Frozen pizza pioneer, Palermo’s Pizza, expands its horizons  

Last summer, Palermo’s Pizza announced plans to open a new manufacturing location. Now, with operations well underway, Nick Fallucca, Chief Product and Innovation Officer, provides an update on the company’s progress and another new expansion project. “The expansion effort is developing nicely. Last summer we expanded our facility network into Jefferson, WI, which is just West of Palermo’s headquarters in Milwaukee. Our Jefferson facility is used for pizza topping lines. We also recently announced another expansion project, a local spot in West Milwaukee just five minutes from our headquarters. It’s nice and close and we’ll be hiring from our local community, which is always a bonus. We’re in the middle of the construction process, trying to figure out what needs to go where in terms of plant and equipment. It’s an exciting time, for sure.” 

Palermo Villa Inc Jefferson FacilityThis latest expansion is simply the most recent chapter in a cross-generational tale of food and family. As the company celebrates its 60th anniversary, Nick looks back on the journey so far. “It’s amazing to think back to when I started. I’ve been growing with the company for my whole life, really. It has a long history, going back to our original factory, the one my grandparents basically converted from a house into a production unit. I remember going there as a child and seeing them make everything. They were crafting their own sausage by hand, chopping vegetables, and bringing all the ingredients to life. Having witnessed their hard work and dedication, it’s amazing to see how it’s all paid off. 

“Sixty years later, here we are. It’s incredible to think about what’s been built over a few generations. My grandmother is still alive, and when I talk to her about all the new things we’re doing, she gets so excited. She’s very proud of her family. For me, everything comes back to this same belief: amazing food is what made us successful, and it’s what makes us successful now. 

“People aren’t going to come back if you don’t have good food; if you can’t offer something delicious, and authentic. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, employee engagement wasn’t really a term that people used, but what that really means is having a group of people who want to work together, and who share a common goal. We have that. Everyone wants to create amazing food, and everyone who works for Palermo’s Pizza is treated like family. That’s something that will always be a part of our identity. 

“We have new ways of doing things. The company is different now compared to when it started, but we still have a good connection with the consumer. The food has only got better and better. Technology has helped make frozen pizza a much more diverse category overall, and we can simply do so much more with it now. A lot of the time, it’s even better than restaurant pizza. The same thing goes for our people. As the company has grown, we’ve brought in new teams of employees from different demographics. We’ve got innovators and industry experts from across the world working for us now. Everyone is engaged and interested in what we are doing. Over the last 60-plus years, we’ve created an exciting, dynamic environment for dozens of people; we’ve built a family. And, to top it all off, we’ve made some amazing food.”  

Ongoing innovation 

The family-first attitude pioneered by Nick’s grandparents continues to define the company’s working culture today. As Nick discusses: “Culture is interesting. We

Nick Fallucca, Chief Product and Innovation Officer
Nick Fallucca, Chief Product and Innovation Officer

always talk about culture, what it means, and who drives it. But culture is largely a force defined by the people. You can’t push a certain dynamic onto people, that’s not how they work. It arrives out of good values and the right working conditions. We have the Palermo Way, which is basically a wheel of different beliefs that we live by within our business. When you reflect on our culture, it’s really a combination of all those things at once and at the same time, greater than the sum of its parts. Our people are a family, and they are absolutely great. 

“We work in a fast-paced industry there’s always new innovations to implement and new technology to get your head around. What we do for our staff is make sure they are kept up to date on everything that happens within the business. From new machinery, to updated customer specifications, our team is informed at every level. They know what the new products are, who we are partnered with, and when we are launching them. This allows everyone to work toward the same goal as a single unit. Every successful launch and on-time delivery is an accomplishment that we can all share in. We love to win, and that sense of camaraderie really makes Palermo’s Pizza a fun place to work.”  

Taste sensation 

The innovation and creativity of Palermo’s Pizza comes into full force with its latest addition, as Nick details: “In Rome, they make these amazing flatbread pizzas. They are usually sold in little refrigerated cases, to keep the dough fresh and ready to re-heat. It’s a special kind of dough, known as Pinsa (pronounced PEEN-sa). It utilizes both rice and soy flour, which makes it really moist and sticky for longer periods of time. The result is this beautiful cell structure in the base of the bread. To achieve the right texture, pillowy in the middle and crispy on the bottom, the dough needs to be proved for 24 hours. Once you’ve done that, the dough is quite malleable. You can put oil and salt on it and have it as a snack or add toppings and create a new spin on some classic pizza combinations. For our Urban Pie PINZZA line, we’ve stuck with the most authentic toppings: San Marzano tomatoes for the pizza sauce, burrata, and other locally sourced Italian cheeses. It’s arguably the best tasting frozen pizza in the market right now and I can’t wait to see what the consumers think.”  

The company has refined its recipe for success over the last 60 years, but there’s still much more to come. As Nick concludes: “In the future, we’d like to see continued growth. I want to keep building on my family’s beautiful legacy. We’re putting out some fun new products that really tie into our heritage, and creating something our employees can be proud of. If we keep doing that, we’ll be successful no matter what.”