anything will come! I'll tell Chris if he's in the neighborhood to swing by your place.
Alan- Thank you for so eloquently saying what I feel deep in my bones about this place. It's built from love and I'm glad it shows.
You are also right about me not aiming to "ride a wave." Neapolitan pizza sure has gone mainstream over the last few years but my dream for this place began long before that. Thank you for noting this much.
And yes, I'm young but as Paulie has shown so well, passion has no age limit.
PG- You were a help to me, as I am sure you have been to many others (not necessarily in the pizza business either). The space is also something altogether special. I hardly knew what I had until I was allowed to do demo after signing my lease. It was a pleasant surprise. I hope to make you a pie some day.
Hot!!! I have a small restaurant, but at least the oven can vent to the rest of the space, out the windows, etc. My marble-slab workspace is about 6 feet from the oven front, but its still hot in the summer. I assume Dan knows what he's doing and has considered all these issues, it just seemed a difficult to design to overcome.
My other concern is the weight of the oven and the bricks. Ferrara's are brick ovens, not modular. So, there are many joints/mortar lines. Perhaps this gives the oven more flexure on bumpy roads, but it also seems like a fragile thing too. Can't imagine anything worse than hitting a bump at too high a speed and starting a crack that'll spread. The weight of the thing also seems like a big overhead from gasoline.
But don't get me wrong, I'd love to see this thing rolling! I'm sure they have engineers checking it all out.
I've always thought that AirItalia should put an oven on one of their jets. Maybe this is a first step.