Author Topic: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  (Read 6673 times)

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Offline Andrew Bellucci

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New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« on: March 02, 2014, 12:31:19 AM »
My name is Andrew Bellucci and I've come to Kuala Lumpur (KL) on a one year contract to open and operate a New York style pizzeria.  Scott123 thought it might be good to chronicle my experiences in a thread, so here we go. 

My quick background, I made pizza at Two Boots (gas oven) and Three of Cups (wood-fired oven) both in the East Village, NYC and then re-opened Lombardi's(coal-oven), in Little Italy, NYC.

The name of the operation is Mikey's Original New York Pizza and we're looking at a mid-April opening, with a soft opening and media invitation the week prior to the hard opening.  The food bloggers seem to wield a lot of influence in KL, so they'll all get invites, as well as the traditional media outlets.  My m.o. in dealing with the press is just be yourself, put out the best product possible and everything else falls into place.

The idea is to get this shop open and a second store open in December.  This first location is in Bangsar, KL.  Bangsar is a affluent neighborhood, mixed with ex-pats, foreign business people and the KL upper middle class.  It's in a section of town that has four streets with only restaurants and cafes.  There's a lot of night action - several places stay open 24 hours.

Our location will have indoor seating for 60, seating for 16 outside and we anticipate doing a brisk delivery business.  There is pizza in KL and it comes in two forms:  Domino's and Pizza Hut are the two big players; Papa John's has a presence but is a very distant 3rd.  The Domino's here all have seating (unlike NYC) and do a big business, as does Pizza Hut.  The other form are high-end Italian places, making Neapolitan style pies as part of the full Italian menu.

No one here does slices:  that's what we're here.

I'll update this thread as we progress towards opening.  I just came back from watching a spiral mixer in action (I've always worked with a 60-quart Hobart) and it looks like it can do the job, so we'll probably buy that one.  FYI, a new 60-quart Hobart here runs about $16,000.  The spiral mixer I saw can be had for $3,500 - the brand is Sinmag out of Taiwan - it's very similar to the Mechnosud IM44 in appearance.

I've included a couple of photos of the raw space and the mixer.

Until next time. . .


Offline Auralnauts

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 11:10:58 AM »
Congratulations pal. It is interesting to see some members go to other countries to open up pizzerias, hopefully all works well for you.

A question about the mixer, are you sure it's capable of handling a big load at least twice a day? If you're planning to seat at least 60 people, you'll have to think of how much dough you'll need for them and if that mixer can handle making that amount in fairly short intervals of rest.
Dough, stretch, sauce, cheese; check.

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 07:16:43 PM »
Thanks Aurelnauts! 

I am not a fan of belt-driven mixers for pizza dough - I've always been of the mind that they don't provide enough torque to handle a 50lb bag + the water.  But I saw this one in action.  It's used to make three batches of donut dough for this franchise http://www.bigappledonuts.com/.  I watched as the baker poured a 22.8K bag into the mixer and added the water.  The guy said he'd been doing the same thing with the same machine for 5 years.  The stiffness of the donut dough was close enough to pizza dough IMO, that I should be able to get the same result.  We shall see.

On another note - you're from Armenia - shouldn't you be using parcero instead of pal?  :)

Offline apizza

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 08:33:26 PM »
Andrew thanks for starting this thread. I bake at home and always try to learn from the posts of members. I also really enjoy reading about the ups and downs of those members who are doing pizza for customers. I know it's not an easy task  and congratulate you and others for jumping in and taking a chance. For me it's an adventure read. Best wishes for a great success.
Marty

Offline waltertore

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2014, 12:03:49 PM »
Andrew:  As a native of Newark NJ, my hat is off to you!  If you can run the places you did in NYC everything else should be downhill :)   I look forward to following your journey.  I lived in Brussels for 2.5 years and the cultural, language,  and food product differences were a real challenge.  Thanks for taking the time to share your ups and downs.  Walter

I run a pizzeria/bakery that teached cognitively delayed high school students entry level job skills.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a forgien country.........

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2014, 07:37:56 PM »
Hey Walter,

Thanks so much for the kind words.  Just a quick clarification - while I was an owner and did run Lombardi's, I was "only" a pizzaman at Two Boots (the original location on Avenue A) and Three of Cups.  I took a look at your operation on the Web; you are really doing great work out there.  I was just a little confused, because you're from Newark, NJ but now in Newark, Ohio - funny coincidence!

I was born in Jersey City, NJ and grew up there and Bayonne.  Great pizza in NJ as well, and I'm still a big fan of the Ironbound section of Newark when I need some good Brazilian Rodizio. 

And of course, one of my all time favorites:  Dickie Dee's on Bloomfield Avenue for that great Newark Culinary invention: the Double Italian Hot Dog!  Man I could go for one of those right now!  Hey, you wouldn't have a recipe for the type of bread they use at Dickee Dee's?  When I was a kid, we called that "Pizza Bread" or "Laguna Bread", kinda like an Italian Pita Bread.

Anyway, keep up the good work and we'll talk soon.

Offline waltertore

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 07:56:26 PM »
Andrew:  I wish I had gotten to meet you in NYC.  I haven't been back there in about 30 years. My whole family stills lives in NJ and when I go home it is mostly during the summer and we all meet at the shore. NYC sounds good but that ocean wins out every time!   I don't know that recipe. I was a jimmy buffs fan. I have made Italian hot dogs out here in OH and the people love them.  I used my regular pizza dough and just baked it as a risen ball, cut it in 1/2 and stuff it.  I use a 63% hydration with water, yeast, salt for our dough. Is it hard to find the right flour where you are?  What kind of ovens are you going to run?

  I drove cars for National Car rentals out of the old Newark airport in the mid 70's to JFK/LaGuardia. I worked with Portugeese guys from the Ironbound and they took me to great lunch places there.  I also played hockey for the Ukranian Sitch. I was the only non Ukraine on the team and my hockey career ended with a broken leg caused by drinking potato whiskey with the team before the game.  they drank it like water but it spun me out to where I fell on the ice and broke/dislocated my ankle.  their rink was in Ironbound.   Thanks for the support with my endeavor.  It is a trip being in 2 Newarks in 1 lifetime!  Newark OH is nothing like Newark NJ.  It is an old factory town that is in bad shape but no crime, traffic, cost of living, like home, and no food like home.  We run at capacity and I have all the perks of a being a business owner so to speak with no pressures.  Being a school teacher I just have to break even to keep the program alive.  How long did you own Lombardi's?   Walter
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 08:02:28 PM by waltertore »

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 09:23:37 PM »
Hey Walter,

Hey, Jersey Shore sounds better to me than NYC, especially during the summer.  We always went to Sandy Hook.  I think the original Jimmy Buff's closed, but they have one location somewhere in North Jersey.  I"ll try your way to make the pizza bread - should be simple enough.  Might be one of my "secret" menu items.

Love the Ironbound - it's a shame the rest of Newark is in the shape it's in.  My cousin is a cop in Newark - it's like a war zone after dark.  Glad to hear your current Newark is good - there's a lot to be said for quality of life.

I'm using a locally manufactured oven, by Berjaya.  It's a triple decker that I'm having retro-fitted to cook at 650 degrees.  Usually it can go to 590.  Here they have hi gluten flour, but it generally runs at about 12.5% protein.  I'm looking at several options and will let you know how I go - a lot will be determined in the 10 day period we've set aside for testing.

I spent 1992 and 1993 putting together the re-opening of Lombardi's.  I was a 33% owner from 1994-1995, along with Joan Volpe and Gerry Lombardi.

Offline JConk007

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2014, 09:34:42 PM »
Andrew ! cool stuff I am Bergen County NJ and know the areas you speak of very well... I have a small mobile wod fired pizza bus. Flirting with fire, Neapolitan style) and have sampled several Hundred (for real) slices here in NJ and NY area I know of Lombardis of course but never heard of the two boots, or three of cups, ? sure they were good! I like a fork Mixer for most dough works fine but as I sell the Mecnosud The IM 44 is a 50qt and can be had for around $4000 plus shipping! I Just Caution you on the Tiawanese brands They also work fine but are cheaper for a reason  ;)
Very interesting story wish you all the best ! keep the posts coming stories , challanges, pics, recipies ...
thanks again !
John
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 09:38:44 PM by JConk007 »
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Offline Auralnauts

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 10:48:51 PM »
On another note - you're from Armenia - shouldn't you be using parcero instead of pal?  :)

Hahaha, that made my day. Though parcero is only used around my region, I must say pal is not. Good luck to you, socio.
Dough, stretch, sauce, cheese; check.


Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2014, 09:23:54 PM »
but never heard of the two boots, or three of cups,


Both make very different pizza, but they're both very good at what they do.  Phil Hartman started in the East Village with a vision and turned it into an empire.  And the boys (Santo and Anthony ("Mummy") at Three of Cups have been doing it consistently well for a long time.
.
I learned a lot from both places, enough to parlay it into success at Lombardi's and forward.

http://www.threeofcupsnyc.com/About

http://www.twoboots.com/

Quote
I like a fork Mixer for most dough works fine but as I sell the Mecnosud The IM 44 is a 50qt and can be had for around $4000 plus shipping! I Just Caution you on the Tiawanese brands They also work fine but are cheaper for a reason  ;)


Thanks for the head's up - I am concerned, but after personally watching the local mixer in action, we're going with it.  BTW - what's a "fork mixer"?  Never heard that term before.  Of course, I'm a Hobart guy from way back.

Quote
Very interesting story wish you all the best ! keep the posts coming stories , challanges, pics, recipies ...
thanks again !
John


Will do!

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2014, 09:27:48 PM »
Hahaha, that made my day. Though parcero is only used around my region, I must say pal is not. Good luck to you, socio.

I spent a few years in Colombia and have been going down there on a regular basis since 1998 when it was still a bit sketchy.  Just got off the phone with my current favorite from Itagui - she wants to know when she's coming to Malaysia.  Maybe in a few months. . .   Colombia is where I plan to retire, hopefully sooner than later.

Offline apizza

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2014, 09:42:18 PM »
Andrew, I'm wondering if you anticipate having any problems getting the kind of ingredients that you desire in that part of the world. I imagine with your background you have your favorites. Are they available at  a reasonable cost, or will you have to make adjustments?
Marty

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2014, 09:59:23 PM »
Hey Marty,

That's a very fair question and frankly it was the primary concern going into this venture. So far, I have been able to find all of the ingredients I need, now I'm working on price and quality.  A lot of the meat and cheese comes from Australia and New Zealand - certainly Australia has a good rep for beef.

Also, we have to look at the big picture here:  I am setting up the first in what hopefully will become a chain of pizzerias in SEA, so it's always going to be a fine line between price/quality/availability.  This is different for me because making the best pie possible isn't an exclusionary goal here.  The goal is to introduce the slice to a population that gorges itself on Domino's and Pizza Hut.  We want people to look at our pie and Domino's pie and see the difference.  As opposed to comparing my pie against the great pies of NYC.

And here's another challenge:  in Malaysia, you have three different types of food places:  Halal, non-pork, and everything goes.  We are going non-pork, which so far is a challenge only to Italian sausage, which I'll be making myself (and later contract out to a local butcher, using my recipe).  Making pepperoni is not an option, due to the complexities and storage time.  I haven't found a pepperoni yet that I've really liked - I have found two that were "good".  So the search goes on.

All to say, I knew these challenges going in and so far I haven't seen anything that will prevent us from making the best pizza in Malaysia.

Offline dmckean44

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 12:14:36 AM »
I'm curious about your non-pork Italian sausage. I'd love to see a recipe.

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2014, 08:41:14 AM »
I'm curious about your non-pork Italian sausage. I'd love to see a recipe.

Not as curious as I am!  Good thing I stocked up on "Just for Men" hair color, cause I'm getting greyer by the minute!  I've got some recipes, but I won't know anything until we test in a couple of weeks.  I'm counting on the power of anise/fennel seeds as well as some other spices.  We shall see.

Offline waltertore

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2014, 01:46:58 PM »
Andrew:  Thanks for that info.  My grandfather lived  year round from the mid 50's till his death in Ortley Beach so I got to spend every summer there.   Did you ever hear of Tino's in Ortley? IMO one of the best NY style deck pies ever.  They are no longer there.  I remember living in Brussels.  We had to plan like 3 hours for what would take an hour at home due to the language/cultural differences.   I never heard of those ovens.  What type oven do they resemble adn will they be gas fired?  If so, how do you get to 650 and not have uneven browning of top and bottom?  We use old blodgett 1000's  with the original stones.  I push them to like 565 and any more than that and the bottoms will burn to fast.   Cool you are making  your own sausage without pork.  Should be quite a puzzle to figure out!   We use full strength and the protien is 12.6 I think.  It makes a great pizza at the temps we cook at.  I work with the Amish here and use an organic whole wheat flour mixture to make bagels for one of our clients.  The protien level is unknown but the bagels stink due to the low protien and coarse grind his horses and stone wheel produce.  How fine is the grind on the flour over there?  Do they bleach/bromate? Walter
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 02:32:46 PM by waltertore »

Offline Andrew Bellucci

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2014, 12:24:09 AM »
Andrew:  Thanks for that info.  My grandfather lived  year round from the mid 50's till his death in Ortley Beach so I got to spend every summer there.   Did you ever hear of Tino's in Ortley? IMO one of the best NY style deck pies ever.  They are no longer there.


I'm afraid I never heard of Tino's, but it looks like it was a great place run by great people.  http://simeone.us/

Quote

I remember living in Brussels.  We had to plan like 3 hours for what would take an hour at home due to the language/cultural differences. 


Sorry I didn't know you back then, I could of helped out with the language part - I don't speak Flemish, but my French is real good - my mother is from Strasbourg in Alsace, France.

Quote
I never heard of those ovens.  What type oven do they resemble adn will they be gas fired?
 

http://www.berjayasteel.com/ke_g1.htm  We're getting the G270-3 and yes it's a gas-fired oven
Quote
If so, how do you get to 650 and not have uneven browning of top and bottom?  We use old blodgett 1000's  with the original stones.  I push them to like 565 and any more than that and the bottoms will burn to fast.


I'll be playing around with it, maybe I won't crank it all the way, maybe I'll use two decks at different temps - one high to start, and one lower to finish. Or maybe I'll use my special tool to finish - see picture below.
Quote
Cool you are making  your own sausage without pork.  Should be quite a puzzle to figure out!   We use full strength and the protien is 12.6 I think.  It makes a great pizza at the temps we cook at.  I work with the Amish here and use an organic whole wheat flour mixture to make bagels for one of our clients.  The protien level is unknown but the bagels stink due to the low protien and coarse grind his horses and stone wheel produce.  How fine is the grind on the flour over there?  Do they bleach/bromate? Walter

I don't know what the grind is, I'll find out and let you know.  But it is unbleached and unbromated.

Offline waltertore

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2014, 08:24:19 AM »
Andrew:  You are a man of many hats!  Bon jour and como sava?  I look forward to seeing how the ovens work.   That is cool you looked up Tinos.  They were way under the radar working out of a house converted to the pizzeria.  The pictures on that site don't do the pies justice.  Walter

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Re: New York Style Pizzeria in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2014, 12:33:26 AM »
Well, we're getting there.  Eyeing an April 3rd opening, hope to be able to do some testing next weekend, by then all of the kitchen equipment should be in.
Still have our work cut out for us.  Hiring is really hard, especially in a country where unemployment is 3%.  Getting the ingredients is proving a little easier than I thought, but getting pizza equipment is very hard.  Still haven't found a pizza peel or a person who can make one.  If I don't have one by next week, I'll make a couple myself - this isn't rocket science.

Gonna try to head to Bangkok this weekend, it's a 2 hour flight from here - will probably be my last touch of recreation before the workload sets in.  But as much as I love Thailand, I can't wait to get my hands on some dough!


 

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