First of all, good luck with your pizza venture!
I have lived in Baltimore, MD for ten years now and have visited nearly all of the pizza establishments of note in the city and many of the crappy pizzerias as well. I will eventually open a pizzeria in Baltimore, but am not quite in a position to do so yet (either from a monetary or recipe standpoint).
Alot of great advice already in this thread, but certainly a very
clear vision of exactly who your ideal target audience is and then obtaining a location in/near where your targeted demographic is concentrated is one of many steps.
There is certainly a growing scene of new pizzerias in Baltimore, with Joe Squared and Iggies leading the way. In addition, Woodberry Kitchen (rated by Bon Appetit as a top 10 best new restaurant in the country) and B&O American Brasserie have started offering flatbreads and pizzas as well. A brand new pizzeria is opening in the desireable Harbor East location by the end of September. Some pizzerias people like in Baltimore, by neighborhood are listed below. Not saying I personally like all of these, but they are successful and popular. I'm guessing you have been to many of these:
(Penn North) Joe Squared website: http://www.joesquared.com/
(Mount Vernon) Iggies website: http://www.iggiespizza.com/
(Southwest Baltimore/SoWeBo) Zellas Pizzeria: http://www.zellaspizzeria.com/
(Federal Hill) Pub Dog Pizza: http://www.pubdog.net/
(Harbor East) Bagby Pizza Company: http://bagbypizza.com/about.php
(Downtown/Close To Inner Harbor) B&O American Brasserie: http://www.bandorestaurant.com/
(Falls Road) Woodberry Kitchen: http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/
(Highlandtown) Matthew's Pizza: http://www.matthewspizza.com/
(Fells Point) Brick Oven Pizza: http://boppizza.com/
(Little Italy) Isabella's Brick Oven Pizza and Panini: http://isabellasbrickoven.net/default.aspx
You could add Pasta Mista in Canton (no website) could be added to the list.
Coal Fire Pizza in Ellicott City has opened to mostly successful reviews and is typically crowded, while Py Wood Fired pizza in Canton Square failed about a year ago. Knowing why this is wouldn't hurt either.
I know someone who is very close to opening a pizzeria in New York City. A lifelong friend of mine who is in commercial real estate and tends to wind up knowing everyone in a neighborhood lives in the same 'hood where this other friend of mine is looking to open his pizzeria. They met in my lifelong friend's neighborhood and my friend was very impressed by how the aspiring pizza owner literally "knew my neighborhood like the back of his hand....business owners, locations, real estate agents, people on the street, etc"...and my lifelong friend is not easily impressed by such things.
Knowing your target market like the back of your hand, before committing to a space, certainly can't hurt in developing a very strong business plan. If I were you and likely looking to spend a lot of money opening a pizzeria, I would be spending a LOT of time in Baltimore getting to know people and also visiting existing pizzerias repeatedly, asking patrons why they like the place, getting your feet wet so to speak.
There is not a lot of good pizza in Baltimore. Too many places, even older favorites, have a lack of focus in my opinion....selling pizzas, subs, cookies, hot sauces, coffee drinks, wings and 20 other items. These types of places tend to still pack people in when in a good location, but I know for a fact there is a large, and growing, segment of pizza lovers in Baltimore that are frustrated we do not have a pizzeria which can truly lock horns with pizzerias on the national scene.
I truly hope you can come to Baltimore and offer a really solid product......I for one would be there often if there is really good pizza being sold.
One day I will open a pizzeria in Baltimore and I know this sounds completely hokey, but my goal will be to offer nothing less than great pizza which can hold its head proudly against any pizzeria on the planet.
Good luck the rest of the way and I'd be happy to talk with you offline and meet you in Baltimore to show you around, if need be. [email protected]
Of course, I can't see anything more important than having a great product, before opening your doors. --PB