Instapizza first opened doors in August 2014 in Gurgaon’s Galleria Market among three other firmly established pizza joints. After working for six years as an investment banker in London, New York born and bred Ashwin Jain was ready to satiate his self-actualization desire. DSSC met up with him at his Cyber Hub outlet to chatter, banter and philosophize about pizza and his business venture.
Ashwin started Instapizza because he loves pizza. It’s as simple as that. He’s grown up eating pizza and eats pizza at least three times a week. “I’m not a burger guy, I’m not a taco bell guy”, he said, “I’m a pizza guy.” Although he always knew he wanted to do something in F&B, when he moved back to India in 2012, he’d didn’t have a clear cut business idea. While he was initially veering towards opening a French bistro type of place, Ashwin was aware that he lacked restaurant experience and the “economics of it were too risky as well”. So he decided to dive into the market with a pizza place, “hired a guy” and they started cracking on with a New York style dough recipe. 400 batches of dough later, there’s a well established chain of Instapizzas in Delhi and Gurgaon and a seemingly fit Ashwin!
At the beginning what set Instapizza apart from the rest was its unlimited topping without charging customers extra, and different crusts from thin to thick to ragi. We tried the thin crust pizza with chorizo, jalapeno and sundried tomatoes and absolutely loved it. The crust was thin yet sturdy and the sauce, cheese and toppings ratio was bang on. And we loved the pizza even more when Ashwin told us that Instapizza makes their own sun dried tomatoes. The more local, the better is the philosophy we swear by as well!
“I wanted to do the whole unlimited toppings because I want everyone to get what they want without having to pay extra and they walk away with a personalized pizza experience,” says Ashwin. He explains that the way Instapizza now works ends up catering to the three broad category of pizza lovers and enthusiasts alike.
“Broadly, I think there are three types of people who eat pizza:
- The I-Know-What-I-Want pizza lover: I know what I want and I want it every single time. That’s what I’m going to order. A customer like me will almost always turn to the unlimited toppings to create his own pizza.
- The Experimental pizza lover: This one is open to experimentation and always wants to try something new. The unlimited toppings also cater to this category.
- The Why-Don’t-You-Tell-Me pizza lover: This group likes to explore the specialities that you have put together and what flavour profiles you think work as a self proclaimed pizza place. This group of people will turn to the Instapizza classic.”
Instapizza’s menu caters and pleases a wide audience.. The irony of this chain is that it serves quality pizzas at fast food prices, which is relatively unseen and unfound in Delhi. We’re personally quite happy to see that there’s finally a restaurant that doesn’t charge heaps for generosity.
Ashwin’s venture also became the most successful chain in the city to serve up a deep dish pizza, which is Chicago’s own 20th Century spin to the pizza that came from Italy to USA in the 1800s. So what made him launch the deep dish pizza, which weighs as much as an tiny baby, six months after the launch in Galleria? “Well, it was through a friend actually. She tagged me in a post where someone had asked where they can find a deep dish pizza and she goes, ‘Hey Ashwin, why don’t you do this?’ So I did and it was well received so we made it a permanent member of the menu,” he says.
When the deep dish pizza arrives on the table, it’s nothing like we’ve seen before though it does remind us of a larger version of a pie. Inside it’s loaded with cheese, sausage and pineapple and the top has been generously decorated with rich arrabiata sauce and pepperoni. The pizza is pretty much a very cheesy pie and it’s delicious and highly satisfying but a slice is all our stomachs could take. The arrabiata sauce, made in-house using imported tomatoes, is lip smackingly yummy and a touch of it on the tongue is all it takes to fall in love with the rich fresh tomato sauce.
Before bowing out on that note, we asked Ashwin for a quick peep into the cooking process of the deep dish. He obviously obliged: Start with a garlic butter lined pan. Line with one layer of dough. Layer of cheese. All your toppings. More cheese. Seal the whole thing on top with another layer of dough. Two cycles of baking. Then ladle on the arrabbiata sauce. Put on more toppings. Back in the oven for the final bake, and enjoy!
Instapizza is a product of Ashwin’s desire to “add something new to the world” and he found that something in his love for pizza. In a short while through the steep and steady incline of Instapizza, Ashwin Jain sure has carved a deep spot for himself in New Delhi’s F&B industry.
This conversation is a part of the DSSC Secret Conversation Series, where we get candid with the ace of base industry disrupters.