Many foods complement each other. Take, for instance, peanut butter and jelly, burrata and tomatoes or chocolate and pretzels.
Most people, however, wouldn’t dream of pairing pizza and sushi. But in Greenville, that’s about to change.
Pizzeria Maki recently opened in One Greenville Crossing, which is already home to BBC Tavern & Grill and the Wine & Spirit Co. of Greenville. The new restaurant is devoted to takeout-and-delivery only. although there are some seats outside.
The restaurant enters the marketplace at a time when consumers are comfortable with takeout, delivery and the technology that fuels them both.
In 2020, independent pizza operators on Slice, an online ordering marketplace for pizzerias, doubled weekly sales from $2,000 to $4,000 on average, according to a BTIG report.
Meanwhile, the demand for takeout sushi also increased during 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the last three months of 2020, sushi was the most searched takeout cuisine on restaurant-reservation platform Tock Inc.
Pizzeria Maki is in the space formerly occupied by Quill’s Bunches, a flower shop. As a result, it underwent a total renovation — “right down to the studs,” said general manager Matt Hans, a seasoned hospitality veteran. “We redid everything.”
The kitchen has the bulk of the space.
Open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. — seven days a week — Pizzeria Maki specializes in 12-inch pies, many of which have fanciful flavors. Consider the Hot Honey with ricotta, chopped Philly-style hot cherry peppers, shredded mozzarella and, of course, honey.
The sushi menu is equally bold. Asian pear, lobster salad, black garlic soy and broccolini don’t appear on many maki menus.
“The black garlic-soy sauce is a total win,” said customer Matt Sullivan. “I’d buy a bottle tomorrow.”
Make no mistake, Pizzeria Maki is not touting itself as an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant. Instead, it is capitalizing on the public’s penchant for poke, ceviche and crudo, which gives it a long leash.
Yama (mountain) rolls are two-ingredient rolls topped with other fresh items.
“They were huge,” Sullivan said. “And, as the kids would say, ‘made for Instagram.’ They were beautiful, bold, with toppings piled high on top of the actual maki.”
One example is the Oscar Yama Maki is a crab-and-asparagus roll with a mound of tenderloin tataki (quickly seared), kanikama (imitation crab meat), royal trumpet mushrooms, cucumber, shallot crisps and truffle-ranch dressing.
Never fear, less-adventurous diners can order a humble margherita pizza or salmon roll.
Regardless of the flavors, many customers order both pizza and sushi at once, Hans said.
“They’ll get a couple of pizzas and a couple of sushi rolls. One local business ordered pizza for the office one day and sushi on another,” he said.
The creative concept has been under such tight wraps that the Facebook page’s appearance took many by surprise. The partners shy away from the spotlight, preferring instead to put the focus on the new project.
As the general manager, Hans is the face of the business. He’s worked in French restaurants and received a crash course in Japanese cuisine from the on-site pros.
“I’m learning from the masters,” he said. “And I’m giving lessons in pizza. We’re learning each other’s craft.”
To make the prep more manageable, a sushi “robot” produces perfectly shaped rectangular sheets of rice for quick rolling.
Similarly, a high-tech electric pizza oven cooks pies at high heat. As a result, the pizza resembles wood-fired pizza, complete with the brown spots known as “leoparding.”
Clearly, Pizzeria Maki does not offer average to-go fare. Whole pizzas range from $13 to $32 for crab and vodka cream sauce topped with mozzarella, crab and scallion).
If the look and concept seem ripe for duplication, that is no accident.
For now, however, Pizzeria Maki is finding its multicultural feet.
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