Author Topic: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations  (Read 3567 times)

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Offline Pizza De Puta

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Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« on: August 14, 2012, 02:37:44 AM »
We are researching the feasibility of opening a New York Pizza restaurant.  Right now I'm leaning toward a menu of about 8 different pizzas plus giving the customers the option to customize combinations of toppings they'd like to order.  I am looking for personal favorites that some of the board members enjoy.  I want everything that makes it to the menu to be an absolute home run, best-I've-ever-had, wow-this-is-good, experience.

When it comes to pizza, I am very conservative and prudish, not wishing to experiment when I go out to eat.  I can eat salami and mushroom all day or pepperoni, too, but I need to venture outside the traditional box that I prefer.  Many of my would-be customers don't think the way I do (an important concept to understand in marketing anything) and they may prefer some combinations of toppings that I wouldn't normally consider for myself.  (I don't care for green bell peppers, for instance, but most people do).

Would anybody care to share what is their personal favorite NY pizza and what toppings does it include?
Any pics or links would be appreciated, as well.


We are going to start having a series of pizza parties where friends, neighbors, or other innocent victims can sample some of these pizzas we prepare and get their input.  My goal is to have the menu filled-out and solid as nails before I go any farther.  If I do my job right, my guests will eventually be begging us to open.  If I don't, they'll just drink all my beer and go home! :-D
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 03:07:01 PM by Pizza De Puta »
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Online TXCraig1

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 09:43:38 AM »
My NY-style favories are:

- Cheese and crushed red pepper w/ fresh basil added post-bake (Ideally the crushed red pepper would be Calabrian chilies which I would also add post-bake)
- Pepperoni
- Pepperoni and (some sort of black) olives
- Pepperoni and Jalapeno (I prefer fresh, but pickled is OK as a last resort)
- Sausage, mushrooms, onions

Out of curiosity, why not just have a list of toppings and let your guests pick/pay al la carte?

Craig
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Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 10:01:40 AM »
Keep it simple. Don't California-ize it. Don't offer a bunch of specialty pies unless they really are special. And even if you think you have some special specialty pies, still don't do it. Make your menu easy to read. Just be real.

Do you ever notice how In-N-Out is always slammed, both in the dining room and the drive-thru? Almost every single store, from open to close. Why do you suppose that happens? It's because there's no BS when you go to In-N-Out. No foo-foo "gourmet" BS and no complicated menu BS. No wrong order BS. No overpriced food BS.

In-N-Out Burger: Great food, great service, great atmosphere, clean dining room, clean parking lot, etc. And if that's not enough, they're underpriced.

When will the rest of California learn?

Offline GlennC.

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2012, 10:20:44 AM »
But In-N-Out does have a rather extensive "secret menu".

As far as topping go - my favorites are 1) a marinara pie with thinly sliced jalapeno and 2) smoked mozz with cherry tomatoes and olive oil.
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Offline JD

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2012, 10:56:43 AM »
My absolute favorite NY style pizzas are Fried eggplant, sliced sausage (not crumbled), and Buffalo chicken (all separate pizzas).


Buffalo chicken pizza (when done right) is the best thing since sliced pizza!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 11:00:23 AM by motofrk »
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Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2012, 11:23:12 AM »
But In-N-Out does have a rather extensive "secret menu".

But people who want the secret menu items/procedures already know about them. Have you ever been to the In-N-Out beside LAX? If so, imagine how much more of a zoo that place would be if the secret menu was shown on the physical menu. Imagine how much longer the line would be, and how inefficient the service would be, simply because people would spend more time trying to make up their minds. And they'd still end up ordering from the regular menu anyway.

In-N-Out's physical menu is beautiful to me. (And I usually order a 3x3, which is not on the menu.)

Wish I had a pic of the menu at a pizzeria near LAX that I tried to help earlier this year. Day after day I watched people walk in (and right back out) after looking at the cluttered, pretentious menu filled with specialty pies that made no sense.

Even Californians are sick of "California-style."

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2012, 11:27:54 AM »
As far as topping go - my favorites are 1) a marinara pie with thinly sliced jalapeno and 2) smoked mozz with cherry tomatoes and olive oil.

Simple. No BS.

Offline scott123

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2012, 11:36:19 AM »
Out of curiosity, why not just have a list of toppings and let your guests pick/pay al la carte?

This.

Also, I strongly resonate with Brian Spangler's 3 topping maximum rule. New Yorkers seem to follow this instinctually, but the rest of the world needs a little help  :)

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2012, 11:54:07 AM »
This.

Also, I strongly resonate with Brian Spangler's 3 topping maximum rule. New Yorkers seem to follow this instinctually, but the rest of the world needs a little help  :)

Especially the California part of the world.

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2012, 11:54:48 AM »
Great dialog, these are some of the issues I want to work out now before leaping.  I am particularly interested in combinations of toppings that work beautifully together and offer taste complexity without becoming bulky, soggy, greasy or muddled from over-topping a pie.

To TXC—The menu model I’m developing will allow the customer to choose their own options, if desired.  However, certain combinations of toppings make a happy marriage and I think having a number of named pies will add structure and convenience for some customers.  A successful NY pizza joint in Berkeley uses a pricing structure of $20 for cheese, $24 for a custom . . . and that’s it.  No tax, change, nothing.  I’m really drawn to the simplicity of this pricing model.

To AR-I hear where you are coming from and you make valid points.  Keeping the menu simple and on one page is important.  Making sure everything on the menu is knock-your-socks-off-good is even more important.  I’m going to niche this thing at the upper end of the pizza scale by producing a premium pizza with premium toppings.  I plan to come in at $20 for a good NY pepperoni and let the price whores take their business to Little Caesars for their crap $5.99 version.  I’ll be able to get this price because anything equivalent is 100 miles away.

I want to keep 2/3rds of my small menu to a very high degree of fidelity to New York City pizza.  However, we are in a tourist town in California with lots of traffic from the Bay Area.  Offering a dynamite dinner salad (heresy to you New Yorkers who buy pizza by the slice, I know), and a couple (and just a couple) of menu items that aren’t quite so heavy will appeal to many out here.   I personally love the small pools of hot oil that develop on top of a NY slice but a large percentage of my first-time customers would call this “greasy” and would not be back.

I think a California formaggio using quality skim milk cheeses and 25% less of it, along with a few well-harmonized veggies, would be popular here.  Definitely not my choice when ordering a pizza for myself, but potentially a viable option listed toward the end of the menu IF it could be made to taste great.  A fresh mozzarella and basil margherita pizza made on a NY style crust would probably work well, too.   The challenge is to satisfy this portion of the upper-end market without compromising the restaurant’s quality, image, or focus.  I know In-and-Out is successful with their “Henry Ford” menu but I think I need to cast a slightly larger net here in the land of fruits and nuts.

To Glenn-I like the idea of building a pizza around smoked mozz.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 07:34:05 PM by Pizza De Puta »
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Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2012, 12:11:29 PM »
I know In-and-Out is successful with their “Henry Ford” menu but I think I need to cast a slightly larger net here in the land of fruits and nuts.

I've thought about this a lot, and it does seem pretty much impossible to make a pizzeria menu as simple as In-N-Out's menu, unless you operate a trailer or something. But still, if I was able to open my own place, simplicity would be one of the key themes, even in the marketing strategy.

Do you mind revealing what town you're in? Are you the person who mentioned possibly opening a pizzeria in the Yosemite area?

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2012, 12:16:55 PM »
By the way, I love California; particularly eating there. As far as I'm concerned, LA is the burger and donut capital of the world. And the Mexican food is cheap and amazing. The Thai areas smell unbelieveable, too, because of the food. And so much more.

But California is Pizza Hell.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2012, 12:48:08 PM »
Would anybody care to share what is their personal favorite NY pizza and what toppings does it include?

Cheese.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2012, 12:52:20 PM »
Oh, and don't forget lizard!  ;)

Offline GlennC.

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2012, 12:59:52 PM »
But people who want the secret menu items/procedures already know about them. Have you ever been to the In-N-Out beside LAX? If so, imagine how much more of a zoo that place would be if the secret menu was shown on the physical menu. Imagine how much longer the line would be, and how inefficient the service would be, simply because people would spend more time trying to make up their minds. And they'd still end up ordering from the regular menu anyway.

In-N-Out's physical menu is beautiful to me. (And I usually order a 3x3, which is not on the menu.)

Wish I had a pic of the menu at a pizzeria near LAX that I tried to help earlier this year. Day after day I watched people walk in (and right back out) after looking at the cluttered, pretentious menu filled with specialty pies that made no sense.

Even Californians are sick of "California-style."

Agreed.  I see your point.
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Offline scott123

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2012, 01:50:52 PM »
RE, New York pizzerias have a long history of offering salads and pasta, and New Yorkers have an equally long history of generally avoiding those salads and pasta  :) If you're going to put in the necessary labor to do quality salads, then I applaud your decision.

A fresh mozzarella and basil margherita pizza made on a NY style crust would probably work well, too.

Would it?  Do you know how many non Neapolitan 'margherita' pizzas are sold in NY?  I would say that it's about 1,000 aged mozzarella pies that are sold for every single fresh mozzarella pie.  Also, in order to do fresh mozzarella justice and not expose it to too much heat, you've really got to get the bake time down to the 3 minute realm.  Unless you buy a new oven, I don't think 3 is happening.

Here, a $20 pepperoni pizza would be scorned, regardless of quality, but, for your market, it's not a bad idea. The pizza has to be absolutely flawless, though. If it's just noticeably better than your competition, I'm skeptical that people will be able to rationalize the expenditure, especially in this economy.  I hate to sound like a broken record, but if you want to charge $20 a pizza, you've got to be able to produce a chef bruno marsal mb quality pie, and that oven, even with a thermostat mod, can't do that.

Offline scott123

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2012, 01:56:36 PM »
But California is Pizza Hell.


From a Neapolitan perspective, California is not a Pizzza Hell. As far as NY style goes, everywhere these days is Pizza Hell.

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/07/vitos-pizza-in-los-angeles-ca.html

I'm in NY, and I can go to one or two places that are close to this, but the only way I can match it is from my own oven.  I'm not saying LA is pizza heaven, but it's no more hellish than NY.

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2012, 02:57:25 PM »
Unless you buy a new oven, I don't think 3 is happening.

Well, of course I'd have to buy a stacked pair of new ovens.  The old beast in the backyard is for practice, it could never hold up single-handedly to daily commercial use or produce the volume of pizza needed during rush.

I saw a pair of MB 60s that were two years old from a failed restaurant that the guy wanted $7K for--killer deal and not too far away.  I wish I was closer to being ready but I've just begun the journey.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 03:09:44 PM by Pizza De Puta »
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Offline scott123

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2012, 03:25:37 PM »
Sorry, RE, I thought this was going to be your production oven. My bad.

If the pair of MB 60s was in good shape, that would be an amazing deal.

Offline Pizza De Puta

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Re: Favorite Pizza Topping Recommendations
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2012, 06:00:51 PM »
Here, a $20 pepperoni pizza would be scorned, regardless of quality, but, for your market, it's not a bad idea. The pizza has to be absolutely flawless, though. If it's just noticeably better than your competition, I'm skeptical that people will be able to rationalize the expenditure, especially in this economy.  I hate to sound like a broken record, but if you want to charge $20 a pizza, you've got to be able to produce a chef bruno marsal mb quality pie.

A quick price check today on the two major players in my town.  Both do $1 million plus in annual sales.

Mountain Mikes ("Large" and "Mountain" sizes)
Pepperoni 14"=$17.39 and 20"=$28.99
Combo 14"=$23.49 and 20"=$36.49

Round Table ("Large" and "Extra-Large" sizes)
Pepperoni 14"=$19.99 and 16"=$22.99
Combo 14"=$23.99 and 16"=$27.99

IF I can progress to the point of making a quality NY pizza at 18", I think $20 for a pepperoni and $25 for a combination would sell.  Hell, my pizzas, warts and all, are already heads and shoulders ahead of these guys, and I've only been baking for a month.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 06:26:49 PM by Pizza De Puta »
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