Skip to main content

Thinking outside the (pizza) box

Using his family’s 300-year-old pizza recipe, award-winning Chef Maurizio Mascioli celebrates 10 years of serving up slices in his Parry Sound restaurant.

Hundreds of chefs gather every year to represent their country in the prestigious International Pizza Championship. Most are highly accredited culinary experts with years of formal training and walls full of certifications. Canada’s entry, Chef Maurizio Mascioli, didn’t even realize he was signing up for a global competition. The former contractor renovated an old car wash to house his much-loved Parry Sound pizzeria. He had never actually made a pizza before opening the shop but only a few years later began winning small competitions and found himself representing the Canadian Culinary Federation in the contest. After two days of intense competition, the pizza enthusiast easily excelled with his entry, “The Great Canadian,” a thin-crust pizza topped with apple, bacon, cheddar and local maple syrup and was awarded a gold medal. The following year he achieved the rare honour of a perfect 100 score with his “Hockey Night in Canada” pizza that defies gravity by balancing a pile of nachos on a tiny 3mm crust.

The awards might have shocked Chef Maurizio, but his loyal clientele likely wouldn’t be surprised. Shortly after opening, he quickly outgrew his tiny 400-square foot storefront thanks to his mouth-watering menu featuring classics like pepperoni and Hawaiian along with unique creations like the Carnivore, featuring five different meats, and the Vampire Slayer, packed with garlic, charred rosemary and cracked roasted almonds.

The celebrated chef and volunteer firefighter shares how he keeps his community stuffed.

Rogers Business: Congratulations on 10 years in business. How did you get started when opening your pizzeria?

Chef Maurizio: Ten years ago feels like yesterday! We had a family-run business that started as a classic Italian eatery with pasta, veal and pastries. The tourists loved it in the summer, but locals started to request authentic Italian pizza. I had never actually made a pizza before! Neither had my mother. We had a family pizza recipe passed down through generations. It was all chicken scratch and barely legible. I found a school in Toronto that helped entrepreneurs and got started. Demand was huge and we kept selling out. I’ve only closed the shop twice. I’m a volunteer firefighter and usually go out on calls in the night but these were big emergencies and lives were at risk. This is my community.

Rogers Business: How did you feel scoring a perfect 100 at the International Pizza Championship?

Chef Maurizio: I didn’t realize I won! They start announcing the bronze medals and work towards the gold. I kept listening for my name and I was so disappointed and assumed I totally blew it. I didn’t even hear my name and people started shoving me up to the podium saying, ‘You won!’ The pizza was inspired by my work as a volunteer firefighter. After a long shift, we go to the bar and watch hockey over a plate of nachos. I wanted to combine that with a pizza. It took me six months to create.

Rogers Business: You also won an award this past year for having the best customer service in Parry Sound. What’s the key to good customer service?

Chef Maurizio: The key to good customer service, is not treating the people like customers. Nobody wants to feel like a number. The way we operate is that we are very friendly and very personal. We strike up a conversation with everyone.

Rogers Business: What’s the best part of owning your own business?

Chef Maurizio: There are so many. If I had to pick one, I’d say creative freedom. That’s for all aspects of the business: the vision, how you operate and even what kind of promotions you can offer. This past weekend we worked with the Salvation Army and I created vouchers for free calzones. If I was an employee at any other business, I could give my two cents and it may or may not be heard. I can be as creative as possible here.

Rogers Business: What has been your experience with Rogers?

Chef Maurizio: Our previous phone system was so unreliable. Every minute my phone is down I lose revenue. I talked to someone at Rogers and they told me about Unison, which has an auto attendant to greet customers and direct calls. I got it set up in two days. It’s so flexible.

Rogers Business: What’s next for you?

Chef Maurizio: I was just selected to be part of an elite program for Galbani Professionale, which is an authentic Italian cheese brand started in the 1800s. I never would have expected all this ten years ago.

Rogers Business: Where can we find your business online?