What It's Like to Work at Norma's Pizza Stand

Started by Rainier42, April 13, 2020, 11:14:33 AM

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Rainier42

I have been meaning to write this but my wife and I have been so busy I just never could find the time to collect my thoughts and put pen to paper.  With the virus hitting and forced to take a timeout from our day-to-day activities the time is right.

I first heard about Norma and her Pizza Stand in the early Summer of 2017 when I came across an article in a local PA newspaper.  The article spoke about her Caputo Cup win, gave a review of the pies she makes and a description of her Stand in Root’s Market.  My wife and I started to make our own pizza in February of 2009 after we took a pizza making class in NYC together.  Afterwards, we decided we would travel around the tri-State area and hit up as many of the well known pizza shops as we could … all the New Haven, CT spots, Badia’s in Philly, Star Tavern in NJ (a favorite from when I was growing up in NJ), various shops at the NJ shore, and shops in NYC. So it was a given that Norma’s Pizza Stand was marked as a destination for us.

We first went to visit Norma’s in August of 2017.  I remember the day well … it was hot, humid, and the parking lot at Root’s market was filled, and we had to drive around looking for a space.  Since this was our first visit, we weren’t quite sure where we were going and wandered around lost for a bit before finding Norma’s.  This was around noon-time and the lunchtime crowd was hitting with people everywhere waiting for a slice or two or a pie.  We were able to order, introduced ourselves to Norma and had a conversation with her in spite of how busy she was.  Pizza, as expected was excellent and exceeded our expectations.

Our next trip out was early December of that year and again, we had a wonderful visit and ate ourselves some excellent pizza.

Early January/February of 2018 Norma put a note on her FB page that her assistant had taken ill and was asking if someone would be willing to give her a hand until a new assistant could be hired.  I had just been laid from my high tech job in the telecom industry and thought working at Norma’s one day/week might be fun so I PM’d Norma with my contact info and waited.  A few hours later Norma called me and we spoke about what I would be doing, time to start, what to wear, etc.  All told, I worked 4/5 times for Norma after which she was able to hire a full-time helper.  So here is my impression …

-   Norma’s Pizza Stand is small and one quickly learns how to maneuver around to avoid collisions. 
-   Norma’s is always busy and as a helper your time is divided between taking money, serving customers, washing trays/utensils, cutting pizzas as they come out of the oven, and cutting toppings.
-   Customers show up first thing in the morning (mostly other shop owners/workers) who stop in for a few slices for breakfast, at lunch and dinner time there are lines of people waiting for their slices or to pick up a whole pie they pre-ordered. 
-   Norma’s is a destination for pizza lovers up and down the East coast … I met many who, like me and my wife, said they read about Norma’s Stand or saw a review on TV; then there are well know Pizzaiolos  (e.g., Paulie Gee) who visit regularly.  All-in-all, Norma has a wonderful customer base and a wonderful set of friends.

As I said above, it is busy at Norma’s.  So busy there is really no time to take a break during the day until after the dinner rush.  However, the time goes by quickly and I wouldn’t change a thing.  As nice and as helpful Norma is on this forum, she is as nice in person and just a delight to work for and really an excellent boss.  There is lots of conversation on pizza making throughout the day, and I found ideas and information flowed both ways.  Norma would always be trying new recipes, would then urge me to have a slice or two and ask my opinion.  Then there were the cookies she would purchase from the baker a few stands down from where we were.

Currently Norma’s is closed due to the virus, and we all hope it passes soon so she can reopen.  If Norma had a need for a helper would I volunteer again?  My answer is yes, in a heartbeat!
Simone family eating chant:  Mangia mangia mangia, can mangia no more then mangia some more!

foreplease

Thanks for sharing your impressions of 'A Day In The Life' with Norma. Also for taking the time to write this. You did an excellent job; a pleasure to read.
-Tony

Jon in Albany


bigMoose

Your description of Norma is spot on!  I was blessed to be able to spend part of a day with her in another members commercial kitchen.  It was one of the best afternoons I have had in my life, and made memories lasting a lifetime.  She is quite a special individual.
All the best, Dave

norma427

John,

Thanks so much for the nice write up. :)  Enjoyed having you as my helper and you had to make a pretty long trip to get to market!!  I learned a lot from you.  Your recent pizzas look amazing!! :chef: :pizza:  Also enjoyed talking to your wife and mother.  You were always a wonderful person with customers.

Not sure right now if I will go back to making pizzas at market.  Haven't even made one pizza since the last time I was there.  Doesn't even bother me that I haven't eaten any pizza's.  Have been working on fixing up my place at home, and that doesn't even include the shed where the pizza oven is sitting on a dolly on the floor.

Norma

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


norma427

Quote from: bigMoose on April 15, 2020, 08:53:08 PM
Your description of Norma is spot on!  I was blessed to be able to spend part of a day with her in another members commercial kitchen.  It was one of the best afternoons I have had in my life, and made memories lasting a lifetime.  She is quite a special individual.

Dave,

I also enjoyed us making pizza's at Walter's when he was in Ohio.  Your pizza's you made were the best!  :drool:

Norma

Rainier42

Quote from: norma427 on April 16, 2020, 05:23:01 AM
John,

Thanks so much for the nice write up. :)  Enjoyed having you as my helper and you had to make a pretty long trip to get to market!!  I learned a lot from you.  Your recent pizzas look amazing!! :chef: :pizza:  Also enjoyed talking to your wife and mother.  You were always a wonderful person with customers.

Not sure right now if I will go back to making pizzas at market.  Haven't even made one pizza since the last time I was there.  Doesn't even bother me that I haven't eaten any pizza's.  Have been working on fixing up my place at home, and that doesn't even include the shed where the pizza oven is sitting on a dolly on the floor.

Norma

Your words are too kind Norma ... Norma's Pizza Stand was/is your stage to set and you made it a pleasure to work there.

Breaks in our routine are good to take, it's at these times that seeds are planted deep inside which allow us to move to the next level.
Simone family eating chant:  Mangia mangia mangia, can mangia no more then mangia some more!

waltertore

Norma's Pizza is a one of a kind operation and I am lucky to have experienced it and most importantly taste it.  It is the best NY pizza I have eaten and will go down in pizzeria history :)  I am glad she and big moose got to hang out at smiling with hope bakery - my special education classroom - and make pizzas. 
PURCHASE OUR HANDMADE 22 GAUGE COLD ROLLED STEEL SICILIAN/GRANDMA PANS
https://www.swhenterprises.com/

norma427

Quote from: Rainier42 on April 16, 2020, 07:45:11 AM
Your words are too kind Norma ... Norma's Pizza Stand was/is your stage to set and you made it a pleasure to work there.

Breaks in our routine are good to take, it's at these times that seeds are planted deep inside which allow us to move to the next level.

John,

Norma's Pizza Stand was/is still my stage for now, it isn't the best organized.   :-D  To start off the place where the dough balls are opened is way too small.  To have to turn around to weigh cheese and get toppings isn't the best.  Where a helper like you had to cut the pizza's is way off too.  :-[ Too much crossing each other.  Wish it would have been a little bigger space to begin with.

Yes, while the Covid-19 virus is very bad, and will affect things for a long while, it is good to have a break to get much needed things done at home.

Norma


norma427

Quote from: waltertore on April 16, 2020, 01:51:46 PM
Norma's Pizza is a one of a kind operation and I am lucky to have experienced it and most importantly taste it.  It is the best NY pizza I have eaten and will go down in pizzeria history :)  I am glad she and big moose got to hang out at smiling with hope bakery - my special education classroom - and make pizzas.

Walter,

Things for your kind words!  I enjoyed your visit so much.  How would you like to make pizza's at that small stand?  Think I already know the answer.   :-D

I am so thankful I got the chance to come to your Smiling With Hope Bakery and experience your pizza's and learn from you.  Your pizza's are the best.  It was great hanging out with Dave too.  Your wife Judy is such a beautiful person too!   ;D

Norma

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Jackitup

Quote from: norma427 on April 16, 2020, 05:23:01 AM
John,

Thanks so much for the nice write up. :)  Enjoyed having you as my helper and you had to make a pretty long trip to get to market!!  I learned a lot from you.  Your recent pizzas look amazing!! :chef: :pizza:  Also enjoyed talking to your wife and mother.  You were always a wonderful person with customers.

Not sure right now if I will go back to making pizzas at market.  Haven't even made one pizza since the last time I was there.  Doesn't even bother me that I haven't eaten any pizza's.  Have been working on fixing up my place at home, and that doesn't even include the shed where the pizza oven is sitting on a dolly on the floor.

Norma

You've earned your time Norma, you take care of yourself!!!❤
Jon

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."-----------Mark Twain

"If you don't think you're getting what you should out of life.....maybe you're getting what you deserve."---------The Root Beer Lady

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth."---------Muhammad Ali

norma427

Quote from: Jackitup on April 17, 2020, 01:02:03 PM
You've earned your time Norma, you take care of yourself!!!❤

Thanks Jon!  You take care of yourself too!

Norma

A D V E R T I S E M E N T