Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Evolution of Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan Pizza has been around for a while and has become a big trend lately in America due the internet, food shows and the millennials desire for the latest trend and a movement for a return to foods that are more environmentally friendly.  Pizza in it's most basic form is a very natural product consisting of flour, water, cheese, tomatoes and seasoning. This puts it in the category of natural when made fresh with wholesome ingredients. Unfortunately many chains in bottom dollar, high production, food control, labor and a need for a standard recipe began prepackaging pizza sauce and shipping frozen pre-stretched dough shells. Now if this is the only pizza you have ever eaten it is probably better than a TV dinner(a heat and serve dinner in an aluminum tray with compartments for things like chicken, potatoes and the ever popular cinnamon apples that was popular in the 60's and 70's). There is nothing as delicious as an artisan pizza made with fresh mozzarella, a really good tomato of the San Marzano type on a hand stretched dough and cooked at high temperature in a brick oven.  Now when you add the smell of a wood fire and some tasty toppings you have a meal fit for a king or as the legend goes a queen hence the name Margarita pizza. My first taste of these incredible pizzas was as a boy growing up in Brooklyn and visiting Coney Island with my brother and grabbing a pie at Tortono's. Who knew it would inspire us to start Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza and become world champion pizza men training people from all over the world to make pizza in a revolving deck brick oven  at the Pizza School New York. I really appreciate the the skill and art of  a good pizza man working a brick oven. The Italians that brought the skill to America opened the door for the current artisan pizza craze in America and the explosion of great pizza places all across this country of ours. The evolution of Neapolitan pizza is our current gourmet, fast casual build your own pie trend. When my brother Scot and I began Making pizza we payed homage to the old school but put a spin on it by creating things like the "Vodka Pie" which won a national contest and became a national trend itself. Adding a semolina recipe and squares with a mushroom sauce or brandy were non-traditional ideas that we incorporated into the menu evolving the Neapolitan Pizza to what we like to call a New York Brick Oven Pie. One of the points Lead Instructor from Pizza School New York, Andrew Scudera stresses to his successful students from all over the world is to be creative, try different things and see what your customers like and incorporate local favorites into the menu. America was founded by Revolution and it will take all kinds of entrepreneurs developing their own style of pizza to compete in the ever evolving pizza market. We pay tribute to the early pioneers as we eagerly await the latest creations of our friends. Happy pizza to you. Marc Cosentino 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Opening a pizza place? Top reasons it is a better time than ever.

So you are thinking about becoming a pizza entrepreneur and joining the ranks of pizza makers around the country engaged in keeping Americans well fed and happy? Fantastic idea and as always-easier said than done but with today's opportunities and the internet it is a whole lot easier  than it used to be. In fact it's night day when you compare opening a place today with opening a place 20 years ago. "How can that be ?" you may ask. Well consider a few things like:
Goodfellas Pizza
Brick Oven, Fast Casual Pizza
1. Recipes. There is an infinite amount of recipes available on the internet to choose from with sources like Google, Facebook, Youtube and celebrity chef TV and the food network. Anyone with basic skills and desire can get online, look for the hottest trends, find a recipe and get busy. Why reinvent the wheel when you can easily what is popular in the food world and duplicate it?
2. Restaurant type. You can easily take a look at the different types of locations and layouts such as a slice joint, fast casual or sit down waiter service. You can also do some research and see if delivery and take out or even a brew pub-bar will fit in with your plans. Size of location and type of pizza will be a factor in determining  if you do sit down, fast casual pizza with an assembly line or just slices.
3. Equipment. It has never been easier to see the different types of equipment being used in successful places than it is now. Currently the hottest trend is hand assembled brick oven style pizza with places like Revolve, Spin Neapolitan and Pie Craft leading the way with Revolving Brick Ovens and gourmet pizza. Pizza stations, walk-in boxes and mixers such as the old reliable Hobart are available new and used for the budget minded along with tons of information on sizes, capacities along with industry comparisons.
4.Finance. Today you can basically call up a company like Lease Corp Of America(LCA) fill out your application online and know virtually the same day if you are qualified for a loan. Those of us who remember having to make an appointment with loan officer, fill out endless paperwork while being scrutinized within an in inch of your life under a microscope will attest that the process is light years from where it has been and tell you how lucky you are.
5.Printing. This may seem like something too little to mention but with today's digital media and the ability to do it all virtually on line there is an amazing amount of time, effort and money saved. In the old days you would have to consult with a printer to make your deal on printing. Then you would have to consult with a graphic designer to do your layout and maybe even a specialized menu designee to  help you. This took time, from appointments to initial design to a rough sketch. Then you would have to go back and forth on corrections as you finalized your idea. Once that was done you have to have it proofread and hope you and your proofreader caught all the errors. One error I fondly remember was at the First Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza on Staten Island. We were all set and made our first huge purchase of several hundred thousand menus for in house, mailing and door to door delivery but we all missed the "Ground Bee" instead of ground beef on the pizza menu. We laughed about it for a long time since we had to print so many menus to save a few dollars. Fortunately you don't have to got through that incredibly time consuming operation today. Not only that but you can do it all from the comfort of your home and with computers, digital design, limited run printing options, cheap online graphic designers and still save time without taking the big risk of large runs.
6.Staff. Hiring and finding employees is easier than ever. You don't have hand a sign in the window and hope someone sees it or spend ridiculous amounts of money on classified ads in the local papers. Graig's list will get you more applicants than you can shake a stick at in most areas.
7.Promotion. Getting yourself known with the internet makes it simple. Social media, websites, blogs and press releases will get you known and open the door to customers. If you do a great job with your product, service and presentation people will talk. Your signage, uniforms and design have a lot to do with this.  Yes people will talk so make sure you do it right from the start with all your ducks in a row and a great pizza. You can call the Pizza School of New York if you are not certain of your product.
7. Marketing. Yes this is different from promoting yourself or your place. This is actually offering your product for sale by way of Newspaper, social media, TV, Radio, mailings, door hangers and however else you can get your product in front of a potential customer and tell them to buy it.
8.Location. Location scouting can be done via many outlets now with many realtors competing for business. With the internet, emails and google earth you can even see a place from a street view and decide if it is even worth looking at before wasting your precious time.
9.Training. With video, internet, Youtube, Drop Box etc. there are so many ways to present data to your staff, update recipes and procedures and keep everyone on the same page that even multiple locations become easier to manage when you get to that point.
10.Computerization. Point of sale order taking, inventory, ticket printing and display have made management a great deal more organized. The systems can track best sellers integrate promotional items and sales while even tracking deliveries and scheduling orders of food or reminding you of up coming catering or previously scheduled deliveries.
Of course all these wonderful reasons for it being easier still require the entrepreneur to step into the ring and make his purpose known. My respect and admiration goes to you my friends that make the attempt. I wish you the best of luck. Marc Cosentino

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Who will be the Chipotle of Pizza?

Brick Oven 

Brick Oven
Pizza has been around since the days when Roman soldiers cooked bread on flat rocks around camp fires and it is finally catching on with the rest of the world. Moreover, in last few decades it has become an everyday item in the United States and with many of the big players now understanding the value, speed and flavor created in a brick oven it is rapidly becoming a phenomena with the lunch crowd  in the exploding Fast Casual Pizza segment. The ability to cook fast and consistently in revolving brick ovens has made it possible for  many of the up and coming concepts to expand at an alarming rate due to ease of training and operation. In the past old fashioned fixed deck brick ovens required a highly skilled pizza man to operate and were more suited to small operations doing the traditional types of pizza. This was limiting and not effective when expansion required a lot of specialized training and then the success of the concept depended on the skill of a few at crucial employees. The revolving brick oven not only cooks faster and more consistently but it is virtually employee proof with its ease of training and operation. Not only that but with a revolving brick oven you have the ability of avoiding the dreaded oven fade(when the deck of a regular brick oven gets cold from continuous use requiring shutting down the oven to build up heat).These revolving ovens have made it easy for operators to make consistent pizza every time while even though they are baking over one thousand pizzas a day! Yes the revolution is on again in America and the Fast Casual Pizza concept is leading the way. 
Brick Oven Pizza