Paulie Gee's Logo

I was extremely lucky to land this interview with Paulie Gee. After stalking him for 2 days at Pizza Expo, I was excited to be able to discuss pizza, and to discover his favorite pizzerias and how he started in the pizza business.

Albert Grande and Paulie Gee

Albert Grande and Paulie Gee

The interview started badly. I called him a legend of pizza as well as a pizzaiolo. He stopped me dead in my tracks by proclaiming he was no legend, just a guy who makes pizza. And he said there are no pizzaiolo at Paulie Gee’s, just pizza guys.

After we got over that bump, the interview went well. Paulie Gee was open about how he happened to get into the pizza business. After working in the IT profession for 30 years he decided to move on and follow his dream. Although he loved to cook, he did not see himself opening a restaurant. He knew it had to be pizza. So he formulated a plan.

He started to make pizza at home and worked at perfecting his craft. He used Peter Reinhart’s book: American Pie My Search for the Perfect Pizza as a model. He worked on his pizza dough recipe and kept working on it. He experimented with different dough recipes until he had it the way he wanted it.

"First and foremost its about the love of pizza..."

Paulie Gee on the love of pizza!

His goal was not to be a pizza hobbyist. Rather he knew all along he wanted to get into the pizza business. He made pizza for friends, family, and bloggers. He fed them pizza, got them drunk,  and they spread the word. He continued to make pizza and soon many people were discussing Paulie Gee’s great pizza..

His vision of Paulie Gee’s was not so much to open just another pizzeria. He wanted his place to be an experience. He explained he he wanted Paulie Gee’s to look like the “Little Rascals” opened up a pizzeria. He wanted his place to be totally different. He wanted a certain amount of mystery as well as a comfortable. All along the way he sought out assistance from established pizza makers who shared his vision. Paulie Gee is thankful to all the assistance he has received and he acknowledges the assistance from others along the way.

Paulie does not allow any of his employees to wear Paulie Gee logos or hats. Rather he encourages his staff to wear t-shirts and hats from other pizzerias. Celebrating pizza is one of Paulie’s goals. The pizzas are non traditional melding various flavors such as sweet and savory with a hint of hotness.

Albert Grande Interviews Paulie Gee

Albert Grande Interviews Paulie Gee

He is also very supportive of anyone else who wants to follow the path of having their own pizzeria. He embodies the heart and soul of pizza. Because as you may know pizza is more than just water, salt yeast and flour. Magic happens when you make pizza. Paulie Gee wants to spread that magic around.

In the following interview Paulie talks about his favorite pizzas in New York. He speaks about some of the pizza makers who influenced him. He closes out by talking about what it takes to follow one’s dreams. Here’s the interview:

You can listen to the audio of this interview and
download a copy if you wish below:

i_094

 

 

Visit Pauie Gee on line at:
Paulie Gee’s
60 Greenpoint Ave.
Brooklyn, New York

Pizza-Fixes-Everything-T-Shirt

Exclusive Collection of Pizza T-Shirts (CLICK)

Discover Pizza Inspiration here, go to:
Pizza Therapy Pizza Books

In Search of A Pizza Dream Part 3

Anthony Saporito had a dream to own a pizzeria…In this the final episode, we conclude our interview with him. Listen and learn about a Legend of Pizza in progress!

Albert: What kind of Pizza do you make? What is you favorite to make.

Anthony: At my new place, “Urban Fire” we will being making Authentic Neapolitan style, using “00” flour, salt, water and yeast, That’s it. We just purchased a beautiful Stefano Ferrara, wood burning oven from Naples, and really want to do things the Authentic way. I’m all about tradition, and nostalgia. but I also experimenting with new ideas as well.

Just recently, I had the honor to be invited over my cousin’s house and cook with his 88 year old Mother in Law. Her name is Mrs. Kay Cammareri, and she is the Matriarch of “Cammareri Brothers Bakery” in Brooklyn. Her bakery was a focal point in the hit Movie, ‘Moonstruck’, and even Nicholas Cage’s Character took her last name. She still lives above where the old Bakery was located in the movie. She showed me how to make, “Sfincione”, a Sicilian pie made in a rectangular tray, topped off with tomato paste, onions, anchovies and Bread crumbs. The pie was phenomenal, The onions and the paste make for a very Sweet sauce. The experience I had while making it was even better. As Mrs. Cammareri was instructing me, she told different stories about different people, and places, different occasions to whom she served the dish to over the last 60 years. That makes the dish even more special. So I guess my favorite pizza to make is any one that has a great story behind it.

Paulie Gee and Anthony Saporito

Paulie Gee and Anthony Saporito

Albert: Tell me about your new Pizzeria

Anthony: The name of my place is Called “Urban Fire”. We are located in Madison, New Jersey. Its a great little town filled with friendly people who love good food. We will be serving traditional Neapolitan pizza and Italian Street eats. Our Pizza is going to be done in a Fast Casual/ Create your own, model. You will be able to choose your base of, Margherita, Marinara, Bianco, or Pesto and then go down the line and choose what you want. If you don’t want to create your own, you can choose from our list of Specialty pies. I like giving people the chance to interact in what they want. It creates for a lively, different experience. It’s a great way to also get to know your customers. I’ve already said, If someone comes in and orders the same pie a bunch a times, we will definitely feature it on the menu board. So I plan to have a lot of “Joe” or “Mary” Specials.

I know that few other people are doing “create your own”, out west, but from what I understand, we will be the only ones doing it with a 100% wood fired oven. Even though the assembly line method is a bit unorthodox, I still wanted to keep the artisan tradition of cooking the pie intact, which is why we got a Stefano Ferrara oven. Hopefully I’m not crazy in trying this out, but Think it’ll be fine.

We also will serving a variety of “Street Eats”. In Italy, you can eat some really great food without ever stepping foot in a restaurant. I loved the idea of replicating what street Vendors have been doing for Decades. We will have sandwiches that represent different street foods from different cities, such as a “Porchetta” (Rome), Panelle,(Palermo Sicily) and Lampredotto (Florence–ours will be made of beef and not cow stomach-haha). We will also have sides such as Arancini, (rice balls) Prociutto balls, and Zeppole. And of course, in Naples, Pizza is the original Street Food.

Albert: What would you tell someone who wanted to get into the pizza business?
What advice would you give them?

Anthony: I’d say “Do NOT get discouraged”. When you first start out, its almost like learning a different language, and can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve noticed that 99% of Pizza makers are friendly, and want to help each other out. It also seems like everybody knows each other. It’s really cool. So ask questions, and don’t get discouraged. Of course you will run into the Naysayers and extremists; The guys with egos as big as a house, who think that they are curing diseases, and keep everything a secret. Don’t bother with them. There are plenty of people out there who want to help. And if you can’t find anyone, call me.
Once you get your basics down, start experimenting. Have Pizza Parties where you cook for everyone. It’s fun and gratifying. You’ll see that after a while, you will adopt your own style. Special ways you like doing things which are 100% yours. If you are into it, everything else will fall into place. You’ll start picking up things you weren’t even looking for. Like I said earlier, it’s not rocket science. It’s supposed to be fun and creative. And if anyone tells you, “That’s not the right way to do this” , or, “That is wrong”, ask them to see the book where the rules of Pizza are written.
When I first said I wanted to start my own place, everyone had their own opinion. People will tell you “How will you pay the bills?” , “It’s a lot of work”, “It’s very hard”, or my favorite, “There’s so many places for Pizza”. All of a sudden, everybody is an expert of a sudden. Paulie Gee gave me the best rebuttal for these naysayers. “Tell’ em thanks”, he said, “And then ask them how many Pizza places they own”
If you’re considering getting into the Pizza business, think about why it is that you love Pizza. What about it moves you? I guarantee its because it evokes happy feelings, and in turn you want to share those feelings with others. What is better than that? While its true, I haven’t sold a Pizza on my own just yet but I know that I will do everything in my power to make sure I succeed. I love the quote from Henry Ford that says; “Whether you think you can, or can not do something, you’re right.” This goes for anything in life. Even Pizza

Albert: When do you plan to open? What is your address?

Right now I am playing with all my recipes. I’m having a pretty good time with it too. I invite everybody
I see walking outside to come inside and give me their opinion. My store is all built out. Right now I am just going through the hiring Process. So Hopefully I will be able to get open by mid April.
Our address is:
URBAN FIRE
6 Main Street
Madison, NJ 07940

I am also currently getting a Web Site up, but nothing is up yet. However, I make sure to post on our progress on Social Media.
Facebook:
Urban Fire

Instagram:
Urban_Fire

Twitter:
urbanfirepizza

I would like to thank you, Albert. I’ve enjoyed your articles and videos over the years, but I’ve also enjoyed your insight. So Thank you for helping me tell me story, and please stop by the Next time you are in the NY/NJ area.

All the Best,
Anthony Saporito

 

 

In Search of the Pizza Dream Part 1

Here is a letter I recently received:

“Albert, A few years ago I sent you an email, asking you for some advice. I had just gotten laid off from my Job on Wall Street and knew that I didn’t want to go back into the fat race of the financial world. I loved making pizza and knew I wanted to do something with the passion I had for it.

Alberto Grande, Giorgia, and Roberto Caporuscio

Alberto Grande, Giorgia, and Roberto Caporuscio

When we first spoke ,you pretty much told me that I knew what I had to do, deep down. You reminded me that since I lived in New York, there were ample opportunities to sculpt my craft. In other words The knowledge was there for the taking. I just needed to cease it. Not long after we spoke I wrote a letter to two titans of the pizza world. Roberto Caporuscio, of Keste, and Paulie Gee of Paulie Gees.

Paulie G. and Albert G.

Paulie G. and Albert G.

You commented to me you enjoyed reading that letter so much that you put it in one of your newsletters. In the letter I explained my passion, and how serving pizza, and more importantly, bringing others together with good food was in my blood.

The letter went over so well that I was able to learn from both of these masters, first at Roberto’s pizza class and then working at Paulie Gees as a Pizzaiolo for 2 years. The knowledge I gained has been invaluable and I am indebted to both Men for the opportunities they gave me as well as my resume. Now I am starting my own place. It is called ” Urban Fire” located in Madison, NJ.

We will be serving authentic Neapolitan pizza and Italian Street eats, Such as Porchetta sandwiches, zeppoles , Arancini , salads etc. We have a Stefano Ferrara oven from Naples , and our pizza will be severed I a fast/casual style, where the customer gets to go down the line and choose what sauce, cheese and toppings they prefer, to create their own pie. We cook it in our wood burning oven at 800- 1000 degrees and the pie will be ready in 60-90 seconds! I am very excited We should be opened in March, but before then I just waned to reach out to you and say, “thank you” for your help and advice in getting me started.

You helped me get on the path to following my dream and now that dream is finally becoming a reality. Please, if you are ever in the NY/NJ area, please stop by and see me. I’d be honored to host you. Also.

Once again Albert, thank you for everything, for all your help along the way and as always,

Pizza on Earth!

Yours truly,

Anthony Saporito, Owner

Urban Fire,
Madison, NJ

Thanks Anthony. Tell us more about your pizza quest!

I understand you have just undertaken an incredible journey to have a goal
of getting into the pizza business.

Albert: You had a dream, you showed passion and you put effort in and you made
your dream a reality…

 Tell me a bit about you Anthony. What led you to get into the pizza
business?

Anthony: I studied Finance in College. Don’t ask me why. It never really excited me. For the first 10 years after college I worked as a Trader on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange. At first I loved the fast pace, and interaction with others, but one day we all came in and they told us that the Exchange was abandoning its 200 year old way of doing business, and going computerized. After that, Layoffs started coming every few months. It was a terrible feeling, wondering day to day, when it was going to be your turn. When I first started, my company had 350 employees. When I finally did get laid off, there was 48. I was actually ecstatic when my Boss tapped me on the shoulder to tell me the news -I had already been dreaming of Pizza for the last 2 years prior. Getting laid off was just the kick in the rear I needed to get started.

Albert: Of all the other Jobs, why did you decide to do your own business. Why Pizza?

Anthony:  Entertaining others and cooking for them is in my blood. I grew up in a traditional Italian/American household and my Grandmother’s house on Sunday was like Grand Central station. People came in and out all day. Some stayed for dinner, some ate and ran, some came for coffee. I was always enamored how she was able to feed everyone with such ease and how much Joy she was able to bring to others by doing so. It was contagious. Even when I was in college, and studying Finance, I was still always using the Kitchen in my dorm to cook for everyone. I loved it.

Working in a Job that I had zero drive for really annoyed me. I knew that the next line of business I went into was going to be something I had a Passion for. I didn’t have to think for too long to come up with, what exactly that was, and the answer was Pizza. Pizza is just one of those things that makes everyone happy and excited. You have an age old recipe, and yet you can still be creative. And creating different pizzas with the sole purpose of having others enjoy it, and bringing a smile to their face is what moves me. Much like the feeling I had at my Grandmothers house. I always wanted to do something on my own in the food service industry. This was my chance. I was 30 years old, and decided to do something on my own that I knew I would love. Had I just put my Résumé online and took another desk job, I knew I’d regret it for the rest of my life. I had to take a shot.

Stay tuned for the rest of this incredible interview….

If you are in the pizza business or interested in getting into the Pizza business, I recommend: Growing Pizza: How to Plant the Seeds to a Successful Pizzeria

And also: Profits in the Pie: Effective Marketing Tactics to Seize YOUR Slice of the $38.1 Billion Pizza Pie

Step-by-step Secret Profitable System Shows You Exactly How To Start & Manage A Successful Restaurant Business & Increase Success Rate Even If You Have No Business Experience Or Background!

. Even If You Have No Business Experience Or Background. Check Out & Promote Today.