HomePizzaPalo Mesa Pizza brings Neapolitan, Roman, conventional pies to California's Central Coast

Palo Mesa Pizza brings Neapolitan, Roman, conventional pies to California’s Central Coast


Palo Mesa Pizza fuels the pizza wants of California’s Central Coast. The five-unit model presents conventional pizza, but additionally Neapolitan and Roman-style.

Michael Stevens runs a collection of pizzerias in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it area of California. The award-winning pizzaiolo studied the culinary arts in Michigan earlier than launching Palo Mesa Pizza in 2007. With 34 years within the restaurant enterprise, Stevens has carried out all of it, from washing dishes to delivering pizzas and at last proudly owning his personal eating places. It is the American dream – and Stevens would not have it another method.


Palo Mesa Pizza opened in Arroyo Grande 16 years in the past, and Stevens has since opened 4 extra eating places in San Luis Obispo County. He did not begin out in pizza; moderately he reduce his enamel on high-quality eating after graduating culinary college. “I like the specifics of it, I like the creativity of it, however I wasn’t into the frou frou sort state of affairs,” he mentioned.

He labored for each large chains and independents earlier than assembly his spouse, Kelly, and the pair honeymooned in California and beloved the realm. They moved to the Central Coast of California in 2006, and Stevens started to chef at an upscale barbecue restaurant whereas Kelly served as a nurse. Only a yr later, their first pizzeria opened with a accomplice whereas Stevens nonetheless cheffed on the upscale steakhouse.

In 2008, they took over the steakhouse and 6 months later took over full management of Palo Mesa Pizza.

“I ate pizza throughout this city and it was horrible,” Stevens mentioned. “I mentioned ‘you already know what? There must be a pizzeria right here.’ I do know pizza pretty nicely.”

Regardless of a failing economic system in 2008-2009, Stevens opened his second restaurant in a shopping mall simply three to 4 miles from their first restaurant. “We reside on the Central Coast, he mentioned. “We’re sort of secluded slightly bit from the remainder of the world. When different folks had been going out of enterprise, we had been going into enterprise. … Had been sort of searching for extra publicity and extra foot site visitors. Issues had been vacating, and that is a less expensive time to get in.”

A 3rd pizzeria adopted in San Luis Obispo. In the meantime, Stevens received a number of competitors awards for his pizza and even went to Italy to compete.


Stevens’ first three pizzerias targeted on Americanized Midwest pizza, however it was whereas he was in Italy that he fell in love with Neapolitan pizza and “the simplicity of crushed tomatoes straight from the can that is brisker than any tomato that you would be able to get in a retailer, and the simplicity of the recent mozzarella and the basil and the ocean salt.”

When he can house from Italy, he purchased a trailer to make Neapolitan pizza, and it has an oven that may bake as much as 120 pizzas an hour. His fourth pizzeria was constructed within the village of Arroyo Grande and sells Neapolitan pizza and it seems to be prefer it got here out of Italy with simply 600 sq. toes and a wood-fired oven.

“Now we make California Neapolitan pizza,” Stevens mentioned.

The pandemic hit and a close-by mall requested Stevens to open a unit, however this time he opted for Roman model. “Principally it is turnkey,” he mentioned. “We simply needed to make the pizza.”

Now, Stevens has 5 models – two traditional-style pizzerias, a Neapolitan place and a Roman-style pizzeria. “I feel it is a neighborhood state of affairs,” Stevens mentioned. “I care for the individuals who care for us. I took me a very long time to know that I do not pay my staff – the neighborhood does. It is actually buyer pushed. It is actually neighborhood oriented.”

The model has been head-hunted by a developer to open one other location in San Luis Obispo in an open-air market that is being constructed proper now and might be firm’s sixth retailer. A couple of years in the past, a franchise lawyer reached out to Stevens with the concept of franchising, however Stevens mentioned he thinks the model is completed with six areas. He desires to spend extra time along with his familt.

In home

A lot is completed in-house, from grinding sausage and pickling recent jalapenos to brining rooster and making ranch dressing.

The latest pizzeria underneath building could have a plot of land the place Stevens will be capable of develop produce for the pizzerias. “Not solely will we make our personal stuff, however we’ll additionally be capable of develop our personal greens,” Stevens mentioned. “I’d say there’s nothing that we do not make. We do not even purchase frozen bacon. We cook dinner breakfast bacon, chop it up and put it on our pizzas.”

Meatballs are made in home and whereas Palo Mesa would not make its personal pasta, the model makes lasagna recent. Why is doing a lot in-house so essential?

“What number of pizzerias are there on the earth?” Stevens requested. “I feel that we differentiate ourselves from different pizzerias after we’re doing it ourselves. I’d say 90% of pizzerias in my neighborhood use the identical sausage or use the identical pepperoni or use the identical hamburger or bacon. So what’s setting them aside apart from service? I’d say that we’re in a position to create a product that no one else on the Central Coast can create, or no one else on the earth can create, for that matter.

“There isn’t any higher feeling than standing in one in every of your personal institutions and getting the suggestions that you simply get and the love that you simply really feel for what you do and the fervour that you simply put in it.”

Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the location editor for PizzaMarketplace.com and QSRweb.com. She has greater than 20 years’ expertise masking meals, folks and locations.
An award-winning print journalist, Mandy brings greater than 20 years’ expertise to Networld Media Group. She has spent almost twenty years masking the pizza business, from impartial pizzerias to multi-unit chains and each dimension enterprise in between. Mandy has been featured on the Meals Community and has received quite a few awards for her protection of the restaurant business. She has an insatiable urge for food for studying, and may let you know the place to search out the most effective slices within the nation after spending 15 years touring and consuming pizza for a residing. 




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