Growing up in a pizza family, Filippo Sparacio long worked for others while dreaming of running his own place. That dream came true in 2019, the year before the pandemic, when he took over an existing location in Haddon Heights, NJ, and renamed it Brooklyn Original Pizza. To better stand out from the crowd, he upgraded all his ingredients and increased his prices to match.
KEY IDEA – In addition to traditional round pies, Filippo also began specializing in a unique square style he calls “Sicilian Thin.” Somewhere in between thick Sicilian and a thinner Grandma pie, Filippo’s signature Sicilian Thins began growing in popularity.
Beyond the unique shape, Filippo has further improved the light, airy texture of his signature squares by lengthening his cold-rise times, flavoring his dough with premium olive oil, and leavening each batch with a biga starter culture
to enhance its flavor-complexity. As a result, many of Filippo’s regulars travel 45 minutes or more to enjoy his pies!
Part of his signature crust texture comes from its precise bake. In fact, the motto he shares with customers is “Done Well, Never Burnt.” It reflects his belief that a consistently thorough bake creates the perfect balance between a crunchy exterior and light, fluffy interior.
Then the pandemic hit. Regulations closed his dining room. Labor shortages made it hard to prepare his whole menu. Filippo hit a crossroads.
KEY IDEA – Filippo decided to focus where he was strongest. He reevaluated his entire menu based on each item’s labor-intensity, profit contribution, and popularity. He dropped high labor, low profit cheesesteaks and burgers and focused on aggressively growing his pizza business … despite the pandemic!
Customer response to his superior quality food had been extremely positive. However, Filippo tried to envision what obstacles could keep him from achieving that goal.
That is when he focused on oven capacity. In working for others, Filippo had long observed that some pizzerias unknowingly self-limit their access to potential growth. That is because their current oven space isn’t large enough to accommodate all their current customers during peak demand, let alone new ones. When things get busiest, crowded ovens force them to delay or turn away orders.
KEY IDEA – Similarly, baking-quality can also suffer if too many pies are forced through busy deck ovens faster than their decks can properly reheat. Such “underbakes” also risk disappointing loyal regulars.
Instead of playing it safe financially because of the pandemic, Filippo tore out his grill to make room for additional ovens so that he could keep promptly satisfying every order and perfecting each bake, no matter how busy he gets now and in the future.
And judging from his steadily growing sales, happy customers, and recognition by a regional travel website as one of his state’s 20 best pizzerias, his bet continues paying off. As for inflation, Filippo says, “I don’t worry about my loyal customers.If costs go up, my prices do too.”