The Origins of a name… and some surprises!

So why Za Pi?  Well, the “Za” part is pretty simple… It’s really become the ubiquitous phrase shorthand for pizza.  Some may argue that “za” is strictly an East Coast/New York concept, but the term has carried far from New York thanks to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).

Those ridiculously cool (and now making a comeback in toys supposedly) green ninjas with a half shell were one of the toy/cartoon crazes of my generation.  And while I can’t find an exact episode where Michaelangelo’s boldly states wanting some “za”, the image of me running around the house with nunchucks asking my parents if we could have “Za” for dinner was inspired by one of those episodes.

So now that we have half the name, why Pi (or 3.14)?  This really symbolizes quite a few things…

1.  It expresses the geek in me, as well as my teammates.  The three of us that are pursuing this journey together all met in high school (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) where we were endlessly teased by other schools at sporting events.  (Seriously, some schools were creative enough to dress up as a TI-85 calculator to “insult” us…)

2.  It’s expresses our approach to making great quality Neapolitan pizza.  We research the topic endlessly, run test trials on dough formulas, sauces, flavor combinations, heat temps, etc.  We firmly believe there’s a “scientific” approach to making great pizza and we want to find it to make it part of our culture.

3.  It’s Pie!  Pizza Pie!  Pizza Pi!  Za Pi!  It’za Pi! (Say that last one with the ridiculous Italian accent you know you have in you).  Za Pi… flows pretty well, right?

So after much discussion and playing around with 30 some potential names and hearing feedback from family, we settled on Za Pi for our mobile business.

Before we close out for the day, two things:

1.  We did our first set of sauce tests last night… a blind taste test for six key people to determine favorite sauce flavors to serve as the base of all our tomato based pies.  Here’s the five sauces we tested with some simple Italian bread.  Image

Each person was asked to provide 3 points to their first choice, 2 points to their 2nd, and 1 point to their third choice (assuming they had three they liked enough to rank).  Part of this was to determine whether San Marzanos or DOP based tomato sauces were really worth the extra cash for the pizza.  Guess what we found out:


The 6 in 1 tomato sauce (B) seems to have faired the best out of the taste testers, with the Duomo crushed tomatoes from California (C) in a far second choice.  While the Cento San Marzanos (E) did got some votes, the importaed Flora San Marzano DOPs (D) was left out in the cold in terms of flavor and texture and received no votes at all (not even a third place!).  Make me wonder if pursuing Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) is worth it for what we’re trying to do… But that’s a post for another time.

2.  Here’s a look at where we hope to take Za Pi’s direction.Image

Our first trial of a BBQ pork with mango pizza.  It was tasty, but will need some refinement.  Looking forward to making some more of the “non-traditional” pizzas I have in mind as we move forward in our testing phase of what to bring to you at the market!


12 thoughts on “The Origins of a name… and some surprises!

    • Thanks for the compliment, Jeff! I’ve been applying to a few markets (Green City, Logan Square, Downer’s Grove, and Wheaton soon) to see what options may pop up. For initial results, definitely not easy to get into since serving pizzas would be considered a vendor so they have very few spaces it seems. Keeping my fingers crossed and casting a wide net! Any advice on markets to check out?

      • Last year was our first year and we were going to apply at Logan Square, but there were so many hoops and hassles with the city we didn’t. I heard downers grove was a really good market to be at. I also heard the one on Printers Row it he city was very good. Are you it he North suburbs?

    • Actually in the Southwest burbs, but since I spent 10+ years living in the city, wanted an excuse to get back to it on weekends and be at the farmer’s markets I use to visit. Pizza this spring and summer eh? Now you’ve got me curious! Care to share? (Or private message if you don’t want to share publicly on a blog?)

      • Nice, I lived in Orland and the south burbs for a long time. It’s nice to meet a fellow pizza fanatic out here. We ordered a wood fired oven on a trailer and want to do private catering.

      • Yep, our first. I have a 2stone that I was using and have worked on a couple WFO but not much. How are you cooking your pizza?

      • Right now, just the baking steel at home. When we get to a farmer’s market, we’re planning on going with FGM (Four Grand Mere) oven. Where did you order your oven/trailer from? We’re in the process of looking at trailer and how to best mount our oven!

      • Checked out the two stone ovens, and wasn’t sure if they’d be good for a trailer application. Would’ve loved to have one at home, but figured I’d stick with the steel for now. We should get together and do some pizza (and pasta it seems) sometime!

      • We should absolutely get together sometime! I was going to try your recommendation at Parker’s today but got snowed out. Soon though.

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