Navi Mumbai chef Ankith Suresh was inspired by the story of the Neapolitan pizza while working at a 5-star hotel.

This UNESCO-certified and one of the most coveted varieties of pizza is said to be “as soft and floppy as a basset hound’s ears”.

Ankith says he was taken up by this and would spend hours watching videos of the Neapolitan pizza being made.

“I realised that the pizza culture in India is very different from the one that exists abroad,” he says.

This realisation was followed with a thought — “What if we were to create these Neapolitan pizzas in Mumbai?”

In March 2021, Ankith launched Mad Pepperoni with his friend Priyanka Mandal to serve authentic Neapolitan pizzas.

Today, the venture earns an average turnover of Rs 24 lakh annually, he notes.

However, building the brand was not so easy. The first pizza they made was nothing close to perfect.

“The pizza was flat, the flour wasn’t right…We were stressed because we’d left our jobs, did not have a source of income, and had invested all our savings into this venture,” says Ankith.

Elaborating on the most obvious challenge, Ankith says it was “the lack of Italian flour”.

So they hired a vendor to find the right wheat and get a ratio that would suffice for the pizza.

“We then worked on the look of the pizza, as the edges of a Neapolitan-style pizza should be puffy,” says Ankith.

Needless to say, success was inevitable, and today, the duo treats around 50 people to their pizzas every day.