There are well-known fast-casual concepts for burgers (e.g., Shake Shack, Five Guys), Mexican food (Chipolte, Moe’s Southwest Grill), and deli sandwiches (Jimmy John’s, Panera) but what about pizza? (Domino’s and Pizza Hut and the like are in the Fast Food, not Fast Casual category; the main differences between the groupings being quality of ingredient choices and pricing.) Taking a gander at Restaurant Business Online’s 2016 list of top fast casual chains, there’s Ohio-based Donatos Pizza, but the closest locations to Westchester are in Erie, PA and Vienna, VA.
Located next to Starbucks at the downtown fountain park, the 110-seat counter-service restaurant uses fresh, upgraded ingredients such as four-year-old prosciutto di Parma, organic tomatoes from Italy, and house-made mozzarella, “I have a guy roasting butternut squash and eggplant in back,” says Lombardo.
Ordering is done via a nifty build-your-own pizza process: pick your dough (classic at $7, whole wheat at $7.50, gluten-free at $8.50), sauce (red, béchamel, basil pesto), and cheese (fresh or shredded mozzarella) to create personalized 10-inch pie. Toppings range from $1.25 for a single to $2.75 for four.
Salads work similarly; you get to pick one from a choice of 7 greens and add four toppings and a house-made dressing for $8. Beer and wine is on tap as well.
There are nine signature pies too; I’ll be returning for the winning prosciutto arugula ($9.50) with fresh mozzarella, imported fontina, shaved Reggiano, parma prosciutto, crisp arugula, and a white truffle oil drizzle.
One of the keys to a quick and good-tasting pizza product, according to Lombardo, is his gas-fired, 700°F Italian pizza oven with a stone bottom that rotates. “The rotation results in no cold or hot spots so you get an evenly cooked pie. And no need for a pizzaiolo to stand there fussing with it.” The resulting crust is a hybrid between the heavier and chewier New York-style crust and the lighter, thinner Neapolitan crust.
An assembly line oven set-up allows a pie to come out in the order in which it was put in plus facilitates cooking time management (2 minutes, 30 seconds), says Lombardo.
Perhaps one of Pizzeria Veloce’s biggest advantages is pies are made fresh to order — there are no pizzas sitting on the countertop to be reheated.
19 Court St, White Plains