A recent trip to Italy has me thinking quite a bit about the role pizza plays in our society, from the busy streets of Rome to the quiet roads of Fargo, North Dakota. Simply put, pizza is everywhere, which is great news for all of us in the pizza industry.
In the United States, both chains and independents are booming, and in Italy, pizza remains a staple food with at least three options to choose from on almost every city block in Rome.
However, despite the popularity of pizza in both countries, the holistic approach per country to this amazing food is quite different. This was highlighted by an article I read on my return trip from Rome.
The article from Automotive News details Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ new technology allowing drivers to order a Domino’s pizza through the touchscreen in their car. What a world we live in. Domino’s has been at the forefront of merging technology with pizza, so I was not surprised to see them pushing the boundaries even further.
However, I was surprised by the juxtaposition of this article with every pizza-eating experience I had (and there were plenty) while in Italy. Technology was not at the forefront of any of these experiences. In fact, in many restaurants we visited, you could only pay with cash and correct change was greatly appreciated.
Instead of a technological experience, ordering a pizza or slice in Italy was all about the sensory experience. Display cases lined with pizza al taglio stimulated my visual and aroma senses. I didn’t need to look at a back-lit and computer-generated menu board to know what type of pizza to order. I just looked at the case and ordered. In these restaurants and shops, you weren’t thinking about pizza as a matter of convenience or technology. You were simply taking in the sights and aromas and basing your decision on these fundamental elements.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, and I fully recognize the differences between the Italian and American consumer. However, I think each country’s pizza makers could learn from one another about when to press the gas a bit on technology, and when to pump the breaks.