After a months-long test, Sbarro rolled out its newly reformulated Neapolitan-style pizza nationwide Tuesday, fueled by a promotion that will take two vintage pizza trucks to 25 cities across the country where they will hand out slices for free.
The new thin-crust pizza had been part of a highly publicized test at 10 Sbarro locations that also explored a variety of new menu items, plus a new service style and updated décor.
Sbarro’s chief executive Jim Greco said the Neapolitan-style pizza, which is prepared in wood-fired ovens, was enthusiastically embraced by customers “by a wide margin.”
The new recipe, said Sbarro’s president Anthony Missano, contains higher quality ingredients than the chain’s previous pies. The new pizza is made with whole milk mozzarella, whole peeled tomatoes and hand rolled dough. The recipe also calls for Pecorino Romano cheese and a simpler tomato sauce flavored with fewer spices.
While ingredients are higher quality, Greco said the price will remain the same. The Italian quick-service chain’s average check is about $8.20, Missano said.
A variety of toppings will be available at all stores, including cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach and tomato. However, several specialty pies — a Hawaiian pie, for example — also will be featured in different locales.
The new pizza will be promoted throughout the month of October — National Pizza Month — with two 1949 vintage International pizza trucks that were restored for the event. One truck will begin its pizza odyssey in New York City’s Times Square and cover the eastern half of the country, while a second truck will embark from Los Angels and cover the western half. The trucks both contain wood-fired ovens similar to those found in the 10 test units.
“They will allow folks to sample the new recipe for free,” Greco said.
In the meantime, the 1,013-unit brand will continue its migration toward becoming a fast-casual chain, its executives say. The company will continue to test new pasta dishes, salads, desserts and “handheld” options, according to Greco, although he declined to provide details.
In addition, the chain will also introduce the next generation unit design — tentatively called “the Sbarro of Tomorrow” — in late January or early February, Greco said. “We’re looking at all elements — equipment, menu, materials, colors,” he added. “It will all be in keeping with our new brand positioning. It will embrace the fast-casual segment.”
Greco also said the Melville, N.Y.-based chain plans to shift its new-unit development focus from its traditional mall-based outlets to more urban, street-front locations that will allow for more robust foot traffic.