Pizzone is popping up with giant Milan-style pizza at Vina Enoteca restaurant in Palo Alto. Head there the next few Sundays for a 2-foot-wide pie that can “comfortably feed six adults,” or a slice, all with a crust that’s crisp on the bottom, airy in the middle and topped with fresh, flavorful ingredients.
It’s been a long process to create pizza. Dario Presezzi, who launched the pop-up pizza shop, said that he was inspired by his experience in immigrating from Italy to the Bay Area almost a decade ago.
“Living here in the Bay Area, you miss the food from Italy a bit,” Presezzi said. It was so missing that he returned a week later to search for a cappuccino. He also met Rocco Scordella who is the owner and managing partner at Vina Enoteca and became a partner in the restaurant.
He missed pizza the most. Specifically, “my pizza, from where I grew up,” Presezzi said. “By ‘my pizza’ I mean it’s the one my family and friends used to get every weekend and eat together.”
The pizzeria where Presezzi’s family had their pizza is still operating in his hometown, Vimercate. Presezzi, his team and others consulted them during the creation of Pizzone. They also provided input on equipment and ingredients.
Alex Guido, Alex’s business partner, had also been interested in the pizza business. Originally from the town of Amantea in Italy’s Calabria region, he was working at his uncle’s grocery store when he convinced a pizzaiolo to teach him how to make pizza. With the support of his “Uncle Nino,” he left home to pursue his passion.
Guido arrived to the Bay Area after completing an intensive course in pizzaiolo. He continued to improve his pizza skills while working at Doppio Zero, Mountain View, and Vina Enoteca. This is where he met Presezzi. Guido was about signing a lease to open his restaurant when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. He put his plans on hold.
Guido was told that Presezzi believed that a business focused on Milan-style Pizza had potential. Presezzi’s idea of pizza was different than the Neapolitan style Guido had seen.
Neapolitan pizzas take days to make and have very strict ingredient and production specifications. Presezzi’s idea for a Milan-style pizza was to make it fast and elevate the quality of the ingredients while still keeping the original taste of Vimercate pizza.
“After a couple tries, he loved it,” Presezzi said. In collaboration with Vina Enoteca Vina Scordella, the two decided to open a business together.
They tried out different recipes, using as many local ingredients and seasonal vegetables as possible. After months of testing, consulting with the Vimercate pizzeria, they found no local equivalent for the tomatoes that they wanted to use in the sauce. They decided to import Antico Casale Franzese tomatoes.
“The tomatoes from Naples have some tastes that for me is very hard to reproduce,” Presezzi said. “We focused on the best brand that we believe we can get.”
Packaging was another challenge. They couldn’t find any pizza boxes large enough to hold their pies. Pizzone pies are bigger than a Domino’s extra-large pizza, and the single, triangular slice of Pizzone is longer than most. The Pizzone team created its own box. The first iteration of their design used a recyclable cardstock. They’ll soon have the next iteration made from a material that can go directly into the oven and then be composted.
Presezzi, a native of the Peninsula, first arrived with a mission to increase sustainability, and achieve zero waste.
“I’m bringing this mentality of environmentalism that’s very strong,” Presezzi said. “I see how waste is managed, how the impacts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are getting pretty intense. Everything I do now has to be as sustainable as possible. It’s something I can’t ignore. It became a passion.”
Opening a new food business during the pandemic has been “very hard to do,” Guido said, and the team is continuing to strive to make progress toward their greater goal.
They have started with the idea for a ghost kitchen so customers can order the pizzas they make in Vina Enoteca’s restaurant for delivery or takeout. Pop-up events are also offered so that customers can try the pizza at the restaurant. However, they want to open a retail store. They plan to freeze their pizzas before making them available to customers in shops.
Presezzi said that they will be introducing their pizzas to Sigona’s Farmers Market. More locations will follow. Bay Area residents will be able enjoy the Vimercate pizzeria’s flavors in their own kitchens.
“We want to create a pizza brand that’s very light with very good ingredients that you can heat up at home, without having to go to a restaurant,” He said.
Pizzone will be appearing at Vina Enoteca Palo Alto on Sept. 26th, as well as Oct. 3, from 5 to 8. Follow Pizzone on Instagram for the most current hours.
Vina Enoteca can be found at 700 Welch Road in Palo Alto. Call 650-646 3477.
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