If you're looking for good, second-wave pizza, you'll have no trouble in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Southlake. Now Hurst gets a pie of its own with the first Texas location of Firenza Pizza, a young quick-serve chain founded in Virginia.
Firenza, a variation on the word "firenze," which translates to Florence, does pizzas that can be customized with nearly 40 toppings, from steak to mozzarella to roasted garlic. In fact, a pizza with those three toppings sounds like a winner. The pizza gets baked at high temperatures in a stone hearth oven and is ready in only a few minutes, as fast as fast food but a whole lot better.
The chain was founded in 2015 by two former Domino's Pizza franchisees who jumped on board the wave of Neapolitan-style quick-serve pizzerias. It's a crowded market, with national and local chains such as Blaze, Project Pie, Pie Five, and Fort Worth's own Pizza Snob.
Firenza pizzas start with hand-tossed dough, fresh San Marzano tomatoes, and cheese with no additives or fillers. Toppings include sausage, Buffalo-style chicken, mushrooms, olives, and more.
For those who don't want to choose, there are eight set options, such as the Big Kahuna with ham, bacon, pineapple, red onion, and jalapeños. There are also wings, meatballs, and salads.
There are 15 Firenza locations in far-flung cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Charlotte, Kansas City, and Louisville.
Local franchisees are Kyle Neal, a law enforcement officer, and his wife, Christie, who were looking at ways to supplement their retirement when that day arrives. They're targeting a November opening.
"This is our first franchise, and there was just something about the pizza and the experience," Kyle says.
He drove all the way from his home in Midlothian, Texas, to Virginia twice to watch how it was done and sample the food in a secret-shopper manner.
"It's a fast-casual pizza with a model that's similar to Chipotle," he says. "You watch it being made, and it bakes quickly. I'd eaten at some of the competitors, but I thought this was the best. The crust is so much better, and the ingredients are great."
He's partnered with a manager who will oversee some of the day-to-day while he finishes up his law enforcement career.
"The manager lives 15 minutes away, so it works out great for him, and we definitely hope to open more branches down the road," says Neal.