Since Williamsburg Pizza opened in Brooklyn a little more than 10 years ago, it’s become recognized as one of those classic joints that deliver a true New York pizza experience. But will the concept thrive in America’s heartland?
Owner Aaron McCann and acclaimed head chef/owner Nino Coniglio will find out when they open their first out-of-state location in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 30.
To bring the concept to Omaha, McCann has partnered with lead franchisee and investor Matt Hodges, who operates 37 Jimmy John’s stores in five states, including Nebraska.
Related: Gorilla Pies serves Pittsburgh-style pizzas with California soul
McCann and Coniglio grew Williamsburg Pizza to a total of five locations in New York, including the Lower East Side, Crown Heights, the Upper East Side and Bushwick. McCann kicked it all off with the first store on the south side of Williamsburg in 2012. Now he’s ready to circle all the way back to his roots—Omaha is his hometown.
Coniglio, meanwhile, has built a stellar reputation as a pizzaiolo, winning the Food Network’s Chopped competition and becoming the first non-family member to train under the legendary Dom DeMarco of Di Fara in Brooklyn. Additionally, Williamsburg Pizza was featured in Modernist Cuisine’s latest three-volume tome, Modernist Pizza.
Long fermentation is key to the pizza chain’s dough-making process. The team does an extensive warm and cold ferment, which makes the dough more digestible as well as complex and delicious. In addition to Ciao tomatoes from Campania (a region in Italy near Mount Vesuvius known for its rich volcanic soil), their tomato sauce boasts Sicilian sea salt from Trappani (a region of Sicily celebrated for the quality of its salt since the Roman Empire) and freshly ground butcher-grind black pepper.
The Omaha outpost will look to local sources for its meat and the bread for its famous meatballs, the company said, including sausage from Compart Duroc and bread from Rotella’s Italian Bakery.
The menu will include both Grandma square pies and Brooklyn rounds. On the Grandma side, the Paesano is topped with local Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, cremini mushrooms, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh mozz and tomato sauce. The round-pie selection will include the Sophia Loren, made with fresh mozz, sliced tomatoes, garlic and basil.