Kono Pizza aims to reshape Berkeley pizza landscape

Aren Saunders-Gonzalez/Staff

Related Posts

Berkeley community members will be able to eat pizza from a cone at 2282 Fulton St. within the next month.

Kono Pizza is a chain that offers a variety of cones, or “kones,” that range from traditional pepperoni and chicken parmesan to desserts such as Nutella and cannoli cones. Certain flavors available are also unique to location; for example, the Pennsylvania State University location sells cheesesteak cones.

“We wanted something portable and we wanted to keep the quality of the pizza intact,” said Carlo Ruggiero, co-founder and co-CEO of Kono USA. He added that the cones were a combination of pizza and ice cream, “two favorites from around the world.” Kono Pizza actually originated in Italy in 2004, but Ruggiero and David Ragosa, his business partner, brought it to the United States in about 2013.

According to Ruggiero, the cones are layered with sauce, cheese and toppings in a vertical fashion before being cooked in a trademark oven. The cones are made to order, because the oven can cook a cone in just 180 seconds.

In addition to the concept of portable cone-shaped pizza and speedy service, a unique aspect of Kono Pizza is its use of imported dough and sauces from Italy. Kono Pizza’s site promotes the cones’ lack of messiness, condensation and grease, highlighting the quality of ingredients used.

“Our cones were created to provide consumers with authentic Italian pizza made from only high-quality ingredients, with mobility in mind! After decades of devouring countless slices of triangle or square-cut pizza, American consumers are about to experience a progressive new way to enjoy their favorite Italian dish,” Kono says on its website. “We have a menu of cones for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, to ensure our customers keep coming back all day.”

Kono Pizza holds 15 established locations in the United States. Kono Pizza locations are strategically placed in high-pedestrian areas, such as airports or amusement parks. Ruggiero attributes Kono Pizza’s success in the United States to the uniqueness of its product and the team’s experience in the franchise industry.

According to Ruggiero, the company is taking proximity to schools into account in its marketing strategy, making Berkeley an ideal location. He added that he hopes that Kono Pizza will change the way Americans eat pizza.

“We truly believe it’s a great area,” Ruggiero said. “We want it to be an enjoyable experience — friendly and clean.”

Mark Yatabe, beverage director of neighboring business Great China, said Kono Pizza will not be a competition. Local pizza businesses are also not concerned about competition.

Ron Demirdjian, owner of Arinell Pizza, said: “We’ve been a locally open pizza business since 1976. Pizza places come and go; they don’t affect our business at all.”

Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.