New Ridgefield pizza business stresses family time
RIDGEFIELD — PIY is reinventing family pizza night.
Instead of making pizzas on demand, PIY delivers the ingredients to customers on Thursday and families can make the pies together over the weekend. The dough is made with unbleached and unbromated flour and the rest of the ingredients are organic and locally grown, when available.
“We found that we can really indulge in pizza and still eat cleanly,” PIY co-founder Grace Winstanley said. “As a family, we are concerned about what our kids eat, and since pizza brings us so much joy we wanted to make the best clean version of pizza with non-GMO, fresh, organic and local farm ingredients.”
PIY is also working on a gluten-free pizza.
Winstanely and her husband, Ed, launched PIY earlier this year after relentless experimentation making pizzas at home. They estimate making more than 1,500 pizzas at home to find the right mix of ingredients, temperature and equipment.
They left no detail unexplored. Using a laser temperature reader to gauge how hot a pizza is when it comes out of the oven, Ed Winstanley determined that 530 to 580 degrees is the “sweet spot” for making the perfect pizza. Winstanely previously worked in a pizzeria and his brother owns an Italian restaurant in Irvington, N.Y.
The Winstanleys live in Ridgefield and work out of a commercial kitchen in Newtown. PIY, pronounced P-I-Y, currently offers delivery to Ridgefield, Redding, Bethel, Newtown and parts of Danbury. They prepare the ingredients at the kitchen and make deliveries on Thursday. Customers must preorder at the business’s website: www.pizzapiy.com.
A one-time purchase of a steel deck and peel are required to make the 14-inch pizzas at home. The deck maintains high temperature on the pizza and the peel makes it easy to maneuver the pizza on the deck. Step-by-step instructions, both written and video, are included.
“Everything we teach is how you make a real pizza in a pizzeria,” Ed Winstanley said. “There are 100 different opinions out there, but I find this is very clean and easy to do it. It gets faster and faster the more you do it.”
The process starts by preheating the oven with the deck in it to 535 degrees. Ovens that top out at 500 degrees work, as well, the Winstanleys said. Customers shape and stretch the dough, then place it on a precut circle of parchment paper on the peel. Sauce, cheese and other toppings are added before placing it in the oven with the peel. Once in the oven, the pizza cooks in about seven minutes.
Ed Winstanley said the process of creating the pizza makes for quality family time with all members being able to contribute.
“Have the kids put the cell phones down and spend some time together,” he said.
The delivery includes ingredients for one cheese pizza and one weekly specialty pizza, such as goat cheese and arugula salad, or the Breakfast PIY that includes pancetta, mushrooms and an egg.
“Pizzerias have been doing the same thing for 50 years — right or wrong — and they aren’t very adventurous and stay with the tried and true,” Ed Winstanley said. “We’re offering a cleaner, healthier, more adventurous pizza. We’re challenging people to try something new. We worked hard to come up with these combinations.”
The Winstanleys, who also own an IT recruiting firm, have already entrenched PIY into the Ridgefield business community by holding fundraisers for local nonprofits. They also started Pizza It Forward, a networking program by which they deliver a pizza to a local business each week. The business that receives the pizza nominates the next recipient.
“It’s a little thing, but it builds relationships and it’s fun,” Ed Winstanley said.
Seasonally, PIY gets its vegetables from The Hickories, an organic farm in Ridgefield.
“PIY is an ingenious creation to enjoy traditional pizza right in the comfort of your own home,” she said. “With the addition of their fresh delivery service, PIY has created a healthy, fun family activity for what could be a mundane task some evenings. The taste is amazing and their excitement and engagement of the community is contagious.”
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