“I figured the best way to get ahold of the situation and get ahead of it was to do away with what we are lacking,” he said. While the construction of new residential property in downtown Duluth has brought him more customers, the lack of public transportation makes it harder to find employees.
“In a way, the pandemic kind of helped me push my agenda of making O4W a regular old pizza place — takeout, delivery, counter service kind of thing,” he said.
Since March, he’s beefed up pizza-by-the-slice offerings; added subs, heroes and garlic knots; and eliminated some hot pasta dishes. At the same time, he has decreased the number of seats in the pizzeria, and he lets guests worry about finding a table and schlepping their food.
Citing legal concerns, Spina, 47, was circumspect about his severed ties with Nina & Rafi. “I was basically not wanted is all I can really say,” Spina told me in a phone interview, echoing a previously published report in Atlanta magazine. He confirmed that he still owns a 30 percent share. Streck, for his part, issued a statement saying he wishes Spina “nothing but the best,” and will continue to serve the same menu.
Spina may be down by a restaurant, but he has a full plate, nonetheless.
This week or next, he plans to roll out a pizza truck, which will offer his best-known creations (Grandma, Detroit, Jersey-style), by the whole pie or slice, at undisclosed spots in the historic West End. He acquired the truck out of fear that he might lose O4W Pizza during the pandemic. Now that business is back, he can relax a bit. Down the road, he’ll use the truck mostly for catering gigs — parties, events, etc.
Early next year (February, if all goes as planned), he’ll open Pizza by the Slice in the former Goin’ Coastal space in Virginia-Highland. The counter-service establishment will sell pizzas, slices, subs and a couple of salads. Intown fans of Spina’s piece de resistance, the Grandma Pie, now offered only in Duluth, will rejoice to hear Granny’s back in town.
In retooling O4W Pizza, Spina said he followed the playbook he sketched out for Pizza by the Slice. “What you see at the slice shop will pretty much be what you will you see from me anywhere going forward,” he said, hinting at future projects.
One thing he learned from operating O4W Pizza in tandem with Nina & Rafi was the importance of consistency. Since he can’t be in two kitchens at once, he’s in the process of building a “dough commissary,” a centralized kitchen that will make the crust for all his pies.
“If I do it at one spot, for all places, then I have a lot (better) chance of getting the same product every time somebody walks into any location.”
Heard. Just don’t expect a server to bring you your pie.
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Menu: pizza, salads, sandwiches
Alcohol: beer and wine
What I ordered: Jersey Shore pizza (breaded chicken, fried onions, hot cherry peppers and prosciutto); Spicy Italian pizza (Grandma pie topped with meatballs, pepperoni, Calabrian chiles, and ricotta); Greek salad; Kitchen Sink sub (with ham, capicola, salami, turkey, roast beef). The pies were as magnificent as always. The sub was loaded with meat, though I would have liked it a bit oilier. The salad was fresh, and perfect for next-day lunch.
Service options: dine-in (counter service only); takeout and delivery via Uber Eats, DoorDash, Caviar and ChowNow
Outdoor dining: yes
Mask policy: yes, for employees and customers
Address, phone: 3117 Main St., Duluth; 678-587-5420
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 12:30-9 p.m. Sundays
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