Did you know that the world’s first pizza was reportedly made in 997 AD? Tomatoes hadn’t yet been cultivated in Italy, so the pizza was more a round, flat, crisp savoury dough that had been cooked, like focaccia.
We’ve come a long way since then, with pizzas of all shapes and sizes, using every type of cheese and sauce known to man, topped with everything under the sun, even — the horror — pineapples.
India has its own fan base (pun unintended) for pizza. Chicago Pizza, which has over 50 outlets in Delhi, is looking to capture the base in Chennai next. It has come up with two franchise outlets in the city: one strategically opposite Stella Maris College and the other near The Music Academy on Cathedral road.
How they got started
“My wife and I often travel to Delhi, and we would always pick up a slice from Chicago Pizza. We got to meet the owners, who were looking to expand down South, and decided to open a franchise. In this region, Chicago Pizza is only found in Chennai. We plan to open around 20 outlets around the city and then more in the State,” says Chennai franchisee Mohit Bansal. The name appears to have nothing to do with the style, though. Unlike the traditional thick crust, deep dish pizza that is iconic to Chicago, US, this chain of stores offer a thinner base.
Catering mainly to college students and people who wish to grab a slice to go, — usually working people — the 30-seater outlet opposite the college is popular for what is called a ‘monster slice’. It’s a single slice of pizza cut from an 18-inch ‘party pizza’ that is priced at ₹1,200. “We can customise the party pizza any way you like: up to four different types of pizza on one 18-inch crust.”
They have a lot in store for Chennai, with plans to offer a make-it-yourself pizza kit to take home. They provide the base and the sauce, leaving it up to customers to customise (again, pun intended) it any way they like. Desserts, too, will make it on the menu very soon, with Chennai outlets being the first to offer this.
The crowd pleasers, says Mohit, are the veggie overload and non veg overload. Children usually prefer the classic margarita pizza and pink pasta. “The menu is standardised. We receive all the raw materials, recipes and even the designs for the outlet from the Delhi headquarters,” Mohit says. “We buy vegetables from local sources, but the base and sauce ingredients are all sent in from Delhi and we make if fresh every day. Ultimately we want to maintain the essence of the original stores.”
Prices for a single slice start at ₹99. Chicago Pizza is open through the week, from noon to 11 pm. For details, call 6383914717.