Q&A: Westland pizza-maker travels the pizzerias of Europe, returns for grand re-opening of store

Paul Visingardi comes from a rich pizza legacy. His father, an Italian immigrant, arrived in the United States in 1930 and opened a pizzeria here in 1958. Roughly 30 years later and Paul would open his own pizzeria, Vizzy’s Pizza Palace, in 1989. First located in Wayne, Vizzy’s is now located Westland, where it’s been slinging pies since 1999.

Every July Paul shutters his business so he can take his family on vacation. This year, the Visingardis toured Europe and tried its different pizzas. We asked him about it.

Q: It's not often that you hear of a business shutting down for a whole month so that they can go on vacation with their family. Why is this important?

When I first opened in 1989 we were open seven days a week with no vacation. After a little over a year I decided to start closing on Mondays so we could start a family of our own. After having two kids and my wife still helping me run the business we decided to start closing for just a few days around the 4th of July holiday--the slowest time of the year for our business--to take our young kids at the time, in 1995, on a family vacation.

Before my mother died in 2001 one of the last things she said to me before she died was to please close our business longer to take more time for our family vacation so we decided to start closing almost two weeks in July. As our business grew and we became more established we gradually increased it so we are now closed the entire month of July. My steady customers know we do this every July.

Q: What countries and their pizzas have you tried on your trip? Are there big differences between each style?

I have traveled to Italy were the pizza is thin with a tomato-based lite sauce with fresh mozzarella.

In Greece the pizza was made with feta cheese instead of the fresh mozzarella in Italy, and olives are very popular. And yes we went to a Greek restaurant--they really do yell Opa and dance on the tables and smash plates on the floor.

In Malta the crust is a thicker crust with olive oil instead of sauce and chicken and anchovies.

I noticed that just like certain areas in the USA, like Chicago is known for deep dish, New York is known for thin crust and Detroit seems to embrace all types of pizza, but thick seems to be a little more popular. Other countries seem to differ in style and what they use as toppings are what’s available and popular for the region.

Q: What's been your favorite and why?

My favorite pizza is my own pizza. I prefer the more flavorful sauce with more spices and sweeter sauce. I prefer our thicker dough and more generous amounts of cheese and toppings like our signature pizza The VizzANater.

Other than my own pizza I love the pizza in Italy. It is very flavorful and I can taste my family recipe in it.

But I enjoy the many different types of pizza all over the world and when we travel I eat pizza almost everywhere we go and sometimes bring back some of these tastes and ideas.

My customers enjoy me bringing them along with our journeys via Facebook and they look forward to some of the new ideas we come up with but can always depend on our pizza and other food we serve being always delicious.

Q: What do you have planned for your grand re-opening?

While we were closed for vacation we had our pizzeria remodeled, updated for better service and floors professionally waxed so everything looks as good as new. We also usually bring back a new food idea from our traveling adventures. This year I’m still deciding what this will be.

Vizzy’s Pizza Palace is celebrating its Grand Re-Opening on Thursday, Aug. 2. It is located at 35925 Ford Rd. in Westland.

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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