Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pizza Cones Are Walk-Around Wonderful

I had my doubts about pizza cones. Doesn’t sound right. Cones are for ice cream, right? Double dip chocolate for me, or maybe, if I’m feeling really adventurous, pistachio. But cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni? That’s not an adventure, it’s a perilous food quest to uncharted territory. It’s culinary chaos. It’s whacked.

Until you try one. Then it’s bliss in your hand. It’s walk-around wonderful! It’s vertical pizza deliciousness. I sampled some of these pizza hybrids a couple of months ago in the PMQ Pizza Test Kitchen and I was overcome with sensory input resembling the first time I tried a Cuban cigar: “This is gooood sh… I mean stuff,” I thought.

Ray Clapp opened Coneizza (www.coneizza.com) three months ago in Laguna Hills, California, about halfway between LA and San Diego. He says the response from anyone who tries one of his pizza cones is immediate and definitive: Sir, may I have another? “Their reaction has been ‘this is absolutely fabulous,’” says the transplanted Wisconsin native, who moved to the sunny Left Coast from the Badger State in the 1980s. Despite maintaining his allegiance to the Packers, Clapp has cheerfully adopted Southern Callie and its quirky idiosyncrasies, but pizza cones, he insists, are no fad. “They’re perfect food for any location where people are looking for something tasty and convenient,” he explains. “This is just an easy, fun way to eat pizza. It’s pizza shaped differently, with real pizza crust, the same sauce, cheese and fresh, nutritious toppings.”

With the help of his wife and kids, Clapp, a former executive with Hyatt’s food division, launched Coneizza in a mall without the greatest foot traffic. He sees the current site as a test kitchen for the pizza cone experiment. So far, his customers have unanimously endorsed his results in the first West Coast restaurant where you can experience pizza cones. His top seller is the “Americana,” meat nirvana stuffed with Pepperoni, sausage and meatballs. The “Garden Gnome” features olives, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and Mediterranean spices. The “Hawaiian” and “Downsouth” cones geographically balance Clapp’s conical collection. He also invites customers to erect their own cones and offers traditional horizontal pizza and salads at Coneizza. The key ingredient that sets Coneizza apart, adds Klapp, is health consciousness. “What makes us unique is that we use healthier-choice meats like turkey bacon and our rich pizza sauce is made with organic tomato paste.”

Recently PMQ.com posted a story (http://www.pmq.com/August-2015/New-Jersey-entrepreneurs-offer-pizza-cones-after-buying-Italian-franchise/) on some New Jersey entrepreneurs running a Kono (the Italian company that pioneered pizza cones) franchise. The family is trucking pizza cones to big-attendance events around South Jersey and Philadelphia. There seems to be a worldwide craving for pizza that’s not only carry-out—but carry-with-you. Clapp precisely points out the packing power of munchable pizza projectiles in language any potential purveyor, or consumer, would appreciate: “People enjoy pizza cones because they taste great just like pizza, they’re easy and fun to eat, they’re not messy and they’re perfect for any grab-and-go environment like a mall.”

I’m sold, Ray. Who needs funnel cakes dusting your clothes and kisser when you can stuff your face with pizza cones at the fair? Unlike the unholy hot-dog-stuffed pizza crust, pizza cones are an evolutionary step on the pizza progress timeline that deserves to spiral upward and onward. They taste great and you can bite off the end to suck out the oozing goodness, just like that double dip of chocolate. They don’t melt, they just get cold, and we all know extensive clinical trials have proven cold pizza is an even better hangover remedy than cold fries. Heck, the Leaning Tower of Smooshed Cheese and Tomato Sauce is way more handy than an olive-spraying flat pizza slice to wave tauntingly in the face of your rivals when watching football on TV. Which is great, as long as you’re prepared for the equally likely scenario that your toddler will use one of them like a large paint brush to smear said TV or laptop screen.

I say: Small price to pay for one of mankind’s greatest, most portable and aesthetically awesome culinary inventions. The era of the pizza cone has begun.








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