Located across the street from the Princeton University campus and Thomas Sweet, Naked Pizza is in the right place, and it must be the right time.
“Business is doing well,” says owner Kathy Vik, who opened the shop at 180 Nassau Street almost three years ago.
To a great extent, the shop’s success can be attributed to Vik’s business savvy and intuition. She expected the business to attract moms — like Vik — who cared about their family’s health and were looking for alternatives to conventional fast food. Vik was half right, she says. Yes, these moms comprise a decent part of her business. But what surprised Vik is the store’s increasing popularity with populations she hadn’t considered, students and area businesses.
Students are choosing Naked Pizza to cater sports and school events, and businesses to cater meetings and events of all kinds. Overall, there seems to be a desire out there for cleaner, healthier food, Vik says.
Naked Pizza pies are made from whole foods starting with the crust made from an Ancestral Blend of 10 grains plus prebiotic (fiber) agave and probiotics (good bacteria for digestive health like the ones found in yogurt).
The blend includes oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, teff, spelt, tapioca, and two kinds of wheat. The tomato sauce has no added sugar or citric acid; the meats and cheeses are free of growth hormones and antibiotics; and none of the ingredients contain additives, fructose, corn syrup, or hydrogenated oil.
Vik became interested in owning a Naked Pizza franchise after reading an article about the cofounders in the New York Times. Soon after, she and her husband flew to New Orleans to meet the company team.
Vik said she liked Naked Pizza’s mission to serve the public an affordably priced, healthy version of this popular but often unhealthy fast food. But the mission wasn’t enough. If the pizza didn’t taste good, said Vik, the deal was off. So she put the pizza to the taste test. It passed with flying colors, and she returned to Princeton with development rights for all of Mercer, Middlesex, Essex, Union, and Hudson counties.
When you visit Naked Pizza, you’ll find that all pizzas are made to order based on your choice from three specialty menus: favorites, classics, and chef-inspired.
If none of the 14 offerings from these menus suit your fancy, you can create your own pizza. First you choose the crust, the 10-grain ancestral blend or gluten-free, and next the sauce: red, white, BBQ, or pesto. All pizzas come with mozzarella cheese. For toppings, you can choose among 20 vegetables, five meats, and six cheeses, plus a dairy-free alternative.
The menu also includes salads and sides. Beverages include a variety of sodas and most do not contain high-fructose corn syrup. Recently, the shop added two new menu items: cinnamon swirls and calzones.
Customers can order online or at the Princeton store. Pick up or delivery is available, and there is a small seating area at the shop. Create-your-own pizzas range from $7.99 to $11.99; Favorites and Chef Inspired options range from $12.99 to $22.99.
“People are becoming more interested in healthy eating and more educated about the ingredients in their food,” says Vik. “I think that’s a positive reflection on our culture.”
Naked Pizza, 180 Nassau Street, Princeton. 609-924-4700. nakedpizza.biz/locations/princeton. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 to 2 a.m. See ad, page 23.