So, you want to get into the pizza business. While I’m sure there are many books written about owning your own business, running a restaurant, etc., I doubt that there is one about what to name your pizza place. The Pizza Snob’s advice is to keep it simple and to not get too cute about it.
A good rule for any business is that your name should always include what you sell or do. I suggest you just take the name “pizza” or “pizzeria” and simply add to it using one of these ideas:
Your Location: If it’s not already taken, simply use your city’s name. For example, here we have Nashville Pizza Company. Use caution, though, because some might consider it big of you to lay claim to your entire city. It works best for a small town like Ringwood N.J. where you are the only game in town. The neighborhood name where you reside can work–e.g. Five Points or Paulus Hook.
A Famous Location: Use the name of another place that gives a favorable pizza impression. Why do you think that there are so many pizza joints referencing New York in their name?”If not the Big Apple, then why not go back to Italy, pizza’s home of origin. Naples, Genoa, Venice, and variations of the words Rome or Italy all sound great in front of the word “pizza.”
Your Quality: One underused method is to simply tell everyone how good you think your pie is like Pizza Perfect does here in Nashville. Pizza Orgasmica in San Francisco, however, could be taking it too far. (Picture courtesy of my Cousin Di.) As for how you cook it, “Brick-Oven” and “Wood-Fired” seem a bit pretentious–like you think there is something wrong with using a conventional pizza oven.
A Famous Person’s Name: Why not? Places named after famous Italians like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Figaro, or Fellini work great. Even a famous first name like a Leonardo’s or Giuseppe’s does the trick. Roman names seem to work, too. Why not name it after a Nero, Constantine, or even a Caesar–but make it a “Big” one. The Godfather has seen its time come and go, so watch names that can become culturally dated.
Wait for it–the Snob’s number one recommendation is:
Your Name: I take solace in knowing and believing that my pizza is being cooked by the guy who owns the joint. First names are good enough, and the more Italian they sound the better. Give me a Tony’s, Joey’s, Sal’s, Vinnie’s or even a plain old Joe’s. Sure sounds better than a Bill’s or Bob’s Pizza, don’t you think? And, for whatever reason, a woman’s name just doesn’t cut it. Maybe because it’s mostly a man you see tossing the dough.
Italian-sounding last names work great as well. So, if you think you are really special, legendary, or about to become so, just use your last name like Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s, or even your whole name like Hoboken’s Benny Tudino’s.
Slap an adjective in front of the name. Make yourself “famous,” “original,” or anything that makes people think you know what you are doing. Add some color describing you as “fat” or “big.” Everybody likes a relative, so consider “uncle” or “cousin” for other options.
Keep it Real: Why do the big chains have the worst names? Who wants to eat their pizza in a hut or the sky? What does a domino or a jet have to do with pizza? Why a mushroom of all things to focus on? Do you really want a Papa to prepare your pizza? Let alone one named John. An Irishman named Murphy? Seriously? What other bad names are out there for both chains and local joints that you have seen?
Test it out: If it sounds too dorky like “Skinny Mike’s Pizza,” start over!