Ursinus students have no shortage of pizza options in their daily lives. From Marzellas, which may as well be considered an on-campus option, to chains like Dominoes that deliver for cheap, students can be choosy about where they get their pies. One really unique option, however, doesn’t seem to be getting as much love from the UC population.
Forno Antico Pizza Napolitana is a small Italian restaurant tucked away on Main Street near Sabre’s Fine Jewelry and Key Bank. Pizzas are cooked in a wood- burning oven imported from Italy. The interior is authentic Italian: paintings, brick walls, and dark-stained tables. The atmosphere is serene and sophisticated. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. The menu includes great specials and changes every two weeks to ensure freshness and to inspire customers to try something different.
I talked to Ciro Nuzzolese, the manager of Forno Antico. On the phone, he was filled with pride about his business, and he was excited to hear from a college student. He told me that Forno Antico is a family business that was originally started in Italy. The business “goes from generation to generation. This is the third generation. The owners are from Naples, Italy. They make delicious traditional Napolitan pizza.”
All of the ingredients are imported directly from Italy, according to Nuzzolese.
Their website claims that they use “fresh Mozzerella di Bufala made … earlier in the week in a small town in Campania, Italy, [their] San Marzano tomatoes are flown in fresh from the Campania region … and flour and sea salt is imported from Napoli as well.”
I asked him about the number of college students that drop by. His tone changed and sounded more somber.
“College students–not many at all,” he said. “Maybe they are afraid to come in, maybe it is a little bit high-end. When college students come, it’s usually with their parents.”
I asked him what Forno Antico has done to promote to students. He told me that they’ve tried many things.
“I’ve tried to give them specials,” he said. “We’ve had college student night where we’ve had $7 pizzas.”
Nuzzolese said that Forno Antico welcomes students and that they love the college.
“We can print up some kind of student discount,” he told me.
It seems like students at Ursinus, though, just aren’t familiar with it. Andrew Stetser, a sophomore, said that he had never heard of the place. He usually goes to Marzella’s to get pizza.
However, Forno Antico’s price points are extremely competitive with Marzella’s. Their Margherita Del Re goes for $10.99, and includes Marzano tomato, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and basil. A Marzella’s 16-inch large pizza with no toppings goes for $11.75, and an 18-inch extra large pizza goes for $12.75 with no toppings.
Thus arises an interesting question: Why is Forno Antico missing the college student market? Is the extra five-minute walk that much more daunting to college students? I certainly hope not, especially because Quickstop, Wawa, McDonald’s, the Trappe, and Da Vinci’s are all further away than Forno Antico, and they haven’t had any issue drawing students in…
So what’s missing?
I think the problem surrounds perceived value. College students are on a budget, and they see when a place looks expensive and extrapolate price points from there. Students might think, “Forno Antico: a fancy, high-end Italian place that would never fit in my budget.” But the price points are right on target, and the marginal value compared to Marzella’s is huge.
Forno Antico is a hidden gem. I love their food, their atmosphere, and their service. Their price points hit my target. The pizzas are fantastic, I usually order the Napoli pizza, which comes with broccoli, sausage, and fresh mozzarella. I’m always excited to go back, and other students should be as well.
More information about Forno Antico can be found online, or students can check it out on their own with a short walk down Main Street towards the Diner.