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JR351 06-13-2012 09:39 PM

Greetings from Michigan
Hello all.. My name is Josh and I am new to this forum. I just registered because I have found a wealth of information that I know will help me in the future. My wife and I would like to start a pizza restaurant. I worked in a pizza shop for 7 years while attending college. We made our own dough, sauce, and shaved our own (store bought) mozzarella. Looking back, it seemed as if we did a lot of work in making the basics but the owners lacked imagination in ingredients. The used a gas operation stone style (blodgett, I believe) stove.

I would like to open my own shop utilizing a wood oven and high quality ingredients to create the best pizza possible. Obviously there will be adjustments made to justify cost of goods etc but I never want to market my business based on price.

I also want to sell panini and maybe some artisan breads. The bakery in our area eliminated bread a few years back and I feel there might be a market for that. Perhaps I can also bake the bread in the wood oven.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi and I will be learning a lot from here.

mfiore 06-14-2012 12:10 PM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
Hi, Josh. Welcome! Your aspirations sound great. Keep us posted. Where in Michigan do you plan to set up shop? I'll be sure to travel!

JR351 06-14-2012 12:35 PM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
Just north of Big Rapids. I live in a small town but its strange how some businesses do so well in small towns. The pizza joint I use to work at made roughly $1,000 min to $1,400 on a good night.

Since working at this business my taste buds have changed. I think a lot of it has to do with my wife. She is a great cook and is part Italian. Her cooking has really made me more diverse and appreciate how good food can taste.

I find it interesting regarding the sticky referring to dough. Caputo flour? Never heard of it, but am willing to give it a shot. The place I worked at used typical flour, water, yeast, salt, and veg oil (if I remember). We stirred the water, yeast, salt, and veg oil for 10 minutes and then added the flour. However the dough wasnt mature enough to use until it sat over night in the cooler. If we needed to use it, the dough would raise but was limited. It wouldnt darken like normal but would spot.

Sauce, we mixed cans of sauce, puree, water, salt, oregano, basil, and garlic. The sauce wasnt too bad but they have changed something since. It is a little sweeter tasting and it really doesnt taste as well as it use to.

Mozz, we purchased from sysco in blocks and grinded it the night before. I would like to research making your own. I believe there might be something there.

mfiore 06-15-2012 08:19 AM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
My unsolicited suggestions:

Perhaps this is blasphemy on Forno Bravo, but having a brick wood fired oven alone does not make for a good pizza. Certainly, better pizza is achievable with a wood fired oven than you could ever hope for in a conventional. There are plenty of "brick oven pizza" places around, though, that make terrible pizza. I think more emphasis should be placed on the quality of the ingredients and, most importantly, the technique. Making a pizza in a wood oven is going to be very different than your traditional pizza making experience. I would get a hold of some 00 flour, perhaps Caputo, and experiment in a hot oven with a pizza stone.

Use simple, fresh ingredients. Making your own Mozz would be awesome. Make your sauce rather than canned sauce (canned tomatoes are ok as a base). Fresh herbs rather than dried, etc. My biggest pet peeve - no canned mushrooms.

You get the point. There are plenty of OK or good pizza places, but if you are going to put forth the effort and expense of a brick oven, push yourself to make artisanal pizzas! You are in a region (presumably Reed City or Cadillac?) with nothing that will compare!

JR351 06-15-2012 07:26 PM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
I completely agree with what you are saying. I know that if I were to go ahead with this that I would be the only pizza business within a 1 hour area that would sell a wood fired pizza.

I hate canned mushrooms! Well I shouldnt say hate since its such a strong word but its not fresh. I have been reading up on the 00 flour. I see that Meijer (which you should be familiar with) sells King Arthur brand flour. I not see an italian style as I have seen on google. How do I go about finding an 00 flour. From what I understand it has to do with how fine it is.

With a wood fired oven, how reasonable or practical is it? Being that it is fed with wood, how often do you have to feed it to keep optimal temps? I would think with a business that it would become costly. Maybe more than natural gas?

mfiore 06-18-2012 04:20 PM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
The 00 flour handles differently than the all purpose. I love it, but in my opinion, the real benefits are not appreciable in a standard oven. It's when you use a high temp wood fired oven that you notice a difference, not just in the taste, but especially how the dough handles. If you are find yourself near Saginaw, MI very often (or ever), there is a local shop that can special order it for you. Send me a private message if you are interested.

How much wood is used? There are too many variables to address that. How well insulated is the oven? What is the thermal mass to keep hot? How often will it be used? What type of wood do you have access to? Is it outside or inside? Obviously, if the oven is used regularly, it stays hot and you don't need as much to heat it up every time.

As far as wood, this is MICHIGAN. One thing we are not short of is trees! There are also plenty of winter storms knocking down the trees. Keep your eyes and ears open. Once people know I burn hardwood, I'm always called about a tree down if I want the wood to split.

JR351 06-18-2012 07:34 PM

Re: Greetings from Michigan
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Last night I made my first pizza. At least since I worked with pizza for a living. I used packaged dough that my wife bought. Yeah I know its not homemade and its not caputo but I was short on time and wanted to try something. I do want to experiment with making my own dough though. Anyway, as far as sauce, I kinda followed a recipe regarding San Marzano tomatoes. Only difference was they weren't San Marzanos. What I used were a can of organic peeled whole tomatoes from Meijer. This was really all they had. I removed the tomatoes from can without the water, added salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and basil. Mixed it up and I was actually impressed. Im sure it was quite different than what San Marzanos would taste but compared to a lot of the canned pizza sauce crap that is available I thought I did good. My wife even liked it.

I would like to make my own oven but I may be moving here in the next few months so it will have to wait. I was planning on buying a new Weber grill. I saw the pizza kettle attachment that can be used. I thought about going that route to try it out. They claim 700-900 degree temps are possible.

Here is an image of what I made. I know its nothing like what you guys are making with your ovens. One of these days I will get there.

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