I had another Joseppi's Topper recently, and there were a few characteristics that I feel are worth mentioning:
1. The bottom of the crust had some blisters (mostly on the outside, I believe). Not a lot, but some. I don't think this is a common characteristic of Joseppi's pizza, but it may be somewhat common.
The blisters suggest to me that the skin was sheeted at least a few hours before it was used (or probably even longer), and also that the skin may have been cold when baked. The blisters also suggest that the dough may have been made and sheeted a day earlier, then kept cold.
2. The crust had a little bit of an overfermented feel. What I mean is that the crust seemed just a little dense and hard, which to me tends to indicate overfermentation.
Largely because of this characteristic, but in conjunction with point #1, I feel like they probably bulk ferment their dough, which previously I thought they may not do. I mean, you just can't get those characteristics without doing a long ferment. However, since the crust did not have much crater action, or any other signs of lengthy fermentation, I feel pretty sure it was stored in the fridge beginning immediately after sheeting and ending very shortly before baking, and also that it probably spent a lot of time fermenting before it was sheeted.
3. The crust didn't seem like it had risen much (after being sheeted), plus it didn't have much of that crater characteristic on the bottom.
This kind of goes along with my second point.
Here's what I think it all means:
- Dough is probably made in the morning every day, to be used the same day, but might be made the day before it's used.
- Dough bulk ferments at room temperature throughout the day, or at least for a few hours.
- Several dozen skins (or more) are sheeted and panned before lunch rush. I think I'm leaning toward believing they probably sheet all the day's dough before the lunch rush, rather than sheeting a good portion of dough before lunch rush, then sheeting the rest of the dough before dinner rush.
- A few dozen of those skins are placed on racks above the make line.
- The remaining skins are refrigerated, then pulled from the cooler maybe 1-2 hours before they are needed. In some cases, like with the pizza I had recently, the dough skin may be used considerably sooner than one or two hours after being removed from the fridge.
- The dough is probably pretty similar to a New York style dough, with a hydration percentage in the upper 50s.
- The yeast percentage should be just enough to end up with dough that can bulk ferment for maybe 12 hours before finally becoming unusable.
Other thoughts about Joseppi's pizza:
- There is nothing crispy about their crust. It is mostly soft but has a little bit of crunch on the outer edge.
- The cheese is provolone. It's not Grande, and I don't think it's cheap stuff, but I don't know what brand it is.
- The sauce seems to be made with a pretty good quality tomato product. I would be inclined to think probably something from Stanislaus, but I don't know which product. I think Joseppi's sauce contributes more to the flavor of the pizza than a lot of other places' sauce. I'm probably never going to figure out how to make their sauce, but that may help. The only other thing I can really say about their sauce that might be helpful, at least right now, is that there is a noticeable amount of oregano in it. There may also be a noticeable amount of sugar.
- I bought my most recent pizza in the evening. I think it was probably around 7:00. This may not seem like important information at first, but I think it is, because pizzas I get from Joseppi's in the mid-afternoon don't seem to have that nearly overfermented characteristic. One thing this tells me is that there seems to be a very good chance that Joseppi's makes dough every morning, mostly for use the same day. In fact, it suggests to me that they may manage their dough the same way Pizza Hut used to manage their thin and crispy dough (when they still used fresh dough).
- The dough is stiff enough that it should not cause any problems with a sheeter, but it is soft enough that sometimes the crust thickness can be a little inconsistent across a pizza. I get the feeling this crust thickness inconsistency may be from when workers position the skin on the pan; that sometimes prep workers just can't help pressing a small part of the skin a little too hard. The small inconsistencies in thickness are also a big part of what make me think the dough is pretty soft; just a little bit stiffer than New York style dough.
If anything I have said here doesn't add up to you, please point it out.