La Jolla’s American Pizza Mfg. makes the meal, you do the home cooking
La Jolla resident Andrew Melone thinks he has a recipe for a home-cooked meal that can’t be topped: fresh ingredients artfully assembled and ready to go from American Pizza Mfg., the “family-focused pizza and pasta concept” he opened in July at 7402 La Jolla Blvd.
American Pizza Mfg. (short for manufacturing) is “designed around taking food and cooking it at home so you get the hottest, freshest product in your home,” Melone said. The company is less a restaurant and more a “food prep slash retail concept,” he said.
American Pizza Mfg. sells pizzas, pastas, salads and desserts that are assembled in the shop and taken home by customers to cook and eat.
“It’s for everybody,” Melone said, though it’s largely aimed at parents “who prefer to cook but really don’t have the time.”
The food has “all the advantages of a quick takeout [with] super-high food quality,” he said, adding that there’s the “emotional benefit of pulling something hot out of your oven.”
Business is “going great,” he said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from the community. People love the food, they love the concept.”
Customers can choose from a list of specialty pizzas or build their own “masterpiece” from available toppings, with each pizza assembled at American Pizza Mfg. on a piece of cardboard.
“All you have to do is unwrap them” and cook them at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, Melone said.
As American Pizza Mfg. doesn’t cook the pizzas itself, “we can turn the pizza into art,” he said. The assembled shrink-wrapped pizzas leave the store looking “beautiful.”
All the food — from the pizza dough and pastas to the sauces, dressings and cookies — is made from scratch, Melone said.
It’s also “healthier because it’s all fresh and never frozen,” he said. And with no ovens or stacks of packaging in the store, “we eliminate a lot of the overhead, and those savings go into the quality of the food and it doesn’t impact the cost of what we sell.”
“It’s an awesome product for a middle-of-the-road price tag,” he said. Most pizzas range from $13 to $23.
Melone’s favorite menu items are the pizzas, though he says the “home run” item is the lasagna. “It’s really tasty; you can’t beat it.” He’s also a fan of the shop’s 10-inch cookie.
Melone, who lives in Bird Rock, moved here five years ago from Chicago, where he invested in a similar concept he had patronized with his children. Once in California, he decided to bring the concept here.
Melone built American Pizza Mfg. on his background in advertising, managing global brands. “My dream was to start and manage my own brand,” he said.
American Pizza Mfg. is inspired by “1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s America, before there was fast food” and when families gathered over a meal every night, Melone said.
“I’m a huge fan of that era,” Melone said. “What we do is conducive to homemade cooking.”
The shop’s pizzas are named after iconic American brands, such as “The Standard” after Standard Oil and “The Flyer” after Radio Flyer. “We’ve got a ‘Hallmark’ and a ‘Harley,’” Melone said. “It pays homage to the industrialism of America.”
Opening American Pizza Mfg. in the midst of a pandemic “obviously wasn’t planned,” Melone said, but the company is “sort of uniquely positioned to weather the pandemic, because we are takeout only. We don’t have tables; we don’t serve food here.”
Orders can be placed in the store or by visiting americanpizzamfg.com.
The website also includes information on downloading the new American Pizza Mfg. app for Apple and Android platforms. Via the app, customers can store payment information and past orders for easy reordering, as well as participate in a rewards program that offers free items after a certain number of orders are placed.
Melone said he is working on plans to offer delivery service and hopes to expand with more shops beyond La Jolla. “We’re having a ball doing it,” he said.
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