“The art of pizzaiola,” which is baking traditionally Italian pizzas has pushed Pizzeria Roma ahead of its competition. Despite the pandemic and popularity of pizzerias in Sudbury, owner, Roberto Ferrucci had the fortitude to follow his dream of creating a pizzeria business in his hometown.
The popularity of his restaurant launch spread nearly as fast as the pandemic as Ferrucci recalls word-of-mouth advertising “going bonkers.” Seven months later he became the recipient of Sudbury’s Community Votes Platinum Award for the best pizzeria for 2021.
Accolades are not new to Ferrucci. In the late 1980’s, Ferrucci moved to New York for two years assisting his uncle, Giuseppe run a popular pizzeria, known as Louie and Ernie’s. Soon after returning to Canada, he learned his contribution paid off as his uncle’s business won an award for the best pizza, despite the fact, “There was a pizzeria on every corner in the Bronx,” he said laughing.
His fascination for baking pizza started at the age of 10 when Ferrucci spent his summers assisting his uncle learning the art of pizzaiola. “I thought it was a real treat going to New York,” he said.
When his uncle returned to Italy, Ferrucci followed. He spent five summers as a young adult perfecting a European-style pie. He learned how to properly knead, toss and flip the dough in the air and stretch it to perfection. “It can’t be too thin in spots. It’s all in the finger-tips and the feel of it,” he said.
Ferrucci was destined to stay employed in the culinary industry and his childhood training allowed him to become involved in a string of other ventures and “restaurant gigs." He bought the franchise, Square Boys Pizzas in Oshawa and opened 11 pizzerias in Sudbury, as well. Then he ran a restaurant in Elliot Lake, facetiously named: Elliot’s Not Here and later opened Cranky Joe’s in Sudbury in 2003.
After 12 years, he decided to sell the place and retire.
But for a man who has pizza sauce for blood, Ferrucci became bored and restless after six months of retiring. Opportunity came knocking. Ferrucci’s father- in- law had a building available in a commercial location. “I always envisioned myself doing my own pizza business in my hometown as I got older,” he said. But up until this point his concept was well-- half-baked.
He needed a partner who was a great cook and shared his passion for an authentic European-style pizza. He found that in his Manager, Stuart Raymond, who recently owned Simon’s, a local restaurant. Raymond is from South Africa and worked as a chef and restaurateur in many countries around the world. Out of their friendship and collaboration, Pizzeria Roma was born.
THE SECRET SAUCE AND RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Ferrucci describes his award-winning pizza dough as, “a little from Italy and New York.” His sauce is “pure Italian” called passata made from strained tomatoes. He uses all fresh herbs and spices and adds them as he’s creating the pizza so the seasonings are not overcooked or lost in the sauce. The layering of the ingredients is “a technique” that’s paramount to enhancing its flavour and quality. His pie offerings include: The Godfather, The Mediterranean, The Margherita, Let’s Eat Meat, Roma Pizza and a Vegan Pizza. The latter was the most recent addition to the menu that’s entirely plant-based and already garnering him praise.
All of Pizzeria Roma’s pizzas are distinctively different, built with love and a variety of high-quality meats and cheeses topped and drizzled with a great tasting olive oil, which he describes as “the essence of life”. Pizzeria Roma also offers a Veal and Chicken Parmesan, Panzerotti and Garlic Wedges, which is a “spinoff from garlic sticks.”
Whether it’s from the shop window in the streets of New York or at local weddings and events, Ferrucci loves putting on a show and entertaining. He also has a portable trailer with a wood-burning oven which proved handy during the pandemic when he catered four outdoor weddings. Ferrucci said the wedding guests were positively surprised at the heavenly taste. “They loved it. I felt so proud after they tried it.”
Catering is an element of his business he would like to continue. Like any other art form, Ferrucci hopes to share his slice of spicy life from Italy to future generations to all those who have a passion for pizza. In so doing, he plans to open six more Pizzeria Roma locations in southern Sudbury sometime next year and will train his employees in the traditional art of pizzaiola to offer Italian cuisine to its mouth-watering perfection.
Ferrucci celebrated Pizzeria Roma’s first-year anniversary, Nov. 23. This landmark event “went very well. It was crazy busy. It was a lot of fun. It’s always fun,” said Ferrucci, who thanks all his customers and everyone that supported him during this challenging time.
Take it from Ferrucci, if life hands you lemons-- make limoncello.
For more information on Pizzeria Roma visit pizzeriaroma.ca or call 705-561-7166.