[1] Marrone, Vincenzo. Interview by Adam Dietrich. Chapel Hill, NC,  November 6, 2018.

A walk down Franklin Street quickly reveals that pizza is a mainstay in Chapel Hill’s culinary culture. From Lotsa to Pizza Press, it seems that pizza is offered on almost every corner. However, behind the neon signs and pizza pies lies an untold story. This story is best revealed through an interview conducted with the owner/operator of one of Chapel Hill’s most prized pizza restaurants, IP3. While many say that pizza is simply dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings, Vincenzo Marrone of Italian Pizzeria III says differently. Started in 1981, IP3 offers a unique window into the past, while providing a profound outlook on present day Chapel Hill and the culinary culture that comes along with it [1].

Vincenzo displaying what he calls the “secret sauce”, a recipe passed down to him from his mother. Personal Photograph, Date Taken: 11/8/18

In order to fully understand IP3 today, it is important to understand its past. Vincenzo Marrone has been operating IP3 along with his brother Angelo since 1996. He tells of how the business was originally started by his uncle in Durham, before the third location was opened up in Chapel Hill in 1981. From family recipes to daily support, the restaurant has undoubtedly always been a family affair. When asked about the role of family in the business, Vincenzo reiterated that their family methods have played a crucial role in their success over the past 38 years [1]. Coined, “The Little Italy of Franklin”, anyone who has visited the restaurant can attest to this. Upon entering, family photos can be seen lining the walls, commemorating the contributions of family members passed. Meanwhile, Vincenzo and Angelo speak back and forth in Italian as they toss pizza dough. While the history of IP3 is best characterized through an intricate web of family roots, perhaps the interview’s most significant takeaway relates to Chapel Hill today.

While the food has remained the same, there is no doubt that the times have not. When asked why Chapel Hill is such a great town for his business today, Vincenzo responded, “It’s not about Chapel Hill, it’s about how you do your job.” In a town where consumers have a multitude of options, and producers have a plethora of competition, having a location on Franklin Street isn’t simply a one way ticket to success. In order to combat this, IP3 has turned to the utilization of mobile services such as TarHeel Takeout to keep up with the modernization of the food industry. Meanwhile, a culmination of authentic Italian ingredients paired with a welcoming family atmosphere all provide a platform to hold IP3 above the number of competitors it faces [1]. By targeting not just the stomach, but also the heart, Vincenzo is able to capitalize on his own unique niche in Chapel Hill. Vincenzo’s words speak not just to IP3 itself, but to Chapel Hill as a whole. In a town where the food is merely an appetizer, and the experience is the main dish, each page of Chapel Hill’s food story tells its own unique anecdote. Perhaps just as remarkable as the food we know and love…. is the story behind it.

Works Cited

[1] Marrone, Vincenzo. Interview by Adam Dietrich. Chapel Hill, NC,  November 6, 2018.

Written By Adam Dietrich