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Punchy’s Pizza: A lifetime of heritage in 90 seconds

Punchy’s Pizza co-owner Aaron Marchi talks about his custom-built volcanic-brick oven on the back of the food truck. Marchi said after he gets the oven up to 900 degrees, he can cook a pizza in 90 seconds. (Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

RIO RANCHO – It’s almost noon as Punchy’s Pizza co-owner Aaron Marchi begins to build a fire in his custom-built volcanic-brick pizza oven.

It’s not just the oven that makes Punchy’s unique; this roaming business brings new meaning to hot, fresh pizza delivery by actually cooking its cuisine in front of customers in a matter of seconds.

“After I get the oven to about 800 to 900 degrees, I can cook the pizza in 90 seconds,” Marchi said.

Marchi, a descendant of Italian immigrants, said he had an idea to serve the food he grew up with to try to stay close to his heritage.

“My grandfather was from Milan, Italy,” he said. “In the ’30s, he immigrated to Chicago, where he became a cook. That’s where the food part of our history began.”

At the same time he was cooking, Marchi said, his grandfather, Giordano, was a Golden Gloves boxer, where he got his nickname Punchy.

“He had 80 undefeated bouts in the Chicago area,” Marchi said. “My grandfather was old-school; he was a tough guy and he’s the reason behind the name of the business. This was my way of honoring him.”

Punchy’s Pizza co-owner Aaron Marchi tosses pizza dough in the back of the food truck. (Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

A few years later, he said, Giordano moved to Los Alamos during the days of the atomic bomb.

“Later on, he moved to Albuquerque and brought us grandkids down with him,” he said.

Marchi said he spent time with his grandfather learning how to make the spaghetti and pizza his family would have every Sunday as a weekly tradition.

“In fact, the sauce we use on the food truck is his recipe, which is a trade secret,” Marchi said.

With a little under a year in business, he has plans for expansion.

“We’ve been doing well, and right now we are planning on expanding to a bigger bus with a rooftop access,” he said. “We will be expanding the menu as well, to salads and pasta, more than just pizza.”

For now, the success of Punchy’s has been based on its unique brick-oven pizzas and ability to roam around Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

Since Punchy’s tours local breweries, Marchi said he likes to take whatever IPA (India Pale Ale) that brewery makes and infuse it in the dough to offer an even more one-of-a-kind pizza experience for whatever location the food truck is visiting.

“Another authentic thing I like to do is toss the dough for each pizza,” he said. “Each spin makes it rounder and gives the dough a better consistency.”

Marchi said he only burns oak in his unique oven, which customers can witness as he stands in front of the flame holding a homemade peel, a long handle with a flat stainless-steel plate attached.

“I have been doing this as kind of a retirement thing, but it’s caught on well and I am excited to see what we can do in the future,” he said.

For more information, go to punchys.biz.

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