1206 Orange Avenue, Coronado
“It’s a huge expense financially and environmentally it’s a disaster, but nine out of 10 people prefer it,” says David Spatafore, owner of two Village Pizzerias in Coronado.
The “it” he is referring to, is the decision to make all the pizzas using only water that he’s had shipped from New York, something he’s been doing shortly after opening the first pizzeria on Orange Avenue in 2002.
“The whole thing started when I was talking with the kitchen manager and two other employees about the pizza, bialys and bagels from New York,” says Spatafore, a lifelong resident of Coronado. “They said the baked goods were better there because of the water.”
In order to — pardon the pun — test the waters, Spatafore asked an employee with relatives in New York to send out some water from the Big Apple for a taste test.
“We did a blind taste test and nine out of 10 people picked the pizza made with New York water,” Spatafore says. “I don’t know how to explain the difference. Maybe it had an earthier crust, with more crunch.”
In an effort to make more dough, Spatafore started having gallons of water shipped to him from New York.
Since the opening of the second Village Pizzeria in Ferry Landing in 2007, Spatafore estimates he purchases more than 3,000 gallons of New York City water per year. It breaks down to about 48 gallons a week during the slower months and up to 90 gallons a week during the peak summer season.
“The shipping is quite a nightmare and is ridiculously expensive,” Spatafore admits “We’ve arranged for the water to be uploaded from New York to Ontario by train for storage, and we receive shipments as needed.”
Whether its the water or the real estate, Village Pizzeria’s pies aren’t cheap. Prices range from $9.99 10-inch cheese pizza up to $49.99 for a 28-inch pie with multiple ingredients.
But, to paraphrase Cervantes, the proof of the pizza may be in the eating.
Pizza is a subjective thing, but Village Pizzeria does have a nicely crispy crust that goes especially well with their roasted veggie pizza called The Hippie, and the New Yorker, a delicious blend of salami, sausage, red pepper and garlic.
The dough is also used to great effect in the garlic knots and the Zeppoli, which is deep-fried pieces of dough covered with powdered sugar and served with caramel and chocolate sauces for dipping.
Because Coronado gets a decent chunk of San Diego’s tourist dollar, it could be argued that Spatafore is making the pizzas better than is necessary.
Of course, make that argument to Spatafore at your own risk.
“The biggest insult anyone could make to me is to call it a tourist trap,” he says. “There are tourists here, but they’re the whipped cream of Coronado. You can’t build a business on them alone.”