In March of 2013, Mason Wartman, the owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, left his job on Wall Street in NYC, and returned to Philadelphia with an idea. He wanted to replicate the $1 pizza concept that had been popping up all over New York in Philly. So, in May 2013 he leased his current space on S 11th Street between Market and Chestnut, and on December 20, 2013 he opened for business. The first few months, he says, were a learning experience–and a transition from employee to employer–but business really began to take off when he introduced his “pay it forward” concept of entrepreneurship.
At Rosa’s, named for his mother, not only can you buy a tasty slice of pizza for just $1, but you can also purchase slice(s) of pizza for future customers—specifically, you can buy a slice or two, or however many you’d like, for a homeless person that would otherwise be unable to afford a piece of pizza, or even a meal in many cases. Everyday, it is estimated that Rosa’s provides between 40-60 slices of pizza to the homeless and food insecure people that come into the shop. While not a new concept, Rosa’s pay it forward concept became so popular that it was featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show in January, among other media coverage.
I had the opportunity to attend a small event at Rosa’s earlier tonight and hear Mr. Wartman speak about the process of opening his pizza shop, evolving from a $1 slice concept to a $1 slice + pay it forward model, and of course, how he learned to make pizza—the secret is in the dough!
The pizza at Rosa’s epitomizes the classic Philly pizza slice—in the best way. The sauce is flavorful, but not too chunky. It provides a nice coating on the crust and is then covered by a nice amount of cheese. The slice isn’t too cheese—since the owner doesn’t like too much cheese—and therefore the cheese doesn’t overwhelm the tasty crust. The crust is chewy with a nice sweetness to it. I bet it would be delicious turned into bread for sandwiches! You also have the option of adding sausage, pepperoni or mushrooms for an additional 50¢ a slice. That means for $5, you can get two slices of cheese pizza, a soda and buy two slices for a homeless person. Doesn’t that sound like a good deal?
Everyone should check out Rosa’s Fresh Pizza not only for the pizza nourishment, but also for the nourishment for your soul, and come pay it forward with pizza!