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Pizzerias 101: Everything You Need to Know About Pizza Shops

Caroline PriceAuthor

Pizza is one of the ultimate comfort foods, having won over the hearts and tastebuds of countless generations world-wide since the early 19th century. 

In the immortal words of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen "gimme pizza, p-i-z-z-a!".

In the United States, pizzerias are an incredibly popular segment in the restaurant industry, responsible for $46 billion in sales in 2020. 

In this guide to what is a pizzeria, we'll walk you through:

  • Some FAQ's about pizza and pizzerias, including where they got the name, what defines a pizzeria, and what you might find on the menu.
  • Stats about the pizza market
  • Key players in the space

What is the Definition of "Pizzeria"?

Pizzeria is another word for a pizza restaurant or pizza parlor – a place where pizzas are made, sold and served to customers. The term pizzeria comes from the product, pizza, and the suffix, -eria, which translates from italian to “place of” in english. Together, pizzeria means “place of pizza”. 

There is some confusion on how to spell pizzeria – is it pizzaria or pizzeria? Although it’s a commonly misspelled word, the correct spelling is pizzeria (no “a” in the middle!). 

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How Much Does it Cost to Open a Pizzeria?

Just like any restaurant, it's costly to open a pizza business. At a minimum, it will cost at least $75,000 to $100,000 to open a small pizzeria, according to NerdWallet. If you’re looking to open a larger, sit down restaurant, that cost to open a pizza shop could increase up to $1 million in start-up fees, given the cost of specialty pizza ovens from wood-fired to gas-powered.

But these costs don’t have to come out of pocket. Loans are available to help fuel a new restaurant opening. Here are a few other options to look into for restaurant financing.

If the financial investment sounds doable, and you’re still interested in how to open up a pizzeria, keep reading. 

Average pizza shop owner income

Like the start-up costs, the average income of a pizza shop owner depends on several factors. Size, location, sales, revenue, costs, and profitability are all factors that greatly influence an owner’s income. Payscale estimates that an average pizza shop owner’s income varies between $60,000 and $113,000 a year, depending on experience. Learning how to run a pizzeria efficiently takes time, and and restaurant owners’ incomes depend on the success of their business. 

Pizzeria supplies

With such a specialized menu, your equipment and supplies might look a little different from a traditional restaurant. Equipment to prep dough (like proofing cabinets and dough sheeters), cook pies (so many different types of ovens!), and serve pizzas (serving stands, warming bags) are all pretty unique to the pizzeria concept. 

Here are some items to start with: 

  • Pizza oven 

  • Refrigeration equipment 

  • Prep stations (including any specific pizza dough prep needs, like dough sheeters, presses, or proofers) 

  • Fryer (if you have other items on your menu, like french fries or mozzarella sticks) 

  • Other general restaurant essentials

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What is Typically on a Pizzeria Menu?

While pizza is your main attraction, your menu can include many other items. Salads, chicken wings, sandwiches, calamari, french fries, and mozzarella sticks are all common additions to pizzeria menus, but feel free to add whatever you feel fits best for your restaurant. 

For the pizza itself, most restaurants offer multiple size options. The average pizza sizes are small, medium, and large, and range from 8 - 18 inches in diameter. For pricing, the average pizza price varies by state (Forbes did a feature on this!), but a large pizza usually costs between $10 - 15 (and decreases from there for smaller sizes).

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Top Pizza Chains

With pizza restaurants making up 17% of all US restaurants, it’s no surprise that major pizza chains have a hold on the country. Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s dominate the US market. Domino’s is also the biggest pizza chain in the world by gross sales – with over 17,000 stores in 90 countries. 

Independent Pizza Restaurants

Regardless of the international fame of Domino’s, independent pizza restaurants still hold their own in the US market, making up 41% of US sales. Chain pizzerias make up the other 59%.

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Why is it Called Pizza?

The word pizza was first recorded in the early 1800s, and according to, there isn’t one agreed upon origin of the word. “Pizza, of course, is borrowed from Italian, but the deeper ingredients of the word are unclear,” they explained. “Some think the Greek pitta (pita, with a root sense of “bran bread”) is the source. Others look to the Langobardic (an ancient German language in northern Italy) bizzo, meaning “bite.” 

In Italian, the meaning of pizza directly translates to “pizza”, but can also be translated to “pie”. 

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Where Did the World’s First Pizzeria Open?

The world’s first pizzeria opened in Naples in 1830. Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba is thought to be the first-ever pizzeria, and is still open and serving customers today.

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Where Was the First Pizzeria in the United States? 

Lombardi’s, the first pizzeria in the U.S, opened in New York City in 1905. Lombardi’s closed temporarily in the 1990s, opened back up 10 years later, and has been serving their cult following ever since. 

The first commercial chain pizzeria opened is The Original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which opened in 1925 in New Haven, Connecticut, and now has 12 locations across the Northeast. 

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Which Country Sells the Most Pizza Per Capita?

Surprisingly, Italy is not the answer here. Norway actually sells the most pizza, per capita. Norway’s pizza consumption is about 11 lbs per person, per year.

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Pizzeria Industry Analysis

Pizza Industry Statistics

The pizzeria industry is a massive part of the United States’ restaurant industry. 

The pizza industry market share is 9.5% of the US commercial foodservice market. And the pizza stats are incredible: pizza sales have been consistently growing for over 10 years, and in 2020, pizzeria sales hit over $46 billion, with over 78,000 restaurants and over 800,000 employees nationwide. 

Delivery and takeout skyrocketed in 2020, making it easier than ever for customers to order from their favorite pizza restaurants.

Pizza Industry Trends

Online ordering and third-party delivery are two technology trends in the restaurant industry that are taking over - so of course they’ll impact the pizza industry. Pizza Magazine also identified ghost kitchens, and plant-based meats as toppings, as emerging pizza trends in the industry. 

Check out the full trend report from Pizza Magazine here.

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