Sneak peek inside new Dayton restaurant as it fires up its ovens

7:51 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 Homepage

Old Scratch Pizza, an independent restaurant in the works just south of downtown Dayton, is firing up its wood-burning pizza ovens — and hiring — as it gears up for a projected mid-October opening.

Staff Writer
Old Scratch Pizza Kitchen Manager Nate Vance makes a pizza under the watchful eye of Gianni Gallucci, left, a member of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletoni from Chicago. Dried pasta is used in the test pizzas to simulate the weight of pizza toppings. The Dayton restaurant is projected to open in October. MARK FISHER/STAFF

The new casual pizza restaurant and beer hall at 800 S. Patterson Blvd. will accept applications and conduct open interviews from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17, Old Scratch Pizza founder Eric Soller said this week. Open positions include pizza cooks, bartenders, cashiers, dishwashers and bussers.

But on Wednesday, Soller’s attention was focused on his twin Neopolitan-style wood-fired pizza ovens, which were fired up to full interior temperature of 800 to 1,000 degrees to do bake some test pizzas. The ovens can cook a signature Naples-style pizza in two minutes or less, Soller said.

Gianni Gallucci of Chicago, who trains Naples-style pizza bakers in the U.S. on behalf of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, was brought in to provide instructions to Old Scratch employees, including kitchen manager Nate Vance and pizza baker Andy Graupmann. Gallucci will return to Old Scratch in the coming weeks to provide training to newly hired staff, Soller said.

“We wanted to bring in someone who truly understands the Neopolitan tradition and who can help us lay a foundation for following that tradition,” Soller said.

Staff Writer
Kitchen manager Nate Vance removes a test pizza from the ovens at Old Scratch Pizza on Patterson Boulevard in Dayton. The restaurant is projected to open in October. MARK FISHER/STAFF

The restaurant, directly across South Patterson Boulevard from Grismer Tire near Miami Valley Hospital, will be owned and operated by Soller and his wife Stephanie Soller of Oakwood, who met while both were attending (and later graduating) from the New England Culinary Institute. Soller said the 6,000-square-foot, 125-seat pizzeria and beer hall will have communal seating and a casual, open environment. It will feature a variety of craft beers on tap.

Eric Soller served as operations manager for Dayton-based Solganik Food Group for six years until 2006, and has managed hotel and catering kitchens in Oregon, Michigan and Colorado.

Soller said Old Scratch Pizza’s location will have ample parking and will benefit from its proximity to downtown Dayton, Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton, including nearby UD Arena.

Old Scratch Pizza will be open for lunch and dinner, and will employ 30 to 40.

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