“The main goal is not to open up like mushrooms,” says Maurizio Grillo, the NYPD partner who came here directly from Tuscany. “Most people hear ‘franchise’ and they think it’s some big corporation, but this is just small, just our family.” The other two NYPD / Uncle D’s partners, Grillo’s cousins Mauro and Domenico Telemaco, used to own a pizza joint in New York and came to Ann Arbor to start the business in 1997 at the behest of Domenico’s then-girlfriend, now-wife, Erin.
Reggie Kaji (pronounced “Cagey”), the manager at Tippins, says it took about four months to turn what used to be the deli counter into a pizza bakery (a slightly stripped-down version of the deli counter now lives on the other side of the store). “Spicy Medi¬terranean [chicken, feta cheese, and artichokes] is by far the best-selling pie,” says Kaji. “Myself, I just like pepperoni. I’m not big on a lot of toppings.” The pizza operation, including the seating area, takes up 1,400 square feet. “We had the seating area before,” he says, “but now we have more people sitting in it.”
Uncle D’s at Tippins, 4845 Ann Arbor–Saline Road, 665–1111. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. noon–9 p.m. (party store opens earlier).
[Originally published in December, 2008.]