And now … Tampa Bay pizza

by Dan Malovany
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When it comes to pizza, forget Chicago deep dish or New York’s thin, foldable slices. In the Tampa Bay area, Alessi Bakeries’ Scachatta Sicilian Pizza rules. Unlike conventional pizza, Scachatta is not eaten hot from the oven or draped with cheese. Rather, the popular pizza from southern Italy is designed to be eaten at room temperature on the same day it’s made, although consumers can heat it if they prefer.

Scachatta, which means “smash the bread” in Sicilian, has a soft, even-textured crust topped with the Alessi family’s homemade sauce with up to 20% meat, a sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. The pizza accounts for 11% of the retail bakery’s sales, according to Phil Alessi Jr., CEO of the Tampa, FL-based company.

For wholesale production, Alessi Bakeries developed a thaw-and-serve version that’s cut into small rectangular pieces for snacking. It plans to invest upwards of $1 million later this year to automate production of the signature pizza for retail customers and supermarket in-store bakeries. In addition to a new production line, the bakery will convert 12,000 sq ft of storage space in its wholesale facility into a USDA-certified production room. Scachatta has a 12-month shelf life when frozen and 24 hours after it’s slacked out.

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