Nemec Brothers Pizzeria opens in Geneva

Nemec Brothers Pizzeria, from the owners of ZaZas Pizzeria Chicago, will be opening early December 2023 at 317 W. State Street in downtown Geneva.

GENEVA – New York-style pizza has arrived in Geneva. Nemec Brothers Pizzeria, 317 W. State St., opened Dec. 1.

Brett Nemec, 27, is the executive chef behind the specialty pizza and his brother, Chadd Nemec, 32, is the business manager, said their mother, Sue Gambla, who with her husband, also are co-owners.

The new pizzeria occupies the former location of Osterio Bigolaro, which closed earlier this year.

It is the family’s second restaurant location. They also own Zaza’s Pizzeria in Chicago.

Gambla said they chose Geneva for their second location because of its family feeling.

“Geneva is sort of like a make-believe Hallmark town with beautiful restaurants and family events,” Gambla said. “It’s quaint. We’re a family business and we’re all about family. And Geneva is all about family and family events.”

The family had lived in Warrenville and was familiar with Geneva’s downtown, Gambla said.

The difference between New York and Chicago pizza is the thinness of the crust and how it’s cut.

Gambla said Chicago style pizza has a thicker crust while New York style is thinner. Chicago pizza is cut into squares while New York style is cut in big triangles. New Yorkers eat the pizza with the big triangle folded over, she said.

“The slices are larger and it’s crispy,” she said.

“Our dough is slow-fermented for a minimum of 48 hours, giving it a complex flavor profile and better digestibility. Our recipe is high in hydration levels and uses a pre-ferment, resulting in a lighter, airier and crispier pizza,” Gambla wrote in a text message.

The Geneva location and Chicago restaurant use the same ingredients: Stanislaus California plum tomatoes, Grande whole milk mozzarella, premium high-gluten flour made from hard red spring wheat and imported Sicilian olive oil. Each pie is finished with the restaurant’s signature infused garlic rosemary olive oil and Maldon flaky salt, she wrote. Pizzas will be fired in a 575-degree electric deck oven.

Brett started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher at age 16, his mother said.

“I told him being a dishwasher was not an easy job. I think in his mind it was like doing dishes at home,” Gambla said. “He came home, ‘I hate this job. It’s really hard.’ But he worked hard and fell in love with the cooking and he went to culinary school at College of DuPage.”

Before owning the restaurant, Brett had been executive chef at Santo Cielo in Naperville, she said.

“And he brings that fine dining to our shop,” Gambla said.

Chadd, an entrepreneur who has owned several businesses, is contributing his leadership to the pizzeria as the business manager, she said.

“Nobody in the family was in the restaurant business,” Gambla said. “I was not a very good cook raising my boys, so we always had pizza.”