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why wouldn't a pizzeria sell me their dough?

today i came across some super fragrant basil, lovely cherry tomatoes, salumi, and mozzarella, thinking i could make a lovely pizza. but with no time to make my own, i thought i'd just buy some. i called one pizzeria near my apartment (mission district of san francisco) and was told, "nnnoooo..we DON'T sell our dough." walked past another nearby and the same thing happened. i got some from a local branch of a mini-chain here, and am about to tuck into my pizza. my question is: why not sell dough? i know that it is FAR from unheard of to pick up dough from a local pizzeria, they still make some money off of basically flour, water, yeast, salt, and maybe a bit of oil, so...why not?

the first place i tried i find a bit pretentious, but it's right around the corner. the second is a fledgling business that i figure could use extra money of any sort while getting on its legs, and the third that sold it to me is, as i said, a local chain.

any pizza people out there want to weigh in on why i should reasonably expect a restaurant to refuse to sell me a ball of dough?

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  1. Once saw a sign at a pizza place, "the bank don't make pizza, and we don't cash checks." By the same token, pizza places sell pizzas, not dough. Buy dough from the grocery store.

    1. "why i should reasonably expect a restaurant to refuse to sell me a ball of dough?"

      I don't think this is a reasonable expectation. They aren't in the business of selling raw dough. They are in the business of selling fully cooked pizzas that they make according to their specifications and in their specific oven. They don't have control over the finished product if you are rolling out the dough at home, putting your own toppings on it, and baking it in your non-commercial oven, thus, they won't sell you the raw dough.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jen76

        yeah, i get it, but i know this is not an unheard of request. what i mean is that there seems to be almost a tradition of pizzerias selling dough to customers. maybe its a regional thing. you even see tv food personalities suggesting that you ask your local pizza joint to sell you dough for a quick dinner. i understand that they are in the business of selling pizza, not pizza dough, but for a few bucks i don't see why not. i don't see it being quite the same as walking into a steakhouse and asking to buy a raw, dry-aged porterhouse. it's more like...well here in sf there are two branches of a sausage grill called rosamunde's where you can buy their sausages raw to take home and cook yourself. and again, i know i'm far from the only person asking around for dough.

        1. re: augustiner

          "but i know this is not an unheard of request. what i mean is that there seems to be almost a tradition of pizzerias selling dough to customers. maybe its a regional thing. you even see tv food personalities suggesting that you ask your local pizza joint to sell you dough for a quick dinner."

          Hmm, I have never heard of such a thing. The closest I've ever come to this was when I was in college and my mom would bring me frozen, par-baked pizzas from a local pizzeria from the town where I grew up. We had been going there from the time he first opened and had 6 tables, and we knew the owner by name. My mom told him I had moved out of state for school to a pizza-barren locale and he offered. They still weren't as good baked in my apartment oven, but it was better than what I could find here.

          1. re: Jen76

            Out here on Long Island, NY, there is a pizza joint on every block. I can (and often do) walk into any number of them to buy dough. Never had a problem. Pizza place may be in the business of selling pizza, but they will still sell you soda, garlic knots, a salad. As long as they put a healthy markup on the dough, they shouldn't mind selling it. I can understand if it might throw off availablity later at night, but I'd think this is a negligible risk.

      2. It's not at all an unheard of request- in fact I have friends who do it weekly. I've purchased dough from small pizza parlors in a couple states I've lived in no problem. Could just be that it's proprietary and they don't want to share or maybe it's not factored in to daily count when prepping. Who knows. I just keep instant yeast on hand to make a quick dough as I've found the grocery store stuff fairly unpalatable and chemically tasting. I too have a number of cookbooks that recommend picking up dough locally if you're not in to making it yourself but I guess some of the smaller places in your city aren't down with that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ankm2

          I've heard of it too. My assumption, though, would be that you can't just walk into any pizza parlor and ask them to sell you their ingredients, any more than you'd go in and ask for some basil. They've got to already be in the business of selling raw dough/sauce to go/what have you. Some are, some aren't.

        2. Why not just order a pizza and tell them not to cook it?

          3 Replies
          1. re: beevod

            Sounds good. Just order an uncooked cheese pizza and then put your own toppings on it.

              1. re: beevod

                When I worked at pizzerias back in college we weren't allowed to sell uncooked pizzas, something to do with local health regulations and liability issues. We would occasionally partially cook a pie so the customer could finish it in their own oven, but completely raw was a no-no.

              2. here in NYC I have no problem buying dough, and i wouldn;t dream of doing it from a chain -
                as to why not but an uncooked pizza - because the point is to use your own sauce &tc....