The owners of the new MidiCi restaurant are hoping to make a lot of friends in Modesto. And they’re not above friendly bribes of free pizza to get them.
MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company opens this weekend at Vintage Faire Mall with a pizza giveaway for all who like its social media page. The restaurant expands the northwest Modesto mall’s dining options with a brick-oven pizza experience in an open, bistro-like setting complete with a live ficus tree inside.
The Walling family is opening the restaurant, a franchise from the MidiCi chain, which has several dozen restaurants across the United States. The new restaurant concept, which launched in 2015, gives customers a “fast-fine” dining experience where they order at the counter, watch their food be prepared in the heart of the open kitchen, and then have it delivered to their tables.
Steve and Donna Walling and their three adult sons — John, David and Michael — are opening and running the restaurant together. The younger Wallings have all moved from Orange County in the past year to Modesto to oversee the site’s construction and management. After retiring from a 30-year career in the oil business, Steve Walling said, he was looking for a project for the whole family. They also have signed on to open two more MidiCi restaurants, likely in Southern California.
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They decided to open the Modesto restaurant first because of the mall’s hospitality and prime location. The 3,300-square-foot restaurant, in the site of the old Bebe clothing boutique next to the Apple store, has seating inside for more than 70 and will have an outdoor patio for around 25.
At the center of the restaurant is its gold-tiled brick oven, which can cook a pizza in 90 seconds. The gas-fired oven, instead of traditionally wood-fired, runs at about 800 degrees and can fit a dozen pizzas at a time. The dough and sauce are made from scratch daily using imported Italian, non-GMO, double-zero flour and tomatoes. The Neapolitan-style pizza pays homage to the birthplace of modern pizza — Naples, Italy.
“This is not Domino’s, this is not Pizza Hut. This is high-end feeling,” Steve Walling said of the new eatery.
The chain’s name comes from the Italian phrase “midi ci,” which means “Tell me,” as in “Tell me what you want.” The company, which has several dozen restaurants across the United States, has friendliness built into its motto and painted onto its back wall, which reads, “People are the best thing that can happen to anyone.”
The menu includes about 18 styles of pizza, and diners can also customize their orders to their taste. Each individually-sized 12-inch pizza is more than enough for dinner. Specialty pizzas include everything from a shrimp scampi to egg and bacon, truffle and prosciutto pizza to chicken pesto. And, don’t worry, there’s also pepperoni and even double-pepperoni for the more traditional pie lovers. Pizzas start at $9.95 and run up to $14.95 for those truffle lovers among us.
But if you aren’t in the mood for a slice, the menu also features paninis, entree salads and several shared and small plate options. These include traditional Italian favorites like housemade meatballs and Burrata cheese with melon and prosciutto. Wash it all down with a wide beer and wine selection, which includes 10 on-tap brews.
So, how do you get yourself a free pizza? Go to MidiCi’s Facebook or Instagram feeds and like the pages. Then come in anytime Saturday and Sunday during its opening weekend celebrations and claim your free margherita pizza (that’s tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil).
MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company, in the Vintage Faire Mall at 3401 Dale Road in Modesto, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 209-416-3004 or visit mymidici.com.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
If you’re looking for more free stuff, check out the grand opening of Modesto’s newest Family Dollar store.
The discount chain store will open its fifth location in Modesto on Thursday, Jan. 17, which will include giveaways and prizes. Then there will be a follow-up opening celebration Saturday, Jan. 19, which will include Family Dollar gift cards to the first 50 customers.
The new Family Dollar fills the old Smart & Final space in downtown Modesto at 801 Ninth St. For more information, visit www.familydollar.com.