Snacks N'At: V3 Flatbread Pizza, Downtown
There's tremendous confidence hidden in the name of Downtown's newest pizza shop, V3 Flatbread Pizza. The three Vs stand for “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), Julius Caesar's famously terse description of one of his many successes.
But although the first V3 opened three months ago, it's no start-up operation. It is the product of a year and a half of preparation by Varol Ablak, who founded Vocelli Pizza and built it into a 95-shop empire on the East Coast, with $44 million in sales in 2014 and 2,000 employees.
“We've had tremdous growth years, but the new thing on the horizon is fast, casual pizza,” Ablak says.
V3 is a small shop behind Fifth Avenue Place, between Liberty and Penn avenues, with about 50 seats. It's fast: generally about 10 minutes from placing your order to receiving your pie. You can watch as the sauce is spread on the dough and toppings are added. You can then consider your choice of “finishers,” which are added after the piece comes out of the oven.
Ablak and several of his senior staff traveled to check out “fast and casual” pizza shops in Detroit, California and Dallas to see how other businesses were implementing the concept.
“We were intrigued by the idea of fast and casual, so we wanted to put our own twist on it, the flatbread pizza,” he says. “But we're always looking at the demands of the customers. Basically, everyone likes an open environment.”
A second V3 is set to open in February in Lawrence‑ville. Ablak already has interest in V3 as a franchise in Pittsburgh, part of Ohio and the Washington area.
All pizzas are $8 and divided into two categories — customer designs and V3 creations.
The choices in build-your-own pies start with three kinds of dough — traditional, multigrain and gluten-free. The seven sauces include traditional, spicy and garlic sauces, and also the less-common basil pesto, BBQ, Buffalo and Buttermilk Ranch. There are 15 vegetable toppings from which to choose, many organic.
Meat lovers have nine choices, including seasoned steak and ham. Eight cheeses are available. In addition to two kinds of mozzarella, there's cheddar, feta, asiago, gorgonzola, goat and pecorino romano.
The aforementioned finishers, which are not cooked but heated by the hot pie, are two kinds of cheese, arugula, lettuce, and four oils, including red pepper chile.
All eight of V3's pizza creations offer a complex combination of flavors. The Tuscan Garden, for example, combines traditional red sauce and Wisconsin mozzarella with organic cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, banana peppers, organic mushrooms, red peppers and parmesan cheese.
V3 also has two kinds of salads, with a choice of six dressings, $6, and for dessert a large Belgian Waffle topped with Nutella, $5.
Beverages include a choice of organic high-end bottled drinks and sodas.
V3 Flatbread Pizza, 11 Fifth Ave., Downtown, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. 412-919-2100 or v3pizza.com.
Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.