Scoring/Rating Pizza

2008/01/07 04:35:44
I've worked in a number of pizza places. Only one was a mom n' pop place and it had a great reputation. I'm 2 hours outside of Chicago.

My buddy and I are talking about openning a pizza place. So now that I'm faced with the possibility of being da boss, I'm finding myself slightly confused as to what style we'll do.

How many of you kind folks rate the crust above the sauce, or vice-versa.

Square or round?

I know it is a regional question and more importantly, if the crust is great but the sauce ain't, it's a bad pie. It's a complete package.

So what jumps out at you when you first check into a pizza? Do you look at the cheese to see if it melted right?

How many folks prefer the sweet sauces to the spicy ones? D'agostino's in Chicago uses basically stewed tomatoes. Kinda like Lou Malnatti's.

Everybody has their own criteria, I'm just asking what your's happens to be.

Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/07 05:38:10

I prefer to see bubbles in the dough with a slight browning on top. Someone here used the term 'leoparding' to describe it. I like the yeasty burst of hot air as you bite into it. If the air bubbles are browned, so should the cheese. This is the tough one, as it takes seconds for it to become overcooked and too dark for some people.
I live in Ct. and thin crust does rule, but when I lived in CA., if that could be accomplished, then that was fine with their thicker crust. The prevelence of white pies still leads to the fact that the crust is a very big part of what makes it delicious.

Sauce is essential to the flavor. I learned how to make a great sauce from scratch and that is very important. Basil, oregeno and other spices are needed to make it pop. A smidgen of sugar is okay just to cut some of the acidity.
My test of a great pie is the sausage. It must have a good flavor with a combination of fennel and black pepper. I prefer crumbled, but I constantly argue with my brother who wants his to be sliced. (He is wrong... )
Above all, do not use canned mushrooms. Even out here, some of the big three in New Haven use canned mushrooms and this is wrong.

My advice is to see what the other guys are doing and figure out how you can do it better. Do not go into this business with the idea that your pie is as good as the the next. Make it so you can claim that your pizza is the best.

What type of oven are you going to use?

RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/07 10:01:54
If you don't have firm convictions and passion about what kind of pizza you want to make I'd be leery of jumping into the pizza business. It's a tough business for independents and you cannot win against the national chains if you try to compete with them on their standards, quality and types of pizza. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the populace is just fine with Pizza Hut and Dominos. So surveying will most likely drive you right into those standards, and if you have to ask, you may not know your business well enough yet. Even if you make a great pie there is no guarantee of success. I once worked for a guy who made absolute quality pizzas but he did not survive. I hope you develop a good business plan and come up with something that will bring customers in.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/07 13:38:22
I've only worked for mom and pop shops in the past. Crust can be round or square IMHO, it all tastes the same, but alot of traditionalists and purists prefer the round.. I'd do the regular pie slice cutting also, but offer the party cut (square) for those that request it. The sauce will be your signature, and don't sign it with some sugar loaded crap.. One of the reasons I have a hard time finding a decent pizza around here is that most all the sauces taste like Prego.. If I wanted a sugar buzz, I'd drink a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Start out with some crushed tomatoes and make your own.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/07 13:59:29
God luck Ted! Please keep us posted.

I love all kinds of Pizza! I must agree w/ Vick though, a tooo sweet sauce is not my fav. And, the sig sauce is most important.

Here is a weird idea that may not work everywhere but... I add some pickled jalapeno juice ( I hate wasting that delicious juice ) to whatever kinda sauce Im making. I call it "Texas Style" pizza. I do the same for pasta dishes. Oh, LaCostena is my fav brand. There is a big difference in the taste of jalapeno juice by the way.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/07 14:30:45
Sweet sauce is definitely gross. To me, sweet sauce is one of the hallmarks of bad pizza.

I do agree with DavyDD though, you need to have a passion for the type of pizza you make; because many have forced out of the business by the chains, which have taken pizza down into the fast food category, quality wise.

My wife often uses Don Pepino as a base for her pizza sauce when she is not making it from scratch. Sometimes she will blend her own crushed tomato sauce with Don Pepino.

You probably know, you won't out cheap them; you can't out coupon them.. if you can figure out how to get people to pay for good pizza , you will be successful.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/08 04:31:52
You folks are cool!

I'm having a hard time focusing. Due to equipment, building and financial constraints, I'll be using an electric pizza oven. It was recomended to me by my former boss who says he normally wouldn't go that route but this oven works well.

We'll be in a rural area with mild competition. To be honest, 50 pies a night would be pushing it. But I agree with Davydd, because I want this to be the best, but the best for the area. Certain pizzas are wasted on those who do not want or appreciate them. But if I'm going to do this, it's going to be right and it's going to be something to talk about.

I'm having a hard time narrowing things down. I've had too many good pizzas, which isn't a bad thing until you need to focus your attention to just one certain style.

I had a pizza in Chicago at a place called Pistano's (sp?) and it was wonderfully flakey. Best crust I've ever had. I don't believe that place is in business anymore, which is sad.

I'm working on the idea that a good, spicy sauce is important rather than a bland or sweet one. Besides, we have a sweet sauce in the area already.

I have more research to do before I come up with my final pie, it'll take time.

Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/08 08:13:14
Big_Ted, You might look[url='']here[/url] for more info about opening/operating a pizza business and [url='']here[/url] for more info about deciding which pizza you want to make. Good luck with your venture. pb

Double Cheeseburger
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/08 14:54:08
I'm partial to a "New York" style crust, nice and blistered, but not burnt. Crisp at first to the toothe and then a good chew in the mouth.

I like a nicely spiced sauce, not "hot", but it's gotta have a little kick to it. Mozzarella, Provalone or a 50/50 mixture, the cheese should be nice and brown when the pie comes out of the oven. I don't really like fresh mozzarella, unless it is a true Margharita (sp) cooked in a very, very hot 900' or higher oven.

I admit I do like a good "garbage can" pizza, but normally it's pepperoni and sausage for me. The quality of the toppings are every bit as important as the crust, sauce or cheese.

RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/08 15:09:40
Originally posted by porkbeaks

Big_Ted, You might look[url='']here[/url] for more info about opening/operating a pizza business and [url='']here[/url] for more info about deciding which pizza you want to make. Good luck with your venture. pb

Nice links there Art! Here's another one..
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/09 03:52:01
There are some great links here. I always looked forward to getting my Pizza Quarterly magazine. I think I enjoyed the ads more than the articles.

One thing we will do is hand slap the dough. I want that because it has a better edge and folks love to see that.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/09 05:50:01
I agree almost wholeheartedly with doggydaddy except about the mushrooms. If fresh mushrooms are underneath the cheese then they come out fantastic. But if they are laid on top then all they do is dry out and taste like cardboard. I also agree with doggie's brother. Sausage...sliced. Good luck.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/11 17:55:00
Hi bigted,
After over sixty years of eating pizza around the world,as an Italian proud of his culinary heritage...I'd say the major ingredient is LOVE...I second the idea that pizza is made with passion. Also correct....NO Sugar in any part of the pie!! Buffalo milk cheese....and sauce with lots of basil leaves....if possible a wood buring oven designed for very hot heat and quick cooking....then serve it with pride and a smile...a pizza maker is an artist!!!!!
Junior Burger
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/11 18:53:43
Originally posted by Frankman


Big Ted, sliced sausage is a New York or eastern style thing. It is commonplace there. But if you are two hours outside of Chicago, you would be laughed out of town if that is what you'd represent as sausage to midwesterners. Thick pieces or clumps of fresh sausage is what Chicago pizza eaters want. It is the number one ingredient requested on pizzas in the Chicago area. Slices of pepperoni are number two in the area, but number one nationwide.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/11 19:20:13
leethebard... You hit it right on the nose! LOVE! Love and Passion will make or break your business. You can serve a mediocre product and make some money, or you can take the same product, introduce love into it, and have a far more superior product. I like it when the Sterns use the term "Culinary Artists", speaks true in every sense.
Ort. Carlton.
Filet Mignon
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/11 19:50:01
Originally posted by leethebard
...a pizza maker is an artist!!!!!

Man, you aren't just whistling "Dixie!"
Another consideration to "what makes good pizza" is something a lot of folks might not think of... soft tap water! Think of this... New Haven, New York City, and New Jersey (except maybe for the Shore) have soft tap water from a granitic source... say, 50-100 ppm of dissolved solids or less. (Philadelphia, too, falls in here. So do Baltimore and D. C. and Richmond.) This is one reason that Atlanta (and Athens) can have good pizza: the water is conducive to the making of a perfect crust.
Try making that perfect crust with water from a hard source, such as coming off limestone... or heavily mineral-laden... or, worst yet, desalinated! Gneesh! A pizzamaker would have to be like a brewer here; they'd have to do a decoction to be able to produce decent dough!
I mentioned this to the guys who run Little Italy (our local five-star pizzaria) and they said "Yeah, Athens water is like New York City's... it's real soft." So it is a consideration. They'd never thought of it that way before.
I've rambled enough. By the way, I really enjoyed your message. Keep up the good posts.
Unslicingly, Thinner Crusted Ort. Carlton in Amazing Athens, Georgia.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/11 19:56:38
Unless one is attempting to make a true Neapolitan pizza, one that would be approved by the VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) association, a small amount of sugar in the dough to "feed" the yeast is totally acceptable. The amount used is not enough to produce what would be considered a sweet dough. It also promotes a bit more browning of the crust, which is helpful if you are using a home oven and reaching a high temp is a problem. For more info about the VPN check[url='']here[/url]. pb
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/21 10:28:30
Personally, I believe, if you make great pizza, thick or thin, as long as it's great tasting pizza, they will come.
RE: Scoring/Rating Pizza 2008/01/21 12:13:02
Thanks Porkbeaks,
We had a pizzaria in beautiful town town Point Pleasant who made his Pizzas in the wood oven and belonged to the VPN. Expensive, but superb. Unfortunately,he moved to New York City, where his superior pizza was featured in the New York Papers. I wonder how many pizza places belong to the VPN association.