HOLLYWOOD: Pizzeria thinks big
Richard Weitz is looking for a slice of the pizzeria business with his new
restaurant Giant Pizza in Hollywood.
BETH FEINSTEIN-BARTL, Special to The Miami Herald Page
If you have a really big craving for pizza, Richard Weitz is your man. Behind the counter of Giant Pizza in west Hollywood, Weitz is catering to hungry patrons by churning out 20-inch, New York-style thin, crispy crust pies. He's been serving the hearty portions at the storefront restaurant in a Publix shopping plaza on Taft Street since August.Weitz is banking on the huge pies to give him an edge in the business. The industry standard for a large pie is typically 16 to 18 inches. He also aims to offer customers good value.With the motto, ''BIGGEST PIZZAS at the smallest prices,'' the menu lists a giant cheese pie for $11.50. It's enough to feed a family of four and still have leftovers.The shop caters to smaller appetites, too. An individual 10-inch version costs $5.95. A medium 14-inch, $8.95. Single slices are $1.95. A choice of 17 toppings, like Genoa salami and jalapeños, are extra.Additional menu items include calzones, strombolis, subs, cheese steaks, wings, antipasto and cheesy garlic rolls that! Weitz calls Bronx Bombers. Most items cost less than $5. A cup of Italian ice and an ice cream cone cost $1 each. Specials on pizzas, sandwiches and other fare also cut costs.The shop duplicates the hand-tossed pizzas that Weitz learned to make as a kid growing up in Brooklyn's Canarsie section, watching the ''old-timers'' who worked the ovens at his after-school job.His teenage, part-time gig working at a pizza parlor turned into a career. Weitz co-owned a pizzeria in his childhood stomping grounds during the 1980s, then moved to South Florida in 2001 and briefly operated a sandwich shop in Fort Lauderdale.The past few years, Weitz worked in management positions at various restaurants until a layoff made him rethink his career. He decided that being his own boss again might be a better way to deal with the economic downturn.''Rather than look for another job, I created one,'' he said. He then decided to think on a grander scale.''When I had my own parlor in New York, the largest pie I made was 18 inches,'' Weitz said. ''I wanted to go bigger, but couldn't. The [takeout] pizza boxes were too costly. Now manufacturing is more advanced. There's more options.''For the pizzas, Weitz said he uses whole milk mozzarella cheese and crushed Italian plum tomatoes. Dough is made fresh daily.The 20-inch cheese pies are proving to be a favorite with his customers, along with specialty pizzas like the Coney Island, topped with sliced hot dogs and fried potatoes, and the lasagna pie's blend of ricotta, meatballs and marinara sauce. Another popular item is the Sicilian fries ($4.95), which can feed two to four people. The french fries are baked with mozzarella and Romano cheeses, then topped with chopped pepperoni, sausage and banana peppers. Although many years and miles apart, the new shop isn't too different from the one in Brooklyn. West Hollywood is a bit like the old neighborhood, he said. ''There's a lot of hard-working families here,'' Weitz said. ''The! area reminds me of home.''
November 15, 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 The Miami Herald