A Kokomo couple is bringing another first to town with the opening of PizzaCo., a pizzeria that offers Neapolitan pies.
The style originated in Italy and is made with red wheat flour and baked in ovens so hot the pizza cooks in 90 seconds, leaving the crust fluffy and airy on the inside and crunchy underneath. It’s a style PizzaCo. owners Collin and Bethan Johnson had been wanting to offer for several years, and now they’re looking forward to sharing it with the community with the opening of their new pizzeria.
“If you know us as a couple, we love hosting people at our house, and so I think this is just kind of a growth of that,” Bethan said. “Our desire is to produce obviously a really great pizza but then create a really awesome work environment, a place where we can continue what we love at our home and just continue that for the community.”
The couple has been working to perfect their pizza for some time. Since they got married, it’s been a dream of theirs to open a pizza business, and they knew they wanted to offer Neapolitan. They’ve cooked thousands of pizzas, they said, on a wood fire oven in their backyard and taste-tested them with friends to create a solid recipe.
Collin said he’s been fascinated with the Neapolitan style for some time, but the problem with it was that he said it’s sometimes seen as pretentious and marked with “special occasion” prices. His goal was to remove those barriers by making a Neapolitan style that not only was approachable but also so affordable that people could purchase it regularly.
“The biggest kind of pitfall with Neapolitan that you see a lot is a lot of Neapolitan places are — I hate to use the word pretentious — but they’re not very approachable. A lot of places you go, you get a 12-inch Neapolitan pizza, and it’s $18 or $20,” said Collin. “So our biggest goal was like, ‘OK, how do we make this approachable for everyone?’ So I’ve done everything I can to give someone a $9 Neapolitan pizza while still purchasing high-quality cheese, high-quality sauce and make it something that you could get for lunch and get that cool experience but at a price you can get all the time.”
Collin has thrown himself into researching and making the pizzeria the best he can – and that was in part a big thanks to the pandemic. While he and his wife had dreamed of opening a pizza shop one day, those dreams were accelerated when Collin lost his job in June. He was the head administrator at The Crossing, which closed because of financial hardships due to COVID-19.
Collin decided his options were to get another teaching job or go for his dream. He opted to go for his dream.
Since June, he’s found the best high-heat ovens, the best red wheat flour, the best cheese, the best sauces, and the best techniques that he could to put it all together. And even the wedge salads weren’t an oversight. The Johnsons said they’ve spent a lot of time also making those top-notch.
The crust takes 00 flour, a milled super fine flour that’s grown in Italy and North Dakota, he said. The almost tan in color flour gives off a smell that Collin said reminds him of old-school pizzerias. The dough stays at an ambient temperature for 24 hours and then is balled up the next day for baking. And if it’s not used then, it’s not used.
“It’s a fresh dough. It’s labor-full, but it’s fresh every day,” he said.
The most traditional Neapolitan pizza at PizzaCo. is the margherita pizza, which is made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Then there’s the T-rex pizza that’s all meats. For those who want something other than a tomato base, the white pizza is a solid option, said Collin. That pizza is made with white sauce, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese.
The pizzas come out of the oven with “little black spots,” and that’s on purpose, Collin said. It’s called leoparding, and it’s another technique used in the pizza industry.
“I always tell people, those little black spots, it’s not burnt. That’s called leoparding, and I’ve worked very hard to get it to you,” said Collin, laughing. “It’s the sugars caramelizing, and it gives it kind of a unique, smoky flavor with it.”
PizzaCo. opened in December with a soft launch, and starting this week, the pizzeria will be open with fulltime hours, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. A grand opening will be held Friday, Jan. 15, and customers will receive a free breadstick — also cooked in the high-heat ovens — with the purchase of a pizza.
PizzaCo. is located at 1443 Home Ave. For more information, call 765-867-6200. Delivery is available.