Charred Crust and the Marketplace

I see many Internet photos of NY and Neapolitan pizzas that exhibit leoparding and considerable charring. This char is considered desirable by many forum members and is caused primarily by the intense heat of the ovens in which they were cooked. I think they look great.

However, I’m concerned that pizzas served out here in California with even minor amounts of char would be returned by customers complaining that their pizza was “burned.” Most of the pizzas served here have an anemic blonde crust–not a good thing, I know, but that is what people have become accustomed. Do any readers have marketplace experience regarding the serving and acceptance/rejection of “charred” crusts?

As I see it, there are two issues with char on pizza crust. One is that for some people, they consider it to be burned, or over baked when they see char. This was very true in Chicago when wood fired oven first came to the Windy City in the late 70’s. This has been largely over come through education, but a harder sell is the fact that char produces chemical pompounds that are considered to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Isn’t everything bad for you in one way or another? Go figure!
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

We have charred crust from time to time and some customers think we have a wood fired oven, not a gas conveyor because of it. We have had customers come into the shop who normally get deliveries and are surprised to see a non wood fired oven, thinking that they had been getting pizzas from one all the time.
Other times people tell us that their pizza was burnt.
Is it good or bad to have charring?
Who knows.

We have found over the years that generally most customers don’t like a lot of char on their pizza, especially if they have children. Those that do tend to order it well done. I think this applies to take out pizza’s more than eat in bistro type places.