By MEGAN CHAMPION
“Someone put an XL cheese on!”
A flour-covered, apron-wearing, slightly exasperated employee scurries over to the pre-made extra-large cheese pizzas on the rack and places one on the lower oven.
“Cheese is on!” he yells back.
This is Vocelli’s Pizza, where the long lines are still the shortest ones at the Nest during the lunch rush, and where you can call for a large Meat Magnifico with extra bacon at 11:30 at night on a Wednesday.
The birth of a pizza begins with the dough. The dough comes on trays, and, surprisingly enough, it’s only 31 cents for a piece of small dough and 35 cents for a piece of large, which can also be stretched to be an extra-large size. Dough-stretching is a process of magic to most, but to those that are able to do it, stretching is almost second nature. William Hurley, one of the shift managers and a former delivery driver, said that once he caught himself washing his face in the same motions he uses to stretch dough.
“I was kneading my face,” he said. Because so few employees are able to do it, those that are able are often stuck kneading dough the whole shift.
The next step in this delicious process is topping the pizza. While one would normally assume that all pizzas get some sort of sauce and some sort of cheese, there have been orders where a customer asks for a pizza with our marinara sauce and just buffalo chicken on top. No cheese.
“We go through about 880 pounds of cheese a week,” says Steve Randall, Store Manager. Randall’s face crinkles up a little as he says this, because the expense of cheese can be a sore spot for employees. Any cheese waste is considered taboo.
A little bit more flexible in price is the sauce, and while Vocelli’s still goes through about 238 gallons of it in a week, it is not nearly as expensive as the mozzarella.
After the pizza is covered with sauce, and, hopefully, cheese, we move on to the actual pizza gold mine: our glorious array of toppings. We sell a large variety of toppings, from the basic ones like green peppers and bacon, to the more obscure like artichoke and capicola, a spicy type of ham. The most popular topping is pepperoni.
“We go through about 75 to 100 pounds of pepperoni a week,” J Tomlinson, Former Manager, says as he’s flipping through the paperwork.
While pepperoni is important because of the popularity, employees seem to care less about the rest of the toppings. On any given shift, the likelihood that some employee will be hit with a flying piece of pineapple or a handful of sausage is fairly high.
This is nothing compared to the awkward phone calls we all have encountered.
“The worst was the time I misheard someone’s name,” Hurley said. “…I kept thinking he was saying his name was Harry Weiner. So, I told him I didn’t think his joke was funny or appropriate. Then, his friend got on the phone. Her name was Haley Weiner.”
A misheard phone call can be embarrassing, but forgotten delivery items are worse. One of the most common sentences heard over at the pizza cut table is,“I forgot the two liter!”
Last year, forgetting a two liter of Pepsi was not a major downfall, as we usually only had about 30 to 50 deliveries in a night. But, now, Vocelli’s will have about 80 to 100 deliveries a night on average, so forgetting something can be a pretty big setback.
“Did you get a tip?” Hurley asks as one of the delivery drivers for the night walks back into the dry storage area.
“No,” the driver grumbles.
I say always tip the delivery driver, but if you’re not going to do that, at least show some appreciation. Chances are, he had to go through some sort of trouble to get the special order Hawaiian pizza to your building on a cold, rainy, Tuesday midnight.
“They don’t have to tip, though. Sometimes just seeing them happy is even better,” Hurley says while he reflects on his experience as a delivery driver. “Just be appreciative.”
And why? Vocelli’s does a lot for the customers. And we try to do it with a smile on our faces. The smile is mostly because we chased someone else around the back with a handful of olives, but the customers should appreciate it nonetheless.
“Vocelli’s is full of amateur comedians- or just averagely funny people with good timing,” Sara Calpo, a former employee, says. But, not only do we have good timing with humor, we also do our best to make sure we have good timing with your pizza delivery too.