Monday, January 30, 2017

From Wall Street to Main Street -- How This Pizzeria Owner is Fulfilling His Dream in New Jersey

Brooklyn’s Anthony Saporito knew opening a pizzeria was no easy task. So he left his Wall Street job and immersed himself in the field to gain hands-on experience to fulfill his dream.



Wall of Fam - interior of Urban Fire
By Milvian Prieto

Anthony Saporito (left) and Chip Ohlsson
While working a 9-to-5 at the New York Stock Exchange paid the bills, Anthony Saporito was looking to break out of the office job routine and be fulfilled. He wanted more. Through a mutual friend, he met Chip Ohlsson, an owner of Five Guys restaurants. As they begin to chat, they realized they both owned wood-fired ovens in their backyard and shared a mutual love for Neapolitan style pizza. It was at that moment he knew he needed to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening his own authentic pizzeria, Urban Fire.

“Going to college for finance was something I did to find a job,” said Saporito. “But it was never something that was going to drive me to the success I envisioned. Urban Fire does that for me.”

Saporito knew it was going to take time. He quit his Wall Street job and began knocking door-to-door to various pizzerias, searching for that one opportunity that would lead him to gain hands-on experience in the business. While many pizzerias shut him down and declined to give him a chance, Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, welcomed him with open arms. Saporito did everything from prepping the dough to chopping and grating the ingredients and cooking in the wood-fired oven.

Some of Urban Fire's pizzas and rice balls
After two years of working there, Saporito felt it was time to spread his wings and take the next step. Now partners, he and Ohlsson gathered to brainstorm menu items that were true to their Italian heritage but had a modern twist. With months of preparation, Urban Fire was born in 2014 with a “build your own” concept, allowing customers to create their own pizza masterpieces. Creating a pizza at Urban Fire is easy. Customers simply select a base -- margherita, tomato pie, bianco or verde -- and choose from over 30 of the freshest toppings.

“We give them that option to explore and be creative,” said Saporito. “We have signature pies if they want us to help but the choice is always theirs.”

Margherita in the oven
Although the concept of Urban Fire is fast-casual, the interior is cozy and homey. Precisely decorated on the indoor brick wall, a “Wall of Fam” showcases photos dating back to older generations from the Saporito and Ohlsson family. It’s a part of the restaurant that tells a story through food and family. It felt so much like home that the local middle school Italian teacher -- who was born in Italy -- held class in the restaurant because of the nostalgia it brought her.

“It’s a part of the restaurant we are very proud of,” said Saporito. “I think it’s true for many people that most of our fond memories have to do with getting together with family and the food we enjoy. We encourage our guests to bring in some of their family photos and we will gladly find a frame for it and add it to the wall. It’s a great way to really get to know your community.”




Visit Urban Fire at 6 Main Street, Madison, N.J.
Must Haves: The Rocket Specialty Pizza, Pallini Rice Balls, Porchetta Panino