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AUGUST 2008

LITTLE ITALY
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Smoking Bans — pg 30
Pasta Cuts — pg 38
Cookies — pg 48
Campania Pizza, Dallas, Texas Marketing Pasta — pg 62
Our 2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year Carryout Packaging — pg 65
— pg 72 Handling Employee Tips — pg 69
2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

Pictured above, from


left to right: co-owner
Miles Pennella,
general manager
Maurizio Primo and
co-owner Jay Jerrier.

72 Pizza Today www.pizzatoday.com AUGUST 2008


2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

Campania offers Dallas


a welcome break from
barbecue, Tex-Mex and
steak

Story by Jeremy White and partly because he’s at ease


Photos by Rick Daugherty in the kitchen. Far from being
a casual investor, Jerrier has no

J
ay Jerrier glides into the formal culinary training. But
kitchen and plops a stain- he has a passion for pizza the
less steel bowl onto a way he feels it was intended to
counter. It’s filled with fresh be made and served — the
mozzarella that he made that Neapolitan way, that is. Sure,
very morning. Sure, he gets fior- there are variations. His hand
di-latte supplied to him from a is more liberal when it comes
couple of different sources, but to adding fresh basil to a tradi-
sometimes he likes to make it tional Margherita, for example.
himself. But, by and large, Jerrier is a
Perhaps it helps remind him purist who seems intent on
that, even in an age where honoring and preserving
competitors stumble over one pizza the way it is done in its
another to offer the lowest- birthplace. His establishment
priced end product possible, is part of a small-but-growing
authenticity can still make a trend in America: Neapolitan
difference. pizza is hot and gaining trac-
Jerrier is but one member of tion across the nation in cities
a group of individuals that as different as Pittsburgh and
owns Campania Pizza & Seattle.
More, a two-store juggernaut Even Dallas, known for its
in Dallas. He serves as the face steak and potatoes and not its
of an operation that includes Italian fare, is undergoing
nine other co-owners — partly somewhat of a pizza Renais-
because he’s at ease talking sance.
with members of the media “It’s nice to see,” says Jerrier,

AUGUST 2008 www.pizzatoday.com Pizza Today 73


2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

who doesn’t shun the competition.


“We weren’t the first and there’s really this
little group of pizzerias in Dallas that are
bringing this higher end product to market.”
By “higher end” Jerrier isn’t just talking
about the ingredients Campania uses. He’s
also referring to the look and feel of his
stores. The two will gross a combined $2.5
million this year and boast an average guest
check of $33. Despite its high volume —
Campania serves an average of 9,000
guests per month — the restaurant’s stores
have a deliberate feel to them. Far from
being designed to rush diners in and out,
the ambiance encourages patrons to take
their time and enjoy their experience. From
a plethora of ornate tile work to an inviting
bar and a strong dessert menu, Campania
captures the “slow dining” feel that is a
signature of upscale steak houses.
At least that’s the case at the Southlake
Town Square location — which cost $1.8
million to build and seats 230. The original
store, in West Village, seats up to 120 and
has more of a casual feel.
“They are two different stores tied
together with the same menu,” explains
Jerrier. “There is some tile work in West
Village and the Italian theme is there, it just
isn’t to the level of Southlake. We were able
to get into a larger location there and the
success of West Village enabled us to put
more into the opening of Southlake.”
In fact, roughly one-third of the South-
lake store’s buildout cost went to an Italian
company that laid the tile and brought in
the chairs. All told, Jerrier says Campania
spent nearly $600,000 on the tilework,
which includes an outdoor mural on an
upstairs dining deck. these tough economic times. “Even though
“We ended up going over our budget by we have 5,900 square feet here, the lease is
$300,000 because of construction delays,” only on 3,100 square feet and it’s for five
Jerrier says of the Southlake buildout. “Plus years with five-year renewal options.
we had some problems with the roof and Southlake is a really well-to-do area with a
we had to install an elevator.” lot of families and some of them eat out
While the end result is a beautiful pizza seven nights a week. We’re not serving
palace, the question begs: was it worth it? bone-in ribeyes here, so a family of four can
Definitely, answers Jerrier. get out of here for $30 or $40. But, at the
“Yes, because we’re the only pizzeria that same time, people can still come in here
can be in this whole shopping complex,” and feel like they’re in a nice restaurant.
he says. Southlake Town Square offers I think we’ve built a pretty good concept.
dozens of upscale shops and caters to an We just have to have good quality pizza
affluent suburban demographic that has and treat our staff well and keep our
plenty of disposable dining income in even customers and our staff happy.”

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2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

finished with a house-made “We make our dough every


dressing. Then there’s the morning for use the next day,”
“Prosciutto Melon” appetizer. he says. “We mix it for 15
The name speaks for itself and minutes and then give it a one-
is one of the most simplistic, hour rise with a damp towel.
authentic and delicious of all From there we ball it up and
Italian dishes. cover it in the fridge. It gets
Prices range from $5 for an about a 24- to 28-hour rise
appetizer of imported olives before we use it the next day.”
marinated in extra virgin olive It’s a pretty typical process,
oil and herbs to $21 for an but since Campania more or
18-inch “Primavera” — a large, less sells all of the dough it
white pizza with cherry toma- makes each day, there is little
toes, extra virgin olive oil, margin for error. In the case of
arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano a mid-day equipment failure,
and San Daniele prosciutto. Jerrier says Campania’s dough
Food accounts for 73 percent can be rushed into service.
Those are, in fact, the don’t do that by starting off of Campania’s sales. Pizza, “If there’s an emergency and
challenges of every pizzeria. with inferior flour.” meanwhile, comprises 80 we’re out of dough, we can let
Campania makes fulfilling percent of food sales. The most it sit outside for about seven
those goals look easy by taking Though the menu at popular pizza size, says Jerrier, hours and then use it,” he
a “quality first” approach. The Campania is diverse, it is far is the medium. Though the explains. “We want it to have
trademark of many of today’s from overwhelming. True to menu lists it at 14 inches in a little bit of a yeasty flavor
top independent restaurants, Italian form, it is character- diameter, Jerrier says it’s usually still, but of course we don’t
this mindset means being ruth- ized by simplicity. closer to 12 inches “depending want to blow it.”
less about ingredient selection Take the “Estiva,” for exam- on who’s stretching it.” Campa- Though not ideal, the option
and being willing to pay more ple. The gourmet Neapolitan nia also offers a 7-inch small allows Jerrier’s kitchen crew to
for the best the marketplace has pizza contains but four ingredi- pizza. Five ounces of dough is get through the day without
to offer. ents (besides the dough, of used to make its base, while management having to turn
“You can’t use substandard course): tomato sauce, extra 9.5 ounces is used for a medium customers away.
ingredients in a concept like virgin olive oil, mozzarella and and 16 ounces for a large. “It’s a simple dough,” says
this and expect to pull it off,” white onions. The basic salad, Jerrier says the company starts Jerrier. “Water, flour, yeast and
says Jerrier. “Our focus here or “Basica,” offers Romaine its dough production with 55- salt — that’s it. It’s about mixing
is on bringing an authentic lettuce, cherry tomatoes, moz- pound bags of flour. Each bag it in the right combinations.
Italian pizza to Dallas. You zarella and Parmesan. It’s yields approximately 150 pizzas. “With our sauce, we like to

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2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

finished to order.
Besides having a more luxurious feel, the
Southlake Town Square location has two
more key differences from the West Village
store. Production wise, West Village has
deck ovens while Southlake features the
wood-burning variety. Jerrier says the latter
is his preference, but the West Village store
add a sprinkle of grated Parmesan to it. It ous sauces, ranging from Alfredo to tomato simply doesn’t have the space to accommo-
disintegrates right into the sauce and gives vodka. Growing in popularity is the pesto, date them. The second difference is an
it a real nice flavor. Since we don’t put any which is made in house and is character- important profit center: the bar. While West
salt in the sauce, it’s an important step.” ized by a uniquely sweet flavor. Village doesn’t have one (subsequently
Many of the pizzas receive a drizzle of The pasta, meanwhile, is cooked just its check average is about $12 lower than
olive oil before they go into the oven. short of al dente every morning and then Southlake’s), alcohol accounts for 27
Though most Italian pizzerias prefer to add
fresh basil after the ‘za comes out of the
oven, Campania takes a different approach.
While he realizes it isn’t conventional to
add the basil beforehand, Jerrier says,
“we do it that way because we think it
makes it a little more aromatic.”
Panini, calzones, pasta and dessert round
out the menu.
“We run three or four pasta specials each
day,” says Jerrier. “The lasagna Bolognese is
probably our best seller. It’s really, really
popular. There’s no ricotta in it, and I think
that appeals to a lot of people.”
The daily pasta specials make use of vari-

78 Pizza Today www.pizzatoday.com AUGUST 2008


2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

percent of sales at the Southlake shop.


“It makes a huge difference,” says Jerrier.
“Our bar gets real busy and you’ll see a
lot of beer and wine on our tables when
we’re packed.”
The top selling beer is imported Peroni.
“I think it’s because we’re an Italian restau-
rant and people want that experience when
they come here.”
In fact, beer sells so well that Jerrier says,
“If I knew when we opened what I know
now, I would have put in a lot more taps.”
According to Jerrier, Campania pays
between 50 and 75 cents for 16 ounces of
draft beer and between 80 and 90 cents for
a typical 12-ounce bottle.
“We pay less for the draft and charge
more for it,” he says. “That’s why we’re
looking to add five more taps.”
In all, Campania offers 16 beers and
43 wines (15 whites and 28 reds). The top
sellers are the usual suspects: pinot grigio
and chianti.
“We wanted to put together a big wine
list, so we put a lot of thought into it,” says
Jerrier. “We wanted to be sure we offered a
lot of Italian wines.”
Glasses are priced between $7 and $13,
while most bottles are below $40.
“We could mark up our wine more, but
we’re trying to get people into them, so we
have priced it very reasonably,” Jerrier says.
One of the ways Campania is striving to
move its customers deeper into the wine
culture is by educating its front-of-the-
house staff so they can better upsell the
product.
“Wine reps do classes with our servers
once a month,” says Jerrier. “And our beer

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2008 Independent Pizzeria of the Year
Campania PIzza & More, Dallas, Texas

garnered plenty of positive local press. In


fact, D Magazine even named Campania
one of Dallas’ best new restaurants. The
word of mouth has created considerable
buzz — made more valuable by the fact
Campania’s owners went so far over budget
on the Southlake buildout.
“We do a lot of community outreach,”
Jerrier says of Campania’s marketing
program. “We donate a lot of gift cards to
local high schools and stuff flyers into
goodie bags at events. We’ll get involved
with charity auctions and other events that
give back like that.
“One of the things we really like to do is
what we call ‘Pizzaiolo for a Day.’ Whoever
wins an auction for charity gets to come in
for two or three hours and prep stuff. They
make mozzarella, make sauce, make
dough, make fresh pasta. They cook a few
things and then they get to have their
friends come in at five o’clock and eat what
they worked on making that day.”
Besides that, Jerrier says wine tastings have
worked to bring in new customers as well.
“Another thing we do is pick a slow day,
usually a Monday or a Tuesday, and team
up with a charity. They do all the work by
spreading the word for the event and we
donate 10 percent of sales for that evening
to the charity. That works out well and we
don’t have to do anything to promote it.”
Jerrier adds that the gift card donations
Campania makes have a high redemption
rate and usually work to cultivate new
regulars. He tracks their usage on the
company’s point of sale system, which
distributors show our servers how to pour he says is indispensible to operators in
the beer so it has a good head on it.” this day and age.
In fact, Jerrier says liquor distributors “I don’t know how anybody runs a
can be one of a restaurant’s most valuable business without one,” he says. “It gives
business partners. you instant data and I’m a big believer
“We bought a lot of different glassware that what gets measured gets managed.
in the beginning,” he explains, “but then You don’t have to wait until the end of the
we pretty much discovered that the beer month to track trends, track inventory,
vendors will give you pretty much whatever track your gift cards or loyalty program.
you want — glasses, napkins ... whatever It’s so easy to load your customer info into
will help them sell their product to you.” a database and track their recent orders
and how often they’re in here. As you can
Campania is in the enviable position probably tell, I like to be hands-on and
of not having to market much to see the data in a certain way.” ❖
produce big sales.
Thanks in part to its authenticity and
pacesetting ways in Dallas, the concept has Jeremy White is editor-in-chief at PIZZA TODAY.

80 Pizza Today www.pizzatoday.com AUGUST 2008