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.