Social media posts that tease “IYKYK” are wink-wink references to insider information — the acronym stands for If You Know You Know.
Wilmington foodies are using the hashtag to refer to Nick’s Pizza, a pop-up started by Nick Vouras.
The business has no brick-and-mortar restaurant, business phone or website.
So, if you want to sample Vouras’s praise-worthy pizzas, you need to know when he’s selling them, how to order them and where to pick them up.
This is where IYKYK comes in: Vouras posts the week’s specials and the main menu on his Facebook and Instagram pages.
Just type @Nickspizza302 in your browser. Message or text him your order. (His number is on his social media posts.)
A note on his Facebook pages says his pizzas will be available this month on March 9, 14 and 30 at Mulrooney’s Tavern in Wilmington. Normal service will resume at the end of the month, the post says.
Starting at the end of the month, pizzas will be available at on Nick’s normal schedule: Thursdays at Mulrooney’s and Friday (11 a.m.-6 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Sunday (10- a.m. to 1 p.m.) at Kozy Korner in Wilmington’s Little Italy
And there’s good reason for that Kozy Korner connection.
“I was born there,” he quipped.
In reality, Vouras was born in Wilmington, but his family has owned Kozy Korner since 1922.
The original building stood at Delaware Avenue and Washington Street but was demolished in 1984 to make way for a hotel.
In 1992, the restaurant reopened at Ninth and Union streets.
John Vouras, Nick’s father, now operates the restaurant, and Nick started helping at age 12.
As a teen, Vouras didn’t realize how much he would miss his hometown until he went to California State at Northridge, a Los Angeles neighborhood.
“I missed the food from back home,” he recalled.
Specifically, he missed pizza, which is available on seemingly every corner in Delaware’s largest city.
The homesick student started watching online videos to learn how to make pizza, and when he decided to return to Wilmington, he got a job in a pizza restaurant to learn more about it.
The right stuff
Lacking a pizza oven, Vouras used Kozy Korner’s regular oven for his experiments. The most successful was the Detroit-style pizza, which suited the commercial equipment.
It’s an appropriate choice considering the pizza originated in Buddy’s Rendezvous, a former speakeasy that required a password.
Buddy’s 0wners, Gus and Anna Guerra, were inspired by rectangular Sicilian pizza. They used a steel automotive drip pan with high sides to create the right shape and accommodate the thick focaccia-like dough.
The dish was so popular that Buddy’s Rendezvous became Buddy’s Pizza.
The rectangle defines Detroit pizza, but so does the crust, which must be crispy yet chewy. Moreover, the cheese should caramelize against the pan’s sides, creating a lacy effect known as a “frico edge” in pizza parlance.
The standard menu on his Facebook page lists a 10-inch-by-14-inch tomato pie starting at $10 with flavor options and add-ons such as pepperoni and an 8-inch-by-10-inch Detroit-style pizza in red ($12) and white ($13) with add-on toppings. You can also order a 10-inch-by-14-inch focaccio with maldon for $6.
Vouras’s pizzas quickly gained a cadre of underground customers.
“We love it,” said Traci Murphy. “The crust is not soggy, and it’s so light. Plus, the whole experience makes it feel like a treasure hunt.”
“The flavors, the crunch, the crust, the sauce — it’s perfect,” said Venu Gaddamidi, co-owner of Ciro Food & Drink on the Riverfront and Ciro 40 Acres.
He isn’t the only impressed industry insider.
“The best in Delaware,” maintained Chef Reuben Dhanawade, who competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped” series.
Granted, he’s biased.
Dhanawade and Vouras collaborated on a pop-up featuring Indian-inspired fried chicken sandwiches and pizza.
Indeed, Vouras isn’t afraid to think outside the pizza box. His debut flavor for Kozy Korner customers was creamed chipped beef. Interestingly, the first buyer was from Detroit.
Since then, specials have included cheeseburger, chicken gyro, peach and lemon.
Vouras is creative in other respects.
For example, he leads in-home pizza-making parties, and he recently brought pizza to pair with Italian wines for a tasting at Swigg, a wine and spirits store in Independence Mall.
The next step
Now Vouras is determined to conquer the circular pizza, and that task will be easier if all goes as planned and he can lease space with room for a specialized pizza oven.
His first dedicated eatery will be takeout only, an approach that works for him. For now, he’s keeping the potential location a secret. IYKYK.
Vouras is ahead of schedule; he’s 24 and aims to open a pizza restaurant by age 27.
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