A dollar won’t buy you much in Manhattan,but a hungry diner on his lunchbreak can find a few pizzerias here andthere selling slices for 99 cents.Usually,you can’t even buy a soda for that price!Surprisingly, selling high-quality pizzaat a low price can yield a profit, and Zio’sPizzeria and Grill (ziospizzasyosset.com) in Syosset, New York, stands outas a perfect example of how it’s done.
Marcello Caccialino has never strayedtoo far fromthe family business of restaurantmanagement, a tradition dating backat least 50 years to post-World War IIItaly. According to the Syosset Patch website,Marcello’s grandfathers, AntonioCaccialino and Marsilio Pepe, launchedtheir first restaurant in Naples beforemoving to the United States,where thefamily operated Terranova in Long Islandfor many years. Marcello was born in GlenCove, Long Island, to a well-respectedNew York family. He rose through theindustry’s ranks by toiling in kitchens foryears, both in the United States and inNaples, and became an executivechef aftertraining under Ralph Ammaccapane,the “Galloping Gourmet of Arizona.”
Recently, after 25 years in the pizzabusiness, Marcelloopened Zio’s in Syosset.This mom-and-pop pizzeria servesfine entrees, from chicken scarparielloand veal Parmigiana to grilled Tuscansteak and Zio’s Famous Tripe Terranova,prepared in the traditional Campagnolastyle, all for between $15.95and $18.95. Caccialino also has beenknown to peddle slices of cheese pizzafor 99 cents with a PennySaver couponand offer a lunch special consisting oftwo regular slices and amedium drinkfor only $5.50.
At prices like that, I could not believehow well they’re doing. What’s their secret?High-quality food and plenty of it.Caccialino’s personality is unbeatable,too—he’s always smiling. His passion andlove of food, family and his customers areunmistakable to anyone who spends timewith him. Many celebrities and famouspeople—including actor Steven Seagaland Hillary Clinton—have enjoyed mealsprepared by Marcello. I have sampledmost of the pizzas myself, and, after severalvisits, I knew I had to write a storyabout this pizzeria.
Like other members of the Caccialinofamily, Marcello is a fanatic aboutthe quality of his dough and bread. Hechooses only the finest ingredients for hispizzas and pasta dishes.Pizza toppings atZio’s include penne, baked potato, taco,buffalo chicken and eggplant, to name afew. Popular pizzas include the Grandma,the Spinach and the Margherita, withprices between $16.55 and $20.25.
Food costs are out of control throughoutthe pizza industry. The costs of someitems have soared by 40% to 45%. Icalled about 20 pizzerias recently, andall of them were having a tough time withthese price increases. But Zio’s appearsto thrive by keeping its quality high andits prices low. And, as the Syosset Patchreported, Marcello hopes to turn Zio’sinto a franchise concept. “Good food,hard work and a passion for what you dowill overcome the economy,” he told thePatch. “I think [Zio’s] will prosper withthe surrounding community and Syosset.Their response will allow us to growand…open up more Zio’s.”Zio’s Pizzeria and Grill Seecookingdemos byChef Bruno onPizzaTV.com.New York’s Finest Chef Santo Bruno18 PMQ Pizza Magazine – The Pizza Industry’s Business MonthlyMarcello Caccialino keeps quality high andprices low at his new Zio’s concept.