The prepared food industry is booming as consumers increasingly rely on quick and easy meals to accommodate their busy schedules.
Pizzas, one of the most popular prepared foods, can be tailored to fit numerous tastes and has become a staple for many across the region. For Nada Ristanovic, pizza has been a part of her family for the last 26 years. Ristanovic owned and operated a pizza parlour in her home town of Gorazde in Bosnia before she moved with her family to Canada in 1995.
For the last seven years she worked at a franchised pizza joint until she decided to take the risk and open her own pizza palour, Pizzeria Napoli. Ristanovic based the name of her restaurant on the city of Naples, Italy, “the birthplace of pizza” she said.
Opening a pizza shop is not difficult if you have a good business plan, said Ristanovic, who is using her experiences to help her establish Breslau’s only family-owned pizzeria.
“We have had a great response from the public so far, and a lot of them are telling me it is great that Breslau has a place like this for the residents,” said Ristanovic standing at the front counter of her restaurant. “Breslau is growing and I wanted to be a part of that, offering good food that I know how to make.”
The 800-square-foot store located at the plaza at 10 Dolman St. offers a dining area for customers, even though take-out pizza by the slice or the pie is the main choice for customers. Ristanovic uses an old family recipe for both the dough – available in both white or whole wheat – and the sauce, saying she only uses natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives.
“It is important to me that the food not only tastes great but is healthier for my customers as well,” she said. “For the business to grow and continue we are going to have to offer the best food we can with the best taste. That comes from using quality ingredients, and a good sauce that people enjoy. It also helps that we keep our prices reasonable.”
Every day, Ristanovic arrives early to start prep, making the hand tossed dough and adding the special secret ingredients to her sauce. Pizza is not the only staple at her shop: they make handmade panzerottis, subs and oven-roasted chicken wings. She says the key to her success will be the stone ovens she uses in the restaurant.
“I make everything in the oven, pizzas, panzerottis and chicken wings. Everything is cooked in there and everything is fresh. It may take a little longer than the bigger pizza joints, but I am making sure everything is cooked well. I will not have my pizzas come out undercooked and raw in the centre.”
Ristanovic has the timing down perfectly, knowing it only takes 10 minutes to cook a pizza in the oven and chicken wings take around 15 minutes. As for the wings, she prepares them herself, buying raw chicken wings and adding the spices and batter and does not fry them in oil but bakes them serving them mild, hot, BBQ or honey garlic style. Pizzeria Napoli is a three-person operation with Ristanovic’s husband and their 16-year-old son, Jovan, helping on the weekends. Currently the pizzeria is take-out or dine-in, but Ristanovic has plans to add a delivery service once she feels the venture is more established.
“As with everything it is going to take time. I am building this one step at a time, making sure everyone likes the products I am making and then I will add more to the restaurant,” she said. “It is very exciting to be a part of the community and I am looking forward to being here for a long time serving pizza.”
The shop opens at 11 a.m. every day and closes at 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The busiest time for the pizza parlour is between 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. when Ristanovic says she is basically run off her feet filling orders.
“Pizza is a lot like a business: while toppings may get all the attention, it’s the crust on the bottom that holds it all together. The stuff on the top may add flavor and pizzazz, but without the bottom stuff the whole thing just falls apart and no one wants that.”