The path to Brad Rudy’s perfect New York style pizza has been a life long journey that continues every time he steps into the kitchen.
“When you haven’t inherited, through family or culture, old world recipes for crust and sauce,” he says, “you gotta work extra hard, be extra persistent, and be aware of every experience to not only create an incredible pizza, but also approach the tradition with respect.”
Brad’s journey towards his pizza recipe started with a man he never met: Joe Stromboli. Joe was a New York Italian and a friend of Brad’s parents, and Joe knew pizza. Joe’s pizza knowledge was passed on to Brad’s mother, Mama Rudy, who cooked and created using the formulas and guidelines she learned from Joe.
Growing up in a house with the smells and flavors of old Italy forged young Brad’s sense of taste and, more importantly, his olfactory nerve. It is his sense of smell, as much as anything, that informs Brad’s decisions when modifying and crafting his za.
In his late teens, Brad’s pizza pilgrimage landed him in his first real restaurant experience working at a 5 star restaurant called Quintiliano’s in Sarasota. Quinn, owner and operator of Quintiliano’s, was the chef that taught Brad about the artistry and chemistry of cooking: the notion that great food is both calculated and creative. Quinn was also the one who inspired Brad to go to New York city.
Obeying the call to wander, Brad arrived in New York in 1980. Immediately he understood that the city was an inspired place. And when it came to pizza, there was no place like it. It seemed that on any corner of any street you could find incredible pizzerias: small, family owned shops each with their own generations-old signature recipes. Every one of them different, every one of them delicious.
New York also reinforced Brad’s tendency to try new things. ”The city’s not afraid” he says. “So you can’t be afraid either. If you feel it, learn about it and do it. Sometimes you fall on your butt, sometimes you don’t.”
After wandering back to Sarasota, Brad lived his life as young people do. Many things happened that are completely inconsequential to this story. What is important is that during this time Brad was introduced to what would become the basic building blocks of his own pizza sauce. Using an incomplete recipe from a friend, Brad drew upon his childhood memories of Mama Rudy’s cooking. He tweaked and tested, tasted and tweaked again….. for 18 years.
The wanderlust took hold again years later and Brad found himself in Georgia. It was here, in Fairmont, the most unlikely of places, Brad met Eddie Pennucci, a New York businessman from the Bronx. They became friends and over the years would regularly discuss Brad’s desire to operate a pizzeria. Then one day it happened. Badda Bing Badda Boom, Rico’s Pizzaria was born in Georgia with the help of Eddie.
After 8 years of operating in Georgia, Brad has come home to Sarasota. With him he brings the culmination of his lifetime’s journey towards pizza perfection. With his business partners, Brad has built the New York Slice Company, a pizzeria offering Sarasota the best New York Style Pizza that he knows how to make.