Saturday, June 5, 2010


Some highlights from this weekend:

Lots of cute babies at the restaurant.

No A/C in 90 degree weather.

25 customers asking if they could get "just a slice" of pizza....hehe - what will we do with the rest?

A complaining male customer with no shoes on. Is it time to put "No shoes - no service" sign?

Running out of pizza dough on Saturday. Honestly, this one was a blessing of sorts - it made people order panuozzi (sandwiches) which are great but nobody orders them otherwise - everyone always wants pizza. So, this way they had something they otherwise would not have.

A female customer hated one of the wines we had. We love the wine, and customers mostly love it too, but it's not for everybody, I understand. She took few sips and actually returned it to me. And then another customer, in line behind her asked me not to throw it out cuz he'll drink it....Too funny.

A customer leaving a bigger tip than their meal was. We love you mister III.

An amazing number of Italians coming to the restaurant. Who knew there were so many people from Italy in Arlington?

Discovering how much better arancini are when wrapped in prosciutto.

Realizing that the World Cup is coming up and we still don't have a TV. Enzo demands a huge projector on the wall so that he could watch the games while making pizzas.

Most of all, all our patient and gracious customers who withstand the heat, order mistakes, and all the quirks due to the recent opening.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gotta love the digital age.

It amazes me how much the times have changed. It used to take months, even years for a restaurant to be noticed and for the word to get around. Nowadays, we don't have to wait till people tell each other about us, we get new customers almost instantly, due to positive reviews on-line. I will even go as far as to say that every new customer that comes into our pizzeria has come because they read something about us on the Internet. And I don't count the folks that came to the pizza cart before as new customers. We became an over-night sensation of some sort, and it is scary and amazing. All it takes is a google search and you will know what was happening in the restaurant just 10 minutes ago.


Yesterday we had a visit from Joe Epstein, a man who "fearlessly sifts through crap every day to uncover your city's finest new food, drinks, gear, travel, and entertainment".

He made this little video that we just love.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


We wanted to thank everybody for coming and enjoying our pizza. We felt so lucky and fortunate that you guys came to the restaurant last couple of days. It is a scary thing to open a restaurant and you guys give us confidence that everything will be alright.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cured meats

Cured meat, such as prosciutto, bresaola, salami, etc. make a fine topping on a Neapolitan pizza. We have thought long and hard about whether to go domestic or Italian on this one, until we tried La Quercia prosciutto. Made from grain-fed antibiotic free pork, with no nitrates or artificial anything, it is the best prosciutto we had, here or in Italy. It won even side-by-side tasting with Prosciutto di Parma. Any skepticism we had about American cured meats was gone. Those guys do great work and we're proud to sell their product.


Zagat, the famous restaurant reviewer, came to interview us the other day and they ran a nice little post about us today:

Thursday, May 20, 2010


We found a lovely local gelato making business called Dolci Gelati. The gelato maker, Gianluigi, is also from the Naples area, just like Enzo. He brought us samples today and we were won over! The gelato is the best we've could find in the US. I especially liked the "Baci" flavor. Gianluigi is going to be bringing us 12 different flavors on a regular basis and we're excited to share them with you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Yesterday with met with the most amazing wine distributor. It's a local family business called Downey Selections run by two siblings and their mom. They import just the right wines from the Campania region, where Naples is located. Wines that are rare to find in the US, but commonly drunk in Naples. They travelled to Campania personally to see the wineries and get to know the makers. Most wineries are small and family-owned.

PUPATELLA is not going to have a huge wine selection, rather, we'd like to have few wines that are authentic to Campania, and most importantly go well with pizza. No, most importantly, very tasty wines :-) We purposely will not have commonly liked wines like merlots, cabernets, pinot grigios, etc. because we want you guys to try something rare that perhaps otherwise you would not.
Also, we are planning to have weekly "wine specials", just like we'll have weekly pizza specials, where we'll bring in some unusual wines for you to try.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We're going to be open at the end of next week!! Most likely.

I don't know what day yet, though. We're having our final inspection beginning of next week, wish us well! We'll be open as soon as we get cleared with the county. Meanwhile, here are some new pictures for you. The place looks nice, doesn't it? And those pizza boxes...:-)))

Monday, May 3, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Might as well post some pictures

Since the Youtube video is not very high in resolution, I figured we should post some pictures so that you could see better how great the pizzas looked.  And yes, they tasted as good as they looked :-)  

Making first pizzas today!

EXCITING!  They were great.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We're getting there!

Last week Enzo's dad came here from Italy to help us finish the construction.  There is still a lot do to: finish the tiles, painting, putting wallpaper, assembling the furniture, setting up the kitchen.  We're trying to do a lot of it ourselves because commercial construction is very expensive.  Just painting the walls would cost us 5 thousand dollars.  
In general, this construction cost us much more than we thought it would.  I guess since we're first time restauranteurs, we had no idea how difficult and expensive some things (well, all things really) would be. We always thought that and now we made sure it's true - things seem much easier until you actually try to do them. 

Take, for example making pizza dough.  Neapolitan pizza dough is very simple, it only has 4 ingredients - flour, yeast, salt and water.  However, it took Enzo 3 years of almost everyday practice at home and working in 2 pizzerias (one in Naples and one here in Arlington) to get it right.  Why?  Because unless you know exactly what you are doing and when to change proportions of the 4 ingredients, your dough will not be consistent.  If the wether is cold, the yeast needs more time to ferment, if the weather is hot and humid, then the dough will be ready much faster.  If you wait to make pizzas past the point of proofing (that's where the dough is perfect) then your dough will be impossible to shape into pizza disks because it will rip.   The shaping itself is important also - there is s special "slapping" technique that is rather difficult to do unless you've learned from a professional pizzaiolo and practiced many months. It must be done by hand, no machines or rolling pins, otherwise it will pop the yeast bubbles and the crust will be flat. I will try to post a video later to show you what I mean. 

Anyway, back to the construction.  Since we rented a space that was a restaurant previously, we thought that it would not cost us so much time and money to re-make it into our pizzeria.  Of course, we were naive.  We thought it would cost us $50,000 and it ends up costing us more than $100,000.   Once the construction crew got to work we discovered that the space was in a bad shape.  The walls were rotten, termite damage everywhere. My guess is that they were evicted in a hurry due to non-payment of rent and were very angry about it.  How do I know the were angry? They destroyed everything - cut the lines to furnace and AC, broke sinks, broke the ceiling, even the light bulbs! Plus, on top of everything they did not pay their gas, electric and trash bills for months and when we called to set up service we had to pay huge deposits (I mean  many thousands of dollars) in order to correct the credit problem.

OK, enough wining already.  Now to the cool stuff:  our beautiful oven is installed and working fine! We can't make pizzas in it just yet - it has to be seasoned for 1 week.  Seasoning means that every day for one week we have to make small fires in the oven until the interior turns black. We've been doping it since Friday last week and it's almost black, so we're making a first pizza real soon! Pictures coming of course. 

We promise we'll blog more.  Many people have told us that they wished that the blog had more updates. The reason there's been few updates is that it's difficult with having the baby around.  He's not going to daycare yet and will not be until the restaurant is open.  But since people care so much, we'll try to blog more.  
Here is little Vincent next to the oven.  We'll unwrap the oven soon to show you how beautiful it really is.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Oven is HERE!

Our baby is here!  Enzo had to learn how to operate a forklift in order to get that baby into the restaurant.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Washington Business Journal wrote about us!

I think you need a subscription to read the whole thing, though.


HERE SHE IS!  The oven is all built and has boarded the ship as of today.  This picture was taken in Italy just before it was taken by the freight company. It will take about 3-4 weeks for it to get here.  We can't hardly wait.  Meanwhile, the work at the restaurant is going full speed.  Thank you Alex and Julio for doing such great job.  

Thursday, February 11, 2010


How amazing are these glowing 3-form panels? Made from recycled resin and backlit by LED lights, they are absolutely stunning.  3form makes all kinds of installations from this material. We are ordering several large (4x4 feet) wall light fixtures for the restaurant, similar to these. 

They also make sheets with real dried flowers or bamboo sealed inside and we're ordering some of them also.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


So, I went to the county inspection  office yesterday to see what they think about our construction plans.  Turns out, it is a big deal to have an Italian wood-fired oven installed.  They want me to pay $4,500 to have it inspected by UL (Underwriters Labs).  Ouch!  That oven ends up costing us about $15,000 without installation.  It's a lot, but we don't want to buy any other one, because Forno Napoletano ovens bake absolutely the best pizzas, even in Naples. They have a special low-dome construction and excellent heat insulation. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Today we met with the architect and ordered our oven.  Our oven manufacturer hired an artist in Naples to re-create our logo on the outside of the oven.  The oven itself will be bright red. Since the oven is giant, we will need to take out the entire front of the restaurant to get it in with a forklift. And then re-build it.  Can you imagine! Oh, and the sign is up!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Trip to NAPLES - SEPTEMBER 2009 - part 4: Pizzeria Dal Presidente

This pizzeria is supposed to be one of the best. They claim it's Bill Clinton's favorite place in Naples, that's where it got it's name from.  Enzo apprenticed there few years back.  He was lucky to get that experience -  they taught him  a lot about the dough making process, as well as showed him how to make stuffed rice balls (arancini or palle di riso).  I got pizza with prociutto, arugula and parmesan, and Enzo got a Margherita con Filetti (fresh cherry tomatoes instead of sauce).  The pizza was good.  Not transcending.  I can't say anything bad about it, but something was out of balance.  The crust was just a tad too thick and too dry.  The toppings were great.  The staff - friendly.  They let me take some videos to "mettere langoppo Youtube" (put on Youtube).  It is fascinating how fast they hand-stretch those pizzas and how elegant their movements are.  The videos are on Youtube.

Trip to NAPLES - SEPTEMBER 2009 - part 3: Pizzeria Da Michele

Pizeria Da Michele is considered the best in Naples and we have to agree with that.  Small, hole-in-the-wall space that has been serving the same pizzas for 140 years.  The place is extremely popular with locals, and even more so with tourists.  They told me they make 500 pizzas a day.  Sometimes there are so many people in line that we'd rather walk away.  There are only 2 pizzas on the menu - Margherita (tomato sauce, basil, fior di latte) and Marinara (tomato sauce and some herbs, no cheese) .  Pizzas cost about 5 euros.  Only 2 options, but so amazingly good.  Perfect even.  I love love love this pizza.  I know Naples is supposed to be the best place to get pizza, but even there it is evident that making a perfect Neapolitan pizza is not an easy process.  In many places it is just alright, in many places it's bad, and only few places make it on point.  



Margherita with extra cheese

Leopard charring 

Trip to NAPLES - SEPTEMBER 2009 - part 2 FOOD CARTS

 I never finished the story about our trip to Naples in September.  Since we have a food cart business ourselves,  we are always excited when we find them in other parts of the would. In Naples, there are quite a few cute lemon and orange-shaped ones that sell granitas (Italian fruit ice), juices and waffles. We saw this one on our way from Naples to Positano.  In downtown, there are a lot of kiosks, that serve a whole variety of things - fresh coffee, pastries, etc.

And here is our very own Pupatella

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Pupatella is opening a restaurant.  And we’re going to blog about it!  The address is 5104 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington.  It is going to be a lot of work to turn it into a Neapolitan pizzeria, though. Even though it used to be a restaurant, previous tenants took everything (even the light bulbs and the air-conditioner!) and we have to basically build a pizzeria from an empty shell. While it is going to be a lot of work, we’re excited - having nothing there means that we’ll get to make the space exactly how we want it.  


Step 1. Order a wood-burning pizza oven from Naples.  Marco Parente is our guy in Naples.  They have this oven shop, called Forno Napoletano.  http://forno-napoletano.itThe ovens are built from local bricks and clay by Neapolitan artisans.  We personally tasted pizzas made in one of those ovens and they were the best!  It was in this pizzeria called Da Salvo, just outside of Naples. The pizzeria was great by the way, the best in the Naples area.  Not only they had the best-tasting pizzas, they also had amazing appetizers and fried calzones.  I must show you some pictures. Pizza Margherita:

Fried Calzone

The oven:

The pizzaiolo (right):