Joe’s Pizza Goes Dirty South

I saw this peice in the New Canaan Advertiser Online and wanted to  share that one of my favorite pizza places can now be found in the dirty south:

When longtime New Canaan resident Joseph Mysogland started a new life in Georgia almost nine years ago, his disappointment in the pizza down South never ceased. But a new pizza haven has opened there with local ties.

“It’s called Joe’s Pizza SSI for St. Simons Island,” said Lorenzo Colella, owner of Joe’s Pizzeria in New Canaan, who has partnered with Mysogland on the venture.

The new shop has opened in St. Simons Island, a small town on the southern tip of Georgia.

“I saw the lack of amazing quality pizza like Joe’s in New Canaan,” said Mysogland. “I grew up eating it one or two times per week.”

A professional golfer at the Westchester Country Club in New York until 2002, Mysogland then traveled to Sea Island, Ga., to pursue an off-season job that was supposed to last only four months.

“Now it’s turned into almost nine years, a wife and a daughter,” the co-owner and president of sales and marketing at JMM Productions said.

Colella and Mysogland, family friends for 25 years, joined with a silent partner and opened Joe’s Pizza SSI on May 28.

“[St. Simons Island] is an awesome beach community,” said Colella. “It’s not a huge place like the Jersey Shore, not so commercialized. It’s more like a New Canaan on the beach.”

The friends, who both went to New Canaan High School, developed the idea after years of Mysogland trying to get Colella to visit the Peach State.

“Every time I’d go to New Canaan, I’d try to get him to come down,” said Mysogland. “After eight years of pushin’ and shovin’ and selling him, they finally agreed.”

Colella told the Advertiser his friend always liked his food.

“For years he’s been telling me ‘Ya know, you gotta come down and check out this place. We need awesome pizza like yours,’” he said.

Colella said the water is the reason for the rumored poor-tasting pizza down South. Having only ever made pizza up North, though, he said he couldn’t be certain, but wasn’t about to take any chances.

“We’ve been making the pizza down there with bottled water,” he said. “It doesn’t come out that different. It might taste a little blander, but you taste more of the tomatoes and cheese.”

Joe’s Pizza in New Canaan uses tap water.

Unlike Joe’s in New Canaan, Joe’s Pizza SSI is open Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m. and the rest of the week until 11 p.m. It also seats between 30 and 35 customers.

The new logo for Joe’s Pizza SSI.

“It’s simple dining, no wait staff,” Colella said. “It’s big after the bars. Besides the tourists, locals hang out there.”

St. Simons Island is about five miles wide, and 15 miles long. It is home to roughly 18,000 year-round residents, but peaks during the summer season, welcoming nearly 20,000 tourists, Mysogland said.

Joe’s Pizza SSI is the first to provide a gluten-free menu on St. Simons Island, and also the first to serve pizza by the slice, Colella said.

For the first year, the menu at the new location is being kept simpler than the one in New Canaan, offering only pizza, salad, wings, bread sticks and wraps.

“Because it’s so small like New Canaan, people are coming in from young to old to see Joey,” Colella said of his business partner’s appeal. “They like him a lot, and now they’re getting to know me.”

Mysogland said he feels “extremely thankful” for the opportunity the Colella family has given him.

“They didn’t have to give me the recipes,” he said. “I’m just thankful his mother and father trust me and my family to carry their family secret half way around the country.”

Open now for two weeks, Joe’s Pizza SSI has been selling about 150 to 175 pies a day, according to Mysogland.

“[Joe’s in New Canaan sells] 300 pizzas a day, but he’s been open for 40 years,” he said.

Quality control

Most important to Colella, he said, is keeping the pizzas down there consistent with the quality up north.

The new general manager, Judah Lynch, was trained in New Canaan and has strict instructions from Colella on what to do and not to do.

Colella will return to Georgia in two weeks.

“They’re hiring new people. They might be slacking off and not realize it. It’s quality control,” he said.

Colella said he plans to visit St. Simons Island six times in the next six months.

“Depending on how the summer goes we might be adding more stuff to the menu, so I need to train them for that,” he said.

Future plans

Plans to open other locations are already in discussion.

“I learned a lot about myself, just going down there and organizing this,” Colella said. “I have a little more confidence and I’d like to do more than just SSI.

“If there’s a spot down there, I’d like to work with Joey again. I definitely want to expand now that we know that it works other places other than New Canaan.”

Colella said the partners have thought about branching out to other major beach communities, including Myrtle Beach, S.C., Virginia Beach, Va., the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Jacksonville, Fla., and near the Jersey Shore.

“The sky is the limit on what we want to do with it,” Mysogland said.

Having previously considered opening a second location in Fairfield County, Colella said the St. Simons Island opportunity has changed his mind.

“It’s so expensive up here,” he said. “Darien was the first I ever thought of and this opportunity came up and I’m actually happier I did down there first.

“I’d rather go other places. People need good pizza.”

Written by Caitlin Shapiro, Advertiser Correspondent

Tags: , ,

Categories: Uncategorized


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5 Comments on “Joe’s Pizza Goes Dirty South”

  1. Patrick Saylor
    June 28, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    I ate at Joe’s three times last week. He has a great product, and he’s a great guy. He’s a real asset to St. Simons Island and we’re glad to have him here! Welcome!

    • Toriano's "La Buena Vida"
      June 28, 2010 at 10:58 am #

      Glad to hear from someone down there enjoying the pizza I love and grew up on. If you are interested here is my post on the original one in CT You should look foward to when/if he starts adding more of his creations to the GA menu. Thanks for stopping in and update me on how its going.

  2. Anonymous
    July 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Joey is a perv who is in jail

    • July 19, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Turns out this business relationship did not work out. I have to say I saw that coming. Is joey really in jail?

  3. Anonymous
    August 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    He is definitely not in jail! I ate lunch there last week and he took my order..

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