Authenticity is the Main Ingredient: Made In New York Pizza embodies this special dish

Established in 2018, Made In New York Pizza embodies a New York City pizzeria serving the best pizza in Manhattan. Its four locations have become the epitome of what people think when they picture New York-style pizza. It doesn’t matter if it’s a square or a triangle as long as the flavors satisfy its customers’ palates. The newest and fourth location opened this month, marking the latest in the brand’s expansion, with the third location opening in Spring. The four locations include two on the Upper West Side on Amsterdam Avenue, one midtown on 7th Avenue, and one West Village on Hudson Street.

The partners behind Made In New York include a who’s who from the music industry and entrepreneurial world, including Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Oseary, Eytan Sugarman, Ryan Tedder, and DJ Clue. 

Art was also a key element in the design and planning of Made In New York Pizza. As a result, Sugarman and artist Eric Faraci collaborated on over 1,100 images that he felt told a mixed story of Sugarman’s New York City. This was a combination of moments from sports, movies, landmarks, people who grew up in New York, and people who represented New York. The partners saw Alex Alperts’ work, and Sugarman loved how he marries all these components into one cohesive image that almost reminds him of a board game, as funny as that sounds. 

All three artists worked with Sugarman, who loved the art component in the design of the pizzerias.  “To me, it’s an expression of my New York told through the art and the product. We’re telling a story of all New York means to me,” says Sugarman

Sugarman, restaurateur and creator and chief operator of Made In New York Pizza, is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side. He entered the hospitality world in the late 1990s, becoming a partner and top operator at the hottest New York nightlife and restaurants, such as Suede. Throughout the 2000s, he partnered with Justin Timberlake on Southern Hospitality and Daryl Strawberry on Strawberry’s. During the last decade, he has been a partner in the successful Hunt and Fish Club and recently took over the historic and iconic White Horse Tavern.

He has advocated for New York nightlife, restaurants, and hospitality within the New York World, leading various initiatives to support hospitality owners. Sugarman brought five partners together for Made in New York, all long-time friends that wanted to create an iconic pizza entity. Now endorsed by culinary and celebrity luminaries, Made In New York Pizza has expanded to reach multiple neighborhoods in Manhattan so more people can quickly get the pizza they desire, and all locations feature NFTs in its artwork.

Partners of Made In New York Pizza spoke during a round table with Food and Beverage Magazine about the growth and popularity of Made In New York Pizza.

Why did you want to be a part of Made In New York Pizza?

Eytan Sugarman: I created Made In New York because I wanted to create an authentic New York slice shop experience just like the places I grew up with. It had to be a very specific flavor profile and true to its roots. There are many styles of pizza, but I grew up with a New York round pie cut into eight triangular slices, and I wanted the customer experience at Made In New York to be very specific and authentic.

Gary Vee: I have been a prior investor in Eytan Sugarman’s businesses, including Hunt and Fish Club. I have also had a longtime friendship with him for about 15 years. I reviewed the man’s character, and I’m incredibly confident in his ability to operate. 

Ryan Tedder: I’ve known Eytan Sugarman for 20 years, invested in multiple restaurants with him, and trusted his instinct on the pulse of New York City. You combine that with pizza, and our other partners, Gary Vaynerchuk, DJ Clue, and Guy Oseary, and being lifelong friends helped make the choice easy.

DJ Clue: I’ve been friends with Eytan for 25 years, and when he came to me with the idea, I thought it was great as a pizza lover. The city could use a great pizza brand if the product were amazing. I believe we have achieved that. I always have people complimenting me on the pizza.

There are incredible talents for a successful combination. What attracted each of you to the pizza business

Eytan Sugarman: My passion for the product attracted me to the pizza business. Again it’s what I grew up on. Pizza was a fairly inexpensive luxury that even poor kids like me could afford occasionally. It’s hard to express how much of a treat it was when my beloved father had a few extra dollars and would treat us to a few slices at Vinnies Pizza on West 73 Street on our way home from school. I’ve been in the hospitality business for over 20 years, owning fine-dining restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.  I wanted to enter the fast-casual market too, and there was no better way than to produce a product I grew up on and loved.

DJ Clue: As a pizza lover, I knew there was a need for a new strong brand in the city

How was Made In New York born?

Eytan Sugarman: Made In New York was born from wanting to recreate a small portion of my childhood. I grew up on the Upper West Side, and we opened our first pizzeria right in my parents’ neighborhood. It was just three blocks from where I went to elementary school and the neighborhood that first introduced me to my favorite food, Pizza. 

Gary Vee: It came about because he asked, and I couldn’t have said yes faster. He didn’t even finish the sentence of being involved, and the answer was yes. 

DJ Clue: 

There were a couple of conversations and brainstorming. I knew it was a great idea. As a kid in school, Friday was pizza day, and I always looked forward to it. It was a no-brainer.

What is your focus at Made In New York to differentiate your pizza and offerings?

Eytan Sugarman: Our focus at Made in New York is to give the authentic, quintessential New York City slice shop experience—a nice selection of pies, round ones, square ones, some thicker, some lighter, appropriate toppings in a casual but comfortable environment. 

DJ Clue: I’m a big critic when it comes to food. Our pizza is top-tier. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Daily quality checks are a must.

What are your core values for keeping your customers happy?

Eytan Sugarman: Core values ultimately come from the culture of the brand. It was a brand born of passion, love, and friendship. A boy from New York City, his old partner from his nightclub days, and close friend Ronnie wanted to create a slice shop reminiscent of the ones they grew up with. We service our customers to the best of our ability, with uncompromising standards, a fast, friendly environment that screams New York, and a product made of the best ingredients, made with love. 

DJ Clue: The customer is always right. Being polite and ensuring they are happy and satisfied is a huge concern for us.

What has been the most exciting and educational part of the pizza business?

Eytan Sugarman: The most exciting part of the business for me has been evolving the art and design of the locations to be a part of the expression of the overall product. We incorporate custom, curated street art into each of our stores, once again molding the overall product to touch all the senses and ultimately be a love letter to the greatest city in the world.

DJ Clue: Learning how important location is the key and how many different styles of pizza people like was interesting 

What are your goals with Made In New York?

Eytan Sugarman: Ultimately, our goal with Made In New York is to touch as many places with our product as we can locally and eventually nationally and internationally. We want to share our product and expression of our city as far and wide as possible.

DJ Clue: Our goal is to make this brand a household name. I definitely would love to see us in home freezers as well. Our pizza comes back out of the freezer like it was just made.

What part does each person play in Made In New York?

Eytan Sugarman: My partner Ron and I are the day-to-day operators for each of our roles. Gary is always helpful with his marketing and social media ideas. Guy has been great with making strategic brand partnerships with people like Madonna, who we partnered with to create a pizza truck last year, and Bored Ape Yacht Club, where we catered their NFT New YorkC events last year. DJ Clue and Ryan play a significant role in the discussions of music played in-house. We lean heavily towards old-school hip hop but also throw in a little Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra too.

DJ Clue: I promote and connect the brand with celebrities, especially when they are in New York City.

What is your favorite menu item?

Gary Vee: Probably, the White Spinach and the Plain. I’m a purist; I like the plain. But the White Spinach hits my palette and pairs exceptionally nicely with the red wine I want to drink.  

Ryan Tedder: The original Grandma and the Vodka slice

DJ Clue:  I would definitely say the classic Sicilian pie

What are the best-selling and signature dishes?

Eytan Sugarman: Best sellers are our famous Spicy Pepperoni Square which got an 8.3 rating from Dave Portnoy on Barstool Pizza Review. Our classic plain slice is always a winner, and people rave about our Vodka Sauce slice and the New Margherita made with Stracciatella Cheese.

DJ Clue: Definitely our spicy pepperoni since it’s legendary 

Tell us about the design. The custom art angle is really unique, and incorporating New York graffiti art is a great touch. Why was this important?

Eytan Sugarman: The custom art installations were chosen by me as a further expression of capturing so much of what makes New York City, in my mind, the greatest city in the world. We have an old-school 1980s-style custom graffiti mural on the floor of our West Village store made painstakingly by legendary graffiti artist Lord Henry. It’s reminiscent of the graffiti I grew up with on the subways and walls during the period where New York City street art was born.   I co-created a collage painting with over 600 images with a great young Canadian artist named Eric Faraci. Eric is a big Gary Vaynerchuk fan and contacted me after seeing me on Gary’s show. Eric drove a painting he created for me from Canada to give to me personally. We began this work over 38 nights of discussing and dissecting thousands of possible images before narrowing it down to the finished product. I’m so proud of it, and we have one in each of our stores. We also have hand-painted murals by another great young artist named Alex Alpert, who does a wonderful job of marrying images we pick together into a finished product that speaks to the beauty and character of the neighborhoods we are a part of.

Why Invest in the pizza business? 

Gary Vee: Pizza is one of the most iconic staples in our society, especially in New York City. When you have somebody who is so New York in their DNA, like Sugarman, and has the pedigree to be an operator for over three decades, it becomes one of the easiest investments of all time. 

Ryan Tedder: It’s the most enjoyed and eaten food on earth. Eytan and I are absolute snobs regarding pizza, whether it’s New York, Naples, Rome, or New Haven. We know the difference between good and great. With his experience in the New York restaurant scene (combined with our level of absolute pizza snobbery), I knew there was a good chance of success.   

Four years ago, Eytan told me he wanted to start a pizza restaurant that could become a chain. He knows pizza is my favorite food on earth, and I knew he would source the best pizzaiolo and the best menu in Manhattan. After 20 years, I have trust in that guy, and the name Made In New York Pizza has a great ring to it.

Ultimately Made In New York started as a passion project and a labor of love from a boy from New York City who wanted to put out a product that expressed his love for his hometown. This is about the food he grew up with, along with a group of friends who were inspired by his vision and wanted to take that journey together.

“It’s been an absolute joy, and we’re so excited about expanding further within the city and beyond. The name says it all. Made In New York Pizza. That’s who we are, with great pride, and our product is an authentic expression of just that. We’re just so glad the people enjoy it as much as we love producing it,” said Sugarman.

To reach out to the artists, follow Lord Henry  @lordhenryli (west village), Eric Faraci @ericfaraci, and Alex Alpert @alex.alpert.

For more info and locations, visit madeinnewyorkpizza.com. Follow on Instagram @ Madeinnewyorkpizza, Facebook @ madeinnewyorkpizza and Twitter @ Madeinnypizza.