In 1989, a cool idea sprouted in Spring Hill. A dad and his son, Phil and John Pepitone, dreamt of opening a little pizza place at 10517 Spring Hill Drive. They decided to call it "PJ's Pizza Chicken and Ribs" using the first letters of their names, Phil and John. For eight years, they worked hard at their pizza shop. But one day, they decided it was time to sell it.
That's when my part of the story begins. I was 16 years old in June 1997, and my parents, Jerry and Cathy Zampella, wanted to "buy my dad a job." Back then, my dad sold copy machines for a company called Danka. He knew that his skills would be put to better use as a restaurant owner than a salesman. My father Jerry has always been a great cook and the most organized and hard working person I've ever known. His mother, Grace Zampella whose family immigrated from Bari Italy, taught him her family's recipes. The same recipes we use at Pj's Brick Oven Pizza still today.
My father did such a great job that the business started to grow. My mother was able to quit her job as a graphic designer to work full time at the pizza shop. Now that Jerry and Cathy were teamed up and working together in the business they outgrew that unairconditioned, 700 square foot spot.
In 2004 they broke ground on our new 2800 square foot building at 2144 Mariner Blvd. My parents are childhood friends with Richie Ferrara. For any pizza nerds out there, Richie's family owns Marsal and sons Pizza ovens. The absolute industry standard in gas fired brick ovens. The ovens are also manufactured in Lindenhurst, NY my parent's hometown. They dicided purchase 2 Marsal MB60 double stacks. You can cook 24 sixteen inch pizzas at the same time. With all this fire power they dicided to change the name from Pj's Pizza Chicken and Ribs to Pj's Brick Oven Pizza. Our new building was completed in 2005. In 2018 I officially took over operations from my parents Jerry and Cathy. I hope to continue to make my family proud and to continue to serve Hernando County. Our family is so grateful to have been a part of this community over the last 26 years.
In November of 2021 we opened up our second location at 13037 Cortez Blvd in brooksville. We hope to continue to serve Hernando County with delicious Italian food for at least another 26 years.Thank you to everyone who has supported us along this journey. Words cannot describe how proud we are to be a part of this community.
Jerry Zampella - Self Proclaimed Pizza Nerd
In the world of pizza, not all flours are created equal. You might have heard the term "bleached" thrown around, but what exactly does it mean? Is it safe? And why is it even used in the first place? Today, we're going to dive into the fascinating history and science behind bleached flour.
The Chemistry of Bleached Flour
Let's start by demystifying the term "bleached." In the context of flour, bleaching is a process that involves the addition of certain chemicals to make the flour appear whiter. It's important to note that this isn't the same bleach you use for your laundry, but when you delve into their chemical makeup, they share some surprising similarities.
So, why add bleach to flour? The primary reason is simple: aesthetics. People have a preference for whiter flour. Some claim that it helps with gluten activation, but the main goal is achieving that pristine white color.
The Evolution of White Flour
To understand the need for bleached flour, let's take a quick journey through the history of flour. In the past, all flour was whole grain, typically wheat. The process of refining flour to make it lighter involved sifting, specifically removing the germ and bran from the grain—a technique known as bolting. This painstaking process made white flour a luxury item reserved for the elite.
As technology advanced, steel roller mills made it easier to produce white flour, which became more accessible and affordable. White flour offered desirable baking properties, a longer shelf life, and quickly became a staple in households worldwide. However, traditionally aged white flour had a slight yellowish hue. This aging process allowed the flour to develop gluten and enhance baking quality.
As with many processed foods, chemicals entered the picture to expedite what nature did over time. Bromate and bleach were introduced to accelerate the aging process and achieve a truly white product.
Our Commitment to the Best Flour
At PJs Brick Oven Pizza, we take a different approach. We only use General Mills Harvest King high gluten flour. Our commitment to providing quality flour means that we do not use either bromate or bleach in our pizza dough. Harvest king is naturally treated with malted barley flour, an ingredient that mimics the effects of bromating without the use of harsh chemicals. It enhances gluten reactions and ensures a high-quality pizza experience.
Jerry Zampella self proclaimed pizza nerd.