Pupatella’s Second Arlington Location is Coming
Here's what the owners had to say about their expansion plans.
It started as a food truck in 2007 and became a beloved Arlington pizzeria in 2010. Now Pupatella—helmed by husband-and-wife team Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg—is expanding beyond mom-and-pop status. The company recently acquired $3.75 million in funding to open eight more locations in the area over the next three years, starting with a second shop at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive in Arlington that’s aiming for an October launch.
Why did you decide to expand?
Laufenberg: A lot of people said, “We want Pupatella here, we want it there.” After 10 years, you think, I’m capable of more. We wanted more stores but were lacking skills, like how to look for real estate and set up a supply chain.
So you brought partners onboard.
Laufenberg: We are still 60 percent majority owners. Michael [Berger, a founding partner of Elevation Burger] is good about going straight to the producer. He’s planning to go to Italy to set up a direct line for tomatoes, flour and buffalo mozzarella. Adam Winder has a background in banking. He’s good at finding investors who believe in the brand and want to help us grow. The third partner, Cord Thomas, worked at Elevation Burger with Michael. He’s a great all-around handyman. Our skills are the food, the menu, the ambience, the customer service.
The original Pupatella is certified by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana. Will the new restaurants follow suit?
Algarme: We are leaning toward yes. [Certification] is a good marketing tool for us and a way to educate people about our style of pizza.
Laufenberg: It’s harder if you don’t get certified right away and try to do it later because then you have to retrain people. From the beginning is the only way to do things. It does cost us extra money. We have to get our ingredients from specific geographical areas.
Have you developed relationships with other area businesses?
Laufenberg: We started a partnership with a little farm in Arlington—Fresh Impact Farms. We get basil from them. We always go to the farmers market for local melon, figs and tomatoes. Last year we partnered with Texas Jack’s Barbecue for brisket pizza and will probably do it again.
What are your main concerns as the business grows?
Laufenberg: For Enzo, it’s quality control. Is the dough done well? With the temperature and humidity changing, you have to adjust the dough. Yeast is a live product. With different conditions, you get different results. I cook. I’ve been doing our gelato for several years.
Tell us about that amazing gelato.
Laufenberg: We used to get it from Dolci Gelati. I did some training at their lab and learned how to make it myself. I make 12 different types a week now. My cannoli flavor—ricotta ice cream with pistachios and caramelized orange—is a very good seller.
Describe one your proudest achievements.
Algarme: We’ve been lucky to have very little turnover. We still have mostly the same staff we’ve had from the beginning.
Laufenberg: We offer paid vacation and health insurance for full-time employees. Other restaurant people are shocked with what we pay our staff, but this is how we have quality.
Favorite Arlington haunts?
Laufenberg: We like Bread & Water in Pentagon City. The waffles are really good. Also Peter Chang’s places, Texas Jack’s, Artisan Confections and Great American Restaurants—they’re doing a great job.