“Our pizza is made from focaccia crust,” said Dylan Jones, operating partner of The Wizard of Za. “It’s very pillowy and spongy, but the way we cook it in the pan allows the crust on the bottom to get very crisp and caramelized.”
Jones said they will have a variety of pies including the Rainbow Pie, a pizza with stripes of vodka sauce, house red sauce and house pesto sauce on top of the cheese, and the Wicked Cheese Pie, a pizza with vodka sauce, thick slices of provolone and house red sauce smothered with garlic oil and a pecorino and parmesan cheese mix.
“We have a pretty unique pizza for Dayton,” Jones said.
The pizza shop’s Dayton location will be its first in the Miami Valley. The Wizard of Za has a spot on N. High Street in Columbus, about a mile north of the Ohio State University campus.
“I’m excited to be a part of (the Dayton) community,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a cool culture change for us to see the difference between the two spaces.”
He explained their Columbus location doesn’t get much foot traffic from students walking in front of the restaurant. He said since they’ve been working on the Dayton location, he has already seen a lot of students walking by their new spot.
Paceline Restaurant Partners, which also owns FUSIAN Sushi and Hunny Bee’s Chicken, purchased The Wizard of Za in October 2021, said Stephan Harman, co-founder of Paceline.
The Wizard of Za began when Spencer Saylor started making the Sicilian-style pizza for his family and friends and posting pictures of it on Instagram, Harman explained. He said it spiraled from there.
Saylor told Dayton.com he had an Instagram of 30,000 followers at that time.
“The hype around it got really big and we had a waitlist of 4,500 people,” Jones said. “People were waiting months to get a pizza.”
Harman said their model as Paceline Restaurant Partners is to incubate new businesses. They had reached out to Saylor to see where he wanted to take the pizza business and they ended up with a brick-and-mortar location in Columbus.
He explained they acted in a supporting role until purchasing the restaurant. Harman said Jones was Saylor’s first “right-hand man.”
Saylor said he stepped away at the end of 2021 and described that moment as “bittersweet.”
“It was ready to start growing like it is, opening a spot in Dayton, and I just ultimately did not have that in me to continue,” Saylor said.
Harman said he is looking forward to bringing this new style of pizza to the Dayton area.
“We’re very excited,” Harman said. “We feel like there’s no pizza like it in Dayton.”
Jones added, “We have an amazing staff here in Columbus and we’re eager to push ourselves and learn what it takes to go from one to two.”
He said they are still growing and expanding in terms of their menu and are looking forward to seeing where the Dayton community takes them.
Jones said the pizza shop could open anywhere from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24.
“We serve the warmest possible experience through kind people, handcrafted pizza,” the shop’s mission statement says. “Magic happens wherever kind people gather around delicious pizza.”
For more information about The Wizard of Za, visit the shop’s Instagram or Facebook pages. The pizza shop also has a website, www.thewizardofza.com, but Jones said they are in the middle of a rebranding project.