For Michael Cancio, the se­crets to a thriv­ing busi­ness are the same as a good pan of pizza’s: good qual­ity and sim­plic­ity

Cebu Living - - Cover Story - By DENISE DANIELLE AL­CAN­TARA Im­age by SAM LIM

“I’m in love. I’m hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with my pizza,” Ju­lia Roberts ex­claimed af­ter tak­ing her first bite of pizza Napoli­tana at Da Michele from the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

Pizza doesn’t have to be over the top (or overly topped) ac­cord­ing to the Ital­ians. The tra­di­tional Napoli­tan Mari­nara pizza ba­si­cally has five in­gre­di­ents: bread, toma­toes, oregano, gar­lic, and olive oil. Sim­ple and no-fuss. And this world-renowned pizza is what Michael Cancio in­tro­duced not only to Ce­buanos but to all Filipinos when he opened La Nos­tra Pizze­ria Napoli­tan, the only cer­ti­fied Napoli­tan pizze­ria in the Philip­pines.

An en­tre­pre­neur and piz­zaiolo (pizza maker), Cancio shares all his learn­ings from a three-month in­tern­ship un­der three of the best pizze­rias in Naples. “Pizza is a re­li­gion in Italy, not just Napoli,” he quips.

So far, how did the Ce­buanos re­ceive the Napoli­tan-style pizza?

Napoli­tan pizza is to­tally dif­fer­ent from what we know. We grew up with Shakey’s and its thin crust and crispy piz­zas. I’ve had peo­ple tell me our pizza is hor­ri­ble.

Why? What’s the com­mon com­plaint?

[That] it’s un­der­cooked. But that’s only when I [had just] opened. I just had to take ev­ery­thing. [When] some­body tells me that my food sucks, I don’t get hurt be­cause that’s their opin­ion; we don’t have the same taste. [You could say that] my food sucks but then, I prob­a­bly won’t like the food you eat, too.

Would you con­sider that to be your big­gest strug­gle so far?

That would be one of the big­gest strug­gles, but ac­tu­ally, that was maybe for the first month or two [only]. Ac­cep­tance has been bet­ter than I had thought it would be. Filipinos like a lot of top­pings, so first, I had to ad­just. I [had to] put more sauce, more top­pings, more cheese, more ev­ery­thing. It was not re­ally Napoli­tan. It broke my heart to do that, but I [had to] do it to sur­vive and just to get ac­cep­tance. But af­ter a few months, I took it out and put back the Napoli­tan-style pizza, and it worked.

Are you train­ing peo­ple to cook the pizza?

For now, I do all the cook­ing. The pizza is all me. As long as the pizza’s cook­ing, I’m there.

Are you open seven days a week?

No, we’re not open on Mon­days be­cause I have to rest. [I only open on Mon­days] when I don’t have to work. It’s my first time in this busi­ness. It’s not only for the money; I want to serve pizza that’s good. That’s why I’m there every day.

What’s the most im­por­tant thing about start­ing a busi­ness that you learned along the way?

To not want in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. You got to log in the miles to get re­sults in any­thing in life. And if oth­ers think it will work, they should just do it.

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