Combine two food lovers with a passion for pizza and a market thick with world-renowned dining options and one might argue that opening a pizzeria is ill-advised. Pizzeria Prima Strada’s owners, Geoffrey and Cristen DeCarolis Dallas, noticed some “white space” in a Victoria, B.C., culinary scene sorely lacking an authentic neighborhood pizzeria. The Dallas’ envisioned a place you can walk to with your family and friends and have a great food experience. They set about creating a warm, inviting environment where patrons could see their food being made and enjoy an authentic Italian experience that celebrated the best in local ingredients.
Combine two food lovers with a passion for pizza and a market thick
with world-renowned dining options and one might argue that opening a
pizzeria is ill-advised.
Pizzeria Prima Strada’s owners, Geoffrey and
Cristen DeCarolis Dallas, noticed some “white space” in a Victoria,
B.C., culinary scene sorely lacking an authentic neighborhood pizzeria. The Dallas’ envisioned a place you can walk to
with your family and friends and have a great food experience. They set
about creating a warm, inviting environment where patrons could see
their food being made and enjoy an authentic Italian experience that
celebrated the best in local ingredients.
Their business concept included procurement of a wood-burning pizza
oven imported from Italy that cooks the pizza at 850 degrees for three
minutes “We focus only on Neapolitan pizza. Our pizza –or in Italian, pizze
–are made by pizzaioli. Pizzaiolo is the Italian word for a male pizza
chef. We have a very talented woman – a pizzaiola – on our team as
well,” says Cristen DeCarolis Dallas.
The Dallas’ were focused from the start about staying the course in
terms of product authenticity and quality. The menu is simple but
elegant, offering just one size of crust adorned with several different
“We make only one size of pie. It is roughly 10 to 12 inches in
diameter. Admittedly, we have a number of very willing customers that
try to understand the single size and focused ingredients. We do get
calls for delivery and extra large and feta cheese and chicken pizza.
We don’t offer any of those options,” says Dallas.
Prima Strada is located in the Cook Street Village neighbourhood. The
village is pedestrian friendly and boasts a small town atmosphere. With
its proximity to downtown, it is one of Victoria’s most popular
locations for people looking to rent or own. For the Dallas’, it was as
much about demographics as it was the psychographics, or the
psychological profiles of potential buyers.
“We certainly studied the numbers in our neighborhood – walking and
driving traffic, transit, population, education, income. We chose our
neighborhood because we wanted to be part of a community that includes families, seniors and
young singles. Offering the product that we do – traditional food with
a focus on the local – flips us into the psychographic numbers,”
A great concept and solid location may be cornerstones of a successful
enterprise, but as Pizzeria Prima Strada demonstrates, it’s not only
what you do but how you do it that tips the scales in your favour.
The Dallas’ have tapped into the consumer trend of eating local by
blending it beautifully with their authentic Italian positioning and
leveraging several official certifications from Italy.
“The DOC [denominazione di origine controllata], DOP [Denominazione
d’Origine Protetta] and VPN categories are very much a part of what we
do. We offer a few DOC wines and our parmesan and prosciutto are both
DOC certified. For us, the certification that would be appropriate is
VPN [Verace Pizza Napoletana found at www.verapizzanapoletana.org]. We
follow the guidelines set forth by the VPN with 00 flour and wood
burning but ultimately our focus is to create the very best food we can
using the highest quality ingredients. Consumers are becoming more
aware of the designations, their importance and meaning every day.”
Pizzeria Prima Strada has also given new meaning to the phrase movable feast.
“We have had the mobile idea in the back of our minds from the
beginning. What could be better than pizza al fresco? The mobile oven
arrived just recently and we are anticipating many possibilities –
fairs, festivals, weddings, birthday celebrations and corporate
events…We plan to market the mobile oven to local businesses looking to
offer a different catered event.”
In mid-September Prima Strada participated in Feast of Fields, a
fundraising event for Farm Folk City Folk, an organization focused on
promoting a sustainable local food system. That event was followed by
celebrating Apple Day with Sea Cider (a local cidery) which included a
feast of apple pizza and apple cider. Prima Strada has leveraged
e-marketing tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging to build relationships
with consumers. Their print advertising has focused on publications
that appeal to foodies.
“We’ve focused our marketing in places we believe gives us the most
receptive audience: Monday Magazine, Island Parent, Play, EAT Magazine
as well as symphony and opera programs. We support local organizations
and schools that are within our neighborhood and share our philosophies
about food. We realize Facebook, Flikr, newsletters and blogging are
important as well, perhaps more so than print ads these days. For us,
it is mostly about letting people know we exist. That is a challenge in
a city rated as having one of the highest restaurants per capita in
North America,” points out Dallas.
For Pizzeria Prima Strada, it’s all about staying focused on the point
of differentiation they offer, as well as the market they’re targeting.
It’s also about loving what you do. When we asked Dallas what she and her husband Geoffrey loved most about pizza she responded:
“Both the simplicity and the complexity. Simple and really good
ingredients; flour, water, salt, tomatoes, cheese are transformed into
warm, savory pie of love. Wow, that sounds a little nutty but think
about the best pizza you’ve had and how it made you feel. Yep, there’s
Print this page