Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

 

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” said a wise person once upon a time. This fact is absolutely true. Along with the risk comes the learning curve. A wood burning oven has a pretty steep curve and has taken some real trial-and-error to produce great pizza. I spent an entire 24 hours early on just rearranging the wood to see the effect on the floor and cooking times. Moving a pizza too early destroys it, waiting too long burns it and at 800 degrees plus, you cannot take your eye off it long. Thank you to all who have given us the opportunity to serve delicious pizza. To those we have failed by burning a pie or worse, popping a hole in it – which happens to the best of us in such a beast of an oven – we apologize. It will improve continually and thankfully, we can make another one.

One of the things I will never get used to is the venom of people who have had something as simple as too much water on their pizza from the 6 different veggies ordered cooking off in near 1000 degree heat, or those who come in with statements/questions like “the last owners failed, what makes you think you will succeed?” or “this isn’t NY, it’s Estes Park” and you can just feel the negativity. To those folks, I’d say don’t change from your favorite spot in town as your barbs will not be well received. Anyone who stands up and takes the risk business owners do is of a good cloth for it takes serious fortitude to bring a new taste to town. If you don’t like something, speak up right there rather than take shots at us on some social media platform and if you see me in the shop, let’s chat face-to-face. We’re human too and doing the absolute best we are able. Since we’ve only been open a month, all of the processes are not in place yet to make everything seamless. Make no mistake, they will be.

Food is supposed to be enjoyed and fulfilling. That’s what we’re here for- to make you smile when you take that first bite and realize that it’s so different from what you’re used to that you’re taken aback.

Lastly, a big thank you to all of our employees who are evolving with us and to the regulars who have been back time and time again. Our sole goal is to bring you authentic tastes you will find few places outside of New York City or Long Island.

Growing pains

The year is about to end and we got a very late start. The toughest time to start a business in Estes Park is winter and of course, that’s exactly what we did. What have we learned?

1- Estes Park has some of the realest people of any town I have ever been in long enough to really get to know people. They tell it straight and many are business owners so they understand the struggle. I am thankful for all of the suggestions and words of encouragement.

2- Wood burning pizza ovens are less forgiving than my Grandma- and that’s saying something. It’s a beast to learn and manage but produces the best tasting food imaginable.

3- Start small. We all have many ideas and to try to implement a bunch simultaneously is suicide without a huge team of people. The processes take some time to develop and constantly evolve. People ask every day if we have: salads, delivery, sandwiches, etc., Get one thing right and then add others. Right now, we are doing pizza.

4- There are people who would rather eat something delivered than go out for something extraordinary.

5- Not everyone is your customer. Accept that and move on.

6- If you’re willing to accept positive feedback, you have to be able to accept negative. And, you have to act on it. We have had many pieces of positive and negative feedback that are greatly appreciated. Remember, food is very personal. I’ve learned recently that not many people know what a cannoli is. Even fewer have heard of a garlic knot. So, we must educate and introduce. This is one hell of an opportunity and we will not squander it. If you’d like to know more about pizza or whatever we serve, come on in. Lastly, there are those who will just make nasty comments and they came to your business to do it because of whatever reason. Accept that and let go. Very few will remain customers but they present an opportunity to change perception.

7- Put yourself out there without fear. Nothing monumental is achieved without risk. Yeah, someone is definitely going to say your stuff sucks. That’s life. Those who see opportunity, come up with a game plan and take the shot are people I truly appreciate. Learning a new trade is wrought with risk but truly enjoyable when you master each task. The funny part is, you never really master a task, you simply become increasingly proficient, but don’t be afraid to look at how far you’ve come.

Thank you All for the opportunity and friendship. May your New Year be safe, prosperous and above all Healthy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions: I have found that the same questions are asked all the time have included them below.

The frequent questions are:

1- Are you really from New York? Yes, Born, Raised, Trained and Educated.

2- How long have you been here? 8 years.

3- Why did you move here? Because I love the mountains, wildlife and wanted to live somewhere our kids could afford to live. Anyone from Downstate NY understands what $12,000 a year in taxes feels like and many know even more. Yes, $12,000. A year. Increasing forever.

4- Did you build that oven? No, Angie, the owner of Picnic in the Park commissioned it and oversaw the build. It was her baby. I now take care of it the same way she did.

5- What makes a NY pizza a NY pizza? The dough formula, the unique sauce and the cheese blend. It has crust, some oil on top and is very unique in taste. Don’t believe me? Bring in any pie and we’ll do a side-by-side taste comparison.

6- Do you make your own dough? Yes, every day. It’s my formula and has evolved to fit the altitude and lack of humidity.

7- Do you make your own sauce? Yes, every day. Sauce is what makes the pie and I’m a fan of a spicy sauce. It wasn’t always that way, so I’ve had to tone it down a bit.

8- Do you have gluten free pizza? No. The crusts are pre-made and cost $8 each and are smaller than our smallest pie. Can you imagine the cost when spoilage is included? Me neither.

9- What is your smallest pizza? 14″ which is the large in most places. Our large is 18″

10- What is a Sicilian Pizza? It’s a rectangle or square that is first risen in a pan, then finished in the oven. It’s thicker than most but not Chicago style thick. It’s a specialty that has more sauce and more dough than any of our other pies.

11- Are you crazy opening up in November? Yes.

12- Do you have a website? Yes, http://www.estesparkpizza.com/

13- Can we order online? Yes, at https://mkt.com/antoniosnewyork

14- What’s your favorite topping? Meatball.

15- Jets or Giants? Jets.

16- Mets or Yankees? Yankees. Forever. Thurman Munson was my favorite player. When he died in that plane crash, I was devastated. He was my idol.

17- Soccer team? Colorado Rapids!