We’ve been making books with Scott Wiener of Scott’s Pizza Tours for years now. We event got him to take a few of us on one of his tours while we were in NYC, and we returned the favor when he came into town and visited Scout Books. On every book is emblazoned “New York’s Cheesiest Guided Tour!” and we are living for that kind of cheesiness. We sat down with Scott to see what’s new with him and talk about how his team uses custom Pocket Pizza Journals on their tours!
So you make a living giving pizza tours. And it’s not just you! You have a pizza empire at this point. How did this whole thing get started?
I got really interested in old pizzerias right after college. It was a strange time for me to not be sure what I should be doing so I focused on pizza. I would take my friends to a bunch of pizzerias in one day just for fun. Then I decided to rent a bus for my birthday to take a whole bunch of friends on a pizza trip. They had such a blast they encouraged me to make a business out of it. Nothing was further from my interests but after a couple months I gave in and stared to poke around figuring out what it would take to get that sort of thing off the ground. I took a chance and dove in head first. Now I eat pizza for a living.
Serious question: what is a pizza?
GREAT QUESTION! On one level, pizza is kind of bread that gets baked with stuff on top of it. I have many versions of the definition but the truth is that definition is always changing. What was pizza 100 years ago is now a pretty narrow version of the reality of that name. Pizza has only become wider, mainly because of its popularity. I actually tackle this topic on my show, Really Dough?, available on Thrillist, YouTube, and Amazon Prime. In every episode, I bring a strange pizza to Mark Iacono, owner of the famous Lucali in Brooklyn, and we debate about whether or not it’s really a pizza. He’s very strict with his definition but I’m not. Makes for a fun show!
How do you include Scout Books in your pizza tours?
Information and context is extremely important on the tour, otherwise it’s just a bunch of people visiting a few pizzerias. That’s not so exciting. Every single tour guest gets a Pocket Pizza Journal. This way, guests can fill out the worksheet we created and end up with detailed tasting notes. It’s a hoot and people love it. Everyone posts pics of the journal at the beginning of the tour so all their friends will get jealous. I never thought a pic of a notebook would make people jealous, especially when 10 minutes later they’ll be photographing the pizza. BUT IT DOES!
What’s the strangest slice of pizza you’ve ever eaten?
On the Really Dough? show I eat all sorts of crazy pizzas. But I also judge culinary competitions, so people really go all-out on those. I’ve had salmon pizzas, peanut butter pizzas, even a 24k gold pizza!
Next time we’re in NYC we’ll definitely be grabbing a slice with you. What can everyone else do to get in on the pizza goodness?
New York City has excellent pizza in terms of quality and variety, but you can get great pizza ANYWHERE! If you’re not close to anything great, make it yourself! It’s not as hard as it looks and I promise the sense of pride you get from a great pie out of your own oven is irreplaceable.