Michael Stiglitz is justifiably proud of the chefs behind his six Two Stones Pubs and 2SP Tap House, located in New Castle County and southeastern Pennsylvania.
But the culinary wizards and corporate chef Chris Meyer shook in their shoes when faced with the prospect of making one common dish.
“They were all definitely scared of pizza,” Stiglitz recalls. “You have to deal with dough, proofing, the oven temperature. It must have great color, great flavors.”
Put too many toppings ingredients on top, and guests might get a landslide of toppings on their plates. Cook tomato sauce incorrectly, and it becomes bitter.
The crew soldiered through classes with a specialty food company and a trial run that produced some unintentionally oblong shapes. But in the end, they pulled it off 2SPizza is up and running in downtown Newark.
Although linked to the 2SP Brewing Co., taphouse and Two Stones family, the new eatery has its own personality — shaped by its older siblings and a changing marketplace.
2SPizza is in the former Arena’s Deli and Bar at 168 E. Main St. Before closing, the site was Arena’s only New Castle County location. The other stores are in lower Delaware.
The space is in a prime area, but Stiglitz wasn’t looking to open another eater. His tired team had just opened 2SP Tap House in Chadds Ford.
“Do you think I’m crazy enough to open sign up for another project?” he asked commercial real estate guru Joe Latina.
“Yes,” Latina replied. “That’s why I am calling you first.”
Another Two Stones was out of the question. After going through the pandemic, Stiglitz knew that concept required significant labor and overhead to pull off. What’s more, takeout doesn’t travel well; the menu is not designed for it.
Pizza, however, was another story.
Not your everyday pizza parlor
It wasn’t the first time Stiglitz and his executive team had pictured pizza. When he, Meyer and operating partner Ben Muse talked shop, they often commented on the pie’s appeal.
“First of all, everybody loves pizza, and everybody loves beer — and we already have a brewery,” Stiglitz noted. (2SP Brewing Company is headquartered in Aston, Pennsylvania.)
There’s another reason.
The friends have a love-hate relationship with Domino’s Pizza.
“We text each other photos of our order and tease each other when we get a free one,” Stiglitz said. “We’re feeding this giant chain monster.”
Pizza is perfect for today’s consumers, who don’t want linen tablecloths and napkins. Plus, they are accustomed to using technology to order and pay for food. The quick-service restaurant sector has shaped these trends.
Two Stones and Domino’s
2SPizza is no ordinary pizza spot, and it is far from a Domino’s.
For one, it is a 118-seat full-service restaurant with a full bar and more than 12 seats outside. While the space was already a restaurant, it underwent renovations to give it a hip Two Stones/2SP vibe.
For another, you won’t find 2SPizza combos in a large chain operation.
All the pizzas are 12 inches, and flavors include the Blue Hen — roasted chicken, garlic-ricotta cream, blue cheese and mozzarella — and the Chesapeake with crab, truffle oil, basil and Old Bay.
Chicken wings, pepperoni fries and bruschetta are among the appetizers, while sandwiches include an upscale take on chicken parmesan with burrata.
Selections such as an Impossible grinder with plant-based sausage and a mushroom “cheesesteak” should satisfy vegan students.
There are also three entrees, including salmon and vegan options.
Stiglitz said the menu leads to an efficient flow from kitchen to table — which, after all, is the appeal of a casual concept. His six pizza ovens can handle high demand.
The early success is good news for those who live outside Newark’s borders.
While there won’t be any Two Stones Pubs popping up soon, 2SPizza is ripe for replication.
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