Chef Santo Bruno

Mom-and-Pop Shops Still the Real Deal


A few months back, I attended the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, and it gave me a lot to think about. People from all over the world, including vendors from Europe, come to this event to see what’s new in the pizza industry. And the industry is definitely changing. Wood-burning ovens, for example, are everywhere now. I don’t have a problem with these ovens, but I’m still a big believer in American-made ovens. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s much easier to bake your pizza in a gas or electric oven, especially in New York, which is such a fast-paced city.

But what really caught my attention were the unusual pizza toppings I saw. People in this industry don’t seem to know what to put on a pizza anymore. I see these pizza shops trying a variety of unusual toppings. In my opinion, some things just do not belong on a pizza pie! I say, keep it simple—stick with your regular meats and vegetables. Unusual toppings are fine now and then, but I believe that most of our customers still crave the familiar—they want good, old-fashioned comfort food. The big chains today are trying to steal customers away from the mom-and-pop shops with these exotic pies. But one thing’s for sure—the smaller, independent pizza shops still serve the best food, including pizzas, subs, pasta and meat dishes. That’s because everything is made fresh and in the store every day. I should know—I grew up in a small pizza shop myself.

So take heart, all of you independent pizza operators. You’re still the real deal, and you don’t have to get fancy to make your customers happy. Keep it simple and fresh, stick with the classic recipes, and you’ll never go wrong.