A Different Kind of Pizza at Pizzeria Florian

By Christa Glennie

Published on | Last Updated

Pizza as craft is more than simply loving pizza, though love may be at its root. It is a singular obsession, a driving and indefatigable focus on perfecting techniques and ingredients. Pizza as craft is a place where science and art do more than intersect — they samba. 

Jay Langfelder and Amanda Jones may know this better than most. The couple brought Buffalo its first legit Neapolitan-style pizza, beginning with OG Woodfire, a food truck outfitted with a woodfire oven. Next came the launch of Jay’s Artisan Pizza in Kenmore, an international pizza mecca they sold to former staffer Joe Powers, who steers that mighty ship on its charted path with grace and skill since taking the helm a few years ago. 

Amanda Jones and partner Jay Langfelder are owners of Pizzeria Florian which opened at 650 Main St. in East Aurora, NY, at the beginning of February / Photo by Sharon Cantillon

Jones and Langfelder, now long known for their pizza prowess, returned to Buffalo a short while ago after a lively stint in Savannah, where they learned that Southern hospitality is legit, but good neighborliness and a community of pizza lovers is home. Upon their return to Western New York, the pair settled near East Aurora and saw an opportunity to bring a different kind of pizza to the quaint village 20 miles outside of Buffalo. 

Jones is the captain of Pizzeria Florian, which opened its doors to a crush of enthusiastic customers in mid-February. Langfelder supports the operation with prep work and service but maintains a full-time off-site job. The vision for Pizzeria Florian is too detailed to flesh out in full here, but it all rests on a new-fangled pizza dough engineered by Langfelder. 

Pizzeria Florian’s 14” pies are made with a crust that offers all the flavor of a Neapolitan pizza with the sturdiness of the pizza found in a New York City slice joint. It also has a level of crispness that ensures a Florian pizza will be just as good after the car ride home as it is straight from the oven in the restaurant’s dining room. This balance took practice and the kind of inside-out understanding of dough that Langfelder, former owner of a project called the Pizza Lab, gets like few others. 

“We came up with this style because we liked how Neapolitan pizza takes super well to local, seasonal ingredients,” says Langfelder. “We knew we wanted to use produce from farmers. We also really like the texture and the crispness of New York-style pizza, but as you know, sometimes people don’t want to eat the outside crust (handle) because it can be too dry. The new crust has flavor and a nice crackly exterior, but it’s not dry.”

In addition to the new dough, Jones is excited about the pizza’s flavor profiles.

“We’re a little looser these days,” she says, referencing the strict standards and rules used to create traditional Neapolitan pizza. “Our Calabrian Crunch is a good example. We’re using cup ‘n’ char pepperoni,” she continues, “and we’re making blue cheese dipping sauce. The flexibility with toppings has opened doors for our creativity.”

“We’re still supporting local farms,” says Langfelder. “It’s not the best season for produce right now, but we’re making a salad with beets from Plato Dale and using Thorpe’s citrus. This aspect of the menu will grow as we come into the spring. But quality matters to us. With many things, that means local and seasonal, and with some things, we have to go a little farther afield.” He cites several top-notch imported products, including cheeses like Bianco Sardo (a more nuanced and richer cousin of pecorino), 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano, and DOP fontal, an Italian fontina with a protected designation of origin (or Denominazione di Origine Protetta).

In addition to Florian’s half-dozen rotating signature pies — including a Cacio e Pepe pizza and the Calabrian Crunch, which sports Bianco Di Napoli tomato sauce, cup ‘n’ char pepperoni, stracciatella, Calabrian chili crunch, honey, fresh basil, and Parmigiano Reggiano — guests can concoct any pie they wish by selecting from the list of toppings at the bottom of the menu. Other offerings include small plates, like warm olives, salads, antipasti, and dessert, in addition to a smart wine and beer list. 

Since opening, Pizzeria Florian has been mobbed, utterly and totally. And the fanfare isn’t just from locals. In June 2024, just months after opening, Pizzeria Florian debuted at No. 44 on 50 Top Pizza’s list of the best pizzerias in the US. Jones and Langfelder are thrilled with the support. Soon, online ordering will be available, and as the buzz calms down a bit, we know the team continues to strive toward meeting the expectations of guests who come from near and far for Jones and Langfelder’s notable pies. 

“We’re so happy to be back. It feels like we picked up where we left off! It’s been so amazing to see guests we’ve known forever and new faces, too,” says Jones. 

Lead photo by Sharon Cantillon

Pizzeria Florian
650 Main St, East Aurora, NY

Christa Glennie headshot

Christa Glennie

Christa is the food editor at Buffalo Spree magazine, a freelance writer for Food + Wine, among others, and a full-time copywriter. She is also the author of two regional cookbooks.