One such business is Neapolitan pizza restaurant Wood Fire Dine in Rothwell, Leeds, which completely overhauled its menu and embarked on doing delivery for the first time to keep serving customers its pizzas throughout the pandemic.
It hasn’t been without its challenges, but head chef and owner Mark Baber has made a success of it, with the help of Arla Pro, whose free guide ‘Be a pro at pizza delivery’ proved invaluable in the process.
“Our restaurant was thrown into turmoil when the pandemic hit in March and we had to put deliveries on,” says Barber, who is the Pizza and Pasta Association pizza chef of the year 2019 and still the current title holder. “It wasn’t something we’d done before and it wasn’t something we were comfortable doing, but the Arla Pro guide and Arla Pro’s mozzarella gave us flexibility. It gave us the chance to really do what we needed to do at that time.”
Streamlining the offer
As well as forcing him to close his business for dine in customers, necessitating a move into takeaway, the pandemic brought with it other problems that Baber had to overcome, including supply chain issues. As a result in changes to what ingredients the restaurant could regularly get its hands on, Baber slashed the number of pizzas on the menu from 19 to just nine, retaining only his high margin best sellers, that include a margherita, pepperoni, the ‘veg patch’, Vesuvio, topped with Yorkshire ham, pepperoni and chillies, and the ham and pineapple ‘porky fruit’.
“Changing from dine to takeaway, we had to address the margin levels and keep the delivery menu to high-margin products,” Baber explains. “We re-jigged the menu so we could make them quickly and retain the quality of the pizzas we were used to selling throughout delivery.”
Getting the melt right
Retaining this quality, but also helping speed up the process, was aided by the Arla Pro guide, which helped Baber choose the right cheese for his new delivery-only pizzas. As the guide explains, choosing the perfect mozzarella can make or break a pizza on delivery and chefs need to consider how cut, melt and coverage will affect the final product as it travels.
“A Neapolitan pizza is a very specific product - we had to recreate that style for a takeaway pizza in Leeds,” explains Baber, who says he used the Arla Pro guide to look at the different options available for cheese in terms of how it melts, cooking times and opacity. “A pizza has only three ingredients - the base, the sauce and cheese. The cheese has to be of the highest quality, has to have the right texture, has to melt the right way and it has to travel.”
On the guide’s suggestion, Baber opted for large diced mozzarella, which is better suited for pizzas that require cheese with a low coverage and a slow melt, such as Neapolitan ones.
“The cheese really keeps its colour, flavour and texture even when it starts to cool, which on a takeaway pizza is super important to us,” says Baber. “Large cubes give our pizza time to cook properly on the wood fired oven and get the browning and the leoparding we want before that cheese splits and ruins the pizza, which we would get if we were using a thinner cut mozzarella.
“With a wood-fired pizza there are no second chances. We needed a cheese that would melt consistently every time. For 60-90 seconds that product has to be perfect and we found that the Arla Pro was.”
Becoming a pizza delivery pro
With delivery predicted to become even more popular in the future, Arla Pro has created a free-to-download publication that offers expert advice to help restaurants tap into the UK’s £2.1bn pizza delivery market. The comprehensive 22-page ‘Be a pro at Pizza Delivery’ guide is suitable for restaurants that already serve pizza or those starting from scratch and covers all aspects of making the perfect pizzas for delivery, from tips on the building a pizza base and the different cheeses to use to recommendations on the optimum packaging and the delivery model. It also provides its seven top tips restaurants should consider before embarking on pizza delivery, including licensing, menu choices, kitchen set up, communicating with customers and choosing the right location. Download the free guide here https://www.arlapro.com/en-gb/be-a-pro-at-pizza-delivery-guide