Pizzeria Prima Strada

It’s hot, delicious, and made quickly in a wood-fired brick oven. The concept is simple, but at the two restaurants run by Cristen DeCarolis Dallas and Geoffrey Dallas, making pizza is a minor art form.

Pizzeria Prima Strada is the place they opened in 2008 in Cook Street Village. Last year, a larger version opened near Gorge Road, and they have plans for other locations.

Their pizza is the thin-crust variety, made with fresh ingredients and sparing the mounds of gooey mozzarella slathered on conventional pies. Dallas spent most of a year on research and trying out different recipes in his garage.

It didn’t seem like a logical career path for the couple, who met at a small Silicon Valley software company that grew. An English major, she was in facilities management, while he worked in development.

“This never entered my thoughts. I never had any restaurant experience,” DeCarolis says. But she has Italian roots: her father’s family came to the United States from Naples.

Their inspiration was a neighbourhood Chinese place close to where they lived in San Jose, California. “We wanted a place where we could go with the kids to eat,” she says.

The biggest challenge in starting Prima Strada? “Getting over that fear you’re not going to be successful, taking that leap,” says Dallas, who grew up on the Prairies and has family in Victoria. “It’s the hardest business to be successful.”

“Both fathers begged us not to do it,” DeCarolis says. But both dads are now staunch Prima Strada supporters. Given the crowds coming for pizza most days, it’s not hard to see why.

See www.pizzeriaprimastrada.com.

Check out the rest of the winners from the 2011 10 to Watch:

Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre | Body Dynamics Headquarters | Cook Culture | Draught WISE Draught Integrity Technicians | Evidents Mobile Dent Repair | Lizard Adventure Travel | Onlyhuman Furniture | Origin Gluten-Free Bakery | Sterling Financial Accounting Services