At age 52, Marcus Sgrizzi, or Chef Marc as he is commonly called, has undertaken a mission to spread his love of Neapolitan pizza throughout the United States.
His plan? Open as many Novecento Pizzerias as he can locally, then expand nationally.
The first store in his pizza empire opened in January at 5705 Centennial Center Blvd., with the second opening about two weeks ago at 9460 S. Eastern Ave.
Sgrizzi is negotiating a lease for the third location, slated for the northwest side of the 215 Beltway and Rainbow Boulevard.
“If all goes well, we’ll be open around the holidays,” he said.
Sgrizzi also owns Parma by Chef Marc at 7591 W. Washington Ave. The restaurant’s menu changes daily and focuses on fresh gourmet ingredients.
“I can’t duplicate Parma. I can’t be Chef Marc Parma anywhere else but Parma. There’s a lot going on,” he said.
“Once you learn the pizza, it’s a simple concept to execute. Once you take the time, if you want to learn and master it, you can do it,” Sgrizzi said.
Sgrizzi trained in Italy, where his love for the southern Italian pizza originated.
“I fell in love with the food. That feeling you have, you want to share with people,” he said.
Novecento’s menu has mostly gelato, pizza, salad and coffee, all relatively easy to create and serve.
In Southern Nevada, Sgrizzi’s main competition for Neapolitan pizza comes from Due Forni, Custom Built Pizza and Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana.
Sgrizzi and other Neapolitan pizza makers use a stone wood-fired oven to bake their pies at 900 degrees Fahrenheit for about 90 seconds.
“Some people don’t like our pizza from Naples. They’re never going to. It’s different,” he said.
His goal is to win over foodies and adventurous eaters. So far, he said, it’s working at his Centennial location.
“That area has been very good to me,” Sgrizzi said.
The cost to open a Novecento is $300,000 to $400,000, depending on whether wine and beer are served.
As for the future of his budding pizza empire, Sgrizzi said he’s considering franchising throughout the United States.
“Other people can do it. I can do it,” he said.
The number of franchise establishments is projected to increase this year by 1.5 percent to 758,399, according to a report by IHS Global Insight prepared for the International Franchise Association. Those establishments will create a national output of $803 billion this year, up 4.3 percent from last year.
Originally from upstate New York, Sgrizzi began cooking at 12 or 13. He’s been cooking in Las Vegas since 2001.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.