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Stan 12-17-2010 02:00 PM

FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
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There are two fairly new wood-fired pizza places in Lexington, Kentucky. They are called Smashing Tomato (Smashing Tomato - pizza kissed by the flame), and I got to visit one 2 weeks ago. It's an absolutely fantastic concept.

Imagine a Panera bakery/cafe-type place with a big WFO. They have a simple menu built around classics, descriptions of Pizza Napolitana on the walls where the line cues (including explaining the droop in the middle of the pizza and leopard spotting), and their VNP certification next to the cash register. Behind a glass wall pizzas are shaped by one worker and scurried off to the WFO by another. After they're baked, they're prepped by one more person and then they head to the window where your buzzer rings. The whole process, at lunch rush, took maybe 7 minutes. I watched our pizzas from start to finish, and they were both solid 90-second pies.

Self serve soda, water, and tea, and wine/beer by the glass. Gelato and espresso as dessert options. Sit where you like, "wait staff" circling the floor to bus tables. Frank Sinatra and Deano singing Christmas carols over the speakers.

Let me be clear on this: They're not skimping. The flour looked like Caputo, the Margherita was pretty darn good, and the procedures were exactly the same that I use in my home oven. Pies come in 12 or 8ish inches, and the 12 inch Margherita was exactly what you'd expect it to be. The only thing that pinged my radar was the dough's taste; it tasted like it didn't get a whole 24 hour rise.

Hold on to your hats gents: We paid a little over $20 for a 12 inch Margherita, an 8 inch Parma (arugula, mozzarella, prosciutto), espresso, and gelato. They make their money with volume. They're located next to a huge mall and get a fairly big lunch and dinner rush.

The brilliance? They're franchising. The owners own the best Italian place in Lexington, and have a business model for opening more Smashing Tomato stores. Imagine, again, a place like Panera that serves VPN pizza.

I'll post my pic when I get a chance.


JoeyVelderrain 02-19-2011 09:06 PM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
looks good!, I would have a bottle of EVO on every table in case a customer should want some on their margherita.

Ken524 02-22-2011 10:11 AM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
Darn, this was posted back in December and I missed it!
Looks like we're headed to Lexington this weekend. Perfect opportunity to compare ours to theirs.

Stan 02-22-2011 10:17 AM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
Hey Ken,

They're behind in Fayette Mall and in the Hamburg Pavilion.


Ken524 02-22-2011 10:25 AM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
Thanks Stan!
I know exactly where that is. I'm really, really curious to try a VPN.

mn8tr 02-22-2011 11:10 AM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
What a great concept, I hope they move in or around Houston.

Ken524 02-26-2011 07:23 PM

Re: FANTASTIC idea in Lexington, KY
Had lunch at Smashing Tomato today. Fed a family of 5 (3 adults and 2 kids) for $37 (and we were stuffed).

We ordered three 6" pies (Margherita, Cortina and Parma), 2 kids cheese pizzas, Wood-fired artichoke dip w/flatbread, and 5 drinks.

We were all very impressed and will return during the winters when our oven is on hiatus.

I was most pleased to discover that the pizza coming out of my Pompeii is every bit as good as certified VPN pie. :-)

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