Phillip Bruno knows a thing or two about pizzas. Not only has he been making them for 35 years, he’s also earned the title ‘Master Pizzaiolo’.
The owner of Scoozi, a Sicilian pizza restaurant in Ascot Vale, Melbourne told BusinessesForSale.com about staying true to a centuries-old tradition, the secrets of his success, his marketing methods and his advice for aspiring pizzeria owners.
Phillip Bruno is Australasian president of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN), which preserves the traditional Neapolitan way of cooking pizzas – for many the most authentic method.
Phillip is also the owner of Scoozi, a popular pizzeria in Ascot Vale, Melbourne. We talked to him about his passion for pizza and sought his advice for aspiring pizza masters.
Tell us about your pizza restaurant, Phillip
Phillip Bruno: We’ve owned the restaurant for nine years, but it took about a year and a half before we were happy with the place; it was in such poor condition when we bought it. I built my own pizza oven with tiles brought over from Italy.
I’ve been cooking pizzas for 35 years, so I wanted to be able to cook it the way I wanted. Sometimes the most simple dish can be the most complicated to make.
We make pizza precisely the way it was made 300 years ago – the recipe is listed with UNESCO.
What niche do you occupy in the market?
PB: We’re definitely at the premium end of the market. We source the best ingredients we can find, locally and overseas.
Take tomatoes, for example, we only use tomatoes that are DOP-accredited by the Italian government for quality. We source fresh produce locally, like basil and buffalo mozzarella.
What kind of customers do you tend to attract?
PB: We have a very broad range. People visit from all over the world because I travel extensively with the APN.
The majority of our customers – I would say around 40% – are local. At the weekend, people come from all over Melbourne looking for a good pizza.
What’s the secret of your success?
PB: We put our heart and soul into it. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’re successful.
At the end of the day, it’s not about the money; it’s about doing what you love.
Every day I try and find at least three things I can make better – I’m disappointed if I don’t manage it!
I also try and give my customers the best experience I can; they’re the ones working hard all week, and they choose to spend their money with us. I don’t want them to walk away having had a bad experience.
I’m not above charging higher prices for something special. It might be more expensive, but my customers know it’s worth it.
What kind of marketing do you do?
PB: We’ve been using Uber Eats for a while, but I’m not a fan of delivered pizza. Our pizza is best straight out of the oven. The closer to the oven you eat it, the better.
Social media marketing has been good for us, and we’ve found that newspaper articles help. We’ve been nominated as the best pizza in Melbourne and The Age has featured us in their top 10 pizza restaurants.
But it’s tough to get these kinds of articles – using social media is more consistent.
What are the toughest challenges in this trade ?
PB: Every day there’s some kind of challenge! In this business, you walk in and something’s broken, or a staff member’s not coming in. You get used to dealing with these problems.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a pizza restaurant ?
PB: Firstly, it helps to have
Lastly, it comes down to gut instinct. Once you’ve made a name for yourself you can basically do whatever you want, but it comes down to what feels right for you – that’s what makes the difference.
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