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Thoughts from Tom Cortopassi

Sharing Success: The Basement Rule!

One of my favorite days each winter is when many of my family members gather to make homemade salami and sausage. This family tradition started in Italy many generations ago and thankfully came to America with my Nonno (grandfather) Amerigo and his closest relatives.

Andy’s Pizza Washington DC

A few years ago, Andy Brown convinced a successful pizzeria owner to teach him the business. In the process, he fell in love with the art and science of pizza baking. Opening his own place in 2018, Andy focused on learning all he could about dough preparation, fermentation, and hydration to the gentle handling techniques which influence crust texture and density!

Key Idea – In addition to perfecting his own dough recipe, Andy worked to identify
the most flavorful, highest quality ingredients and toppings, by repeatedly comparing top brands in blind, side-by-side tastings. Soon his clientele began to grow as Word of Mouth spread about his place.

To keep perfecting “the main thing,” Andy limited his menu to strictly pizza and a variety of premium craft beers, wines, and sodas in single cans. To help guests keep multiple beverages chilled, he also sells reusable coolers and throws in the ice for free.

Despite the Pandemic, the popularity of Andy’s Pizza kept growing, leading him to open a second store, followed by
a third.

Overcoming Oven Capacity

At their cozy Philadelphia storefront pizzeria Pizzetta, co-owners Davide Lubrano and Vinny Gallagher specialize in sourdough pizzas made with traditional starters and lengthy rise times. Their crust’s signature flavor and especially light, airy texture has made Pizzetta increasingly popular with locals. Growth has been a mixed blessing as rising customer demand increasingly bumps up against their current oven capacity.

The partners are particularly sensitive to not allowing peak oven capacity to sacrifice “bake quality.” That is, trying to push too many pies through a busy oven prevents the deck from properly reheating, risking disappointing customers with soft “underbaked” pies. They also don’t want excessive wait times to disappoint their best regulars.

They plan to eventually tear out a fryer to add more deck ovens. But until then, they have come up with some unique steps to solve the capacity challenge.

Key Idea – First, they determined an upper limit to orders they can properly bake per hour to still allow proper deck heating. When they start approaching this limit, they adjust their online order-taking software to reduce the number of online orders it will accept per hour. As a result, online consumers find that they can only access a limited number of oven “time slots” staggered through the evening. Metering online demand allows David and Vinny to keep things timely for both in-person guests and phone orders.

Best of Both Worlds

For three decades, Frank’s Pizza and Pasta has satisfied Baltimore locals with great- tasting Italian specialties.

Key Idea – To appeal to both younger and older takeout customers, second-generation
owner Gerry Buontempo offers BOTH online electronic ordering to attract younger consumers and
voice-to-voice phone ordering to satisfy older regulars. Adding electronic ordering has helped Gerry expand hiscustomerbase. As a result, more than half of Gerry’s takeout orders now arrive electronically through his POS and flow seamlessly to his kitchen “ticket printer.”

Gerry Buontempo, Owner
Frank’s Pizza and Pasta
Baltimore, MD

La Vera Cucina:

Pollo Francese

A favorite comfort food for Chicago restaurateurs Vicki and Michael Nelson and their family is Pollo Francese. Especially for Vicki, who grew up in an Italian restaurant family, the aroma of chicken browning with freshly cut lemons instantly rekindles fond memories of enjoying this dish at a favorite ristorante back in New York – The Milanese Restaurant in Poughkeepsie. While the Nelsons prefer vividly robust lemon flavor and aroma, they suggest adjusting lemon levels to your own family’s tastes!