Today we got a chance to sit down with RJ Ingerson the owner of Mama Q’s pizza located on Old St Augustine road in Mandarin. We’ve become big fans of Mama Q’s pizza over the past few months so we thought maybe we’d pick RJ’s brain about what goes into making a great pizza.
You’d think with all the pizzas you make that you’d get burnt out on eating pizza. Could you eat pizza every day for the rest of your life?
Oh yes! I love pizza (and do eat it everyday). There are so many combinations and flavors that it is very difficult for pizza to get “boring” at least for me. I might be the exception because I have such a passion for pizza it’s borderline scary 🙂
Have you always wanted to be a pizza baker?
Yes. I started in the pizza industry as a delivery driver back in ’94 and had so much fun with it. I just love being around pizza and the excitement you feel when it’s busy. My family and I have such a desire to create the best tasting pizza in Jacksonville at affordable prices and I think we got that.
What does pizza mean to you or symbolize to you?
Family and friends. When you eat a pizza chances are it is with someone you are very close to. A good pizza brings people and families together and that is awesome.
Who is the real life Mama Q?
My wife Dominique is Mama Q. Her nickname growing up was Q, and when we were first opening back in August of 13 she was pregnant with our son. Because she was pregnant we said what better name than Mama Q’s (so the pizza has to be good because it has my wife’s name on the building). We call our son lower case Q :).
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
I like plain cheese. I always say if a pizza place can make a good cheese pizza (the basics) the rest of the pizzas are probably going to be good as well. I also really enjoy bacon.
What kind of cheese do you use? How important is the type of cheese to making a superior pizza?
Mama Q’s Pizza uses nothing but 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin. The cheese we use is considered the best pizza cheese in the industry. It is an all-natural cheese made without any additives, fillers, colors or preservatives. Our whole milk cheese is harvested every day from farms that have received a 5-star certification from the milk and dairy beef quality assurance program, which is the highest level of quality that can be achieved. Because we use the best we never blend it with lower quality cheeses. To me using the most quality cheese really brings out the flavor of the pizza. Yes it cost us more but our customers can really taste and enjoy the difference.
Mama Q’s Mashed Potato Pie is one of the most interesting and tasty pizzas in Jax. How did you come up with it and perfect it?
When we first opened we were at the test kitchen trying out different recipes. One of the partners noticed some mashed potatoes and just for fun tried to create a loaded baked potato. The result was pure pizza goodness. We were hooked right away. It has our Olive Oil and garlic base with mashed potatoes, green onions, bacon and cheddar cheese.
What do you think are the most underrated pizza toppings?
Bacon: I don’t think bacon gets it’s due. It is just so tasty with the juices and the flavor and the crunchiness as well as the smell as it is coming out of the oven. I could put bacon on everything. Pound for pound to me best topping.
Cheese: When I go to a pizza place the first thing I order is a cheese pizza. It is basic but it allows me to see how good they do the basics. If they can make a tasty cheese pizza then the rest of the pizzas and toppings are probably going to be good as well :).
What’s the difference between a great pizza place and everybody else?
Great question. I think it is a combination of great pizza and community involvement. Our walls in our dining room were painted by the Mandarin High School art students. A portion of our sales goes to feeding the hungry in Northeast Florida. We also volunteer at local school events and we’ve worked with the Boy Scouts and the Fire Department. When you reach out to the community that takes good care of us that is a recipe for a great pizza place.
We get told all the time how good our pizza is and it makes us feel really good because that was the whole point of Mama Q’s Pizza – to be different from the chain delivery places. Yes, it costs us more to get the freshest ingredients, but the Mama Q’s family wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any tips for people who want to make a delicious pizza at home?
Get dough that has high gluten for elasticity. It will allow you to shape the dough A good sauce and cheese is also important.
The owner is right the mashed potatoe pizza is by far my favorite. When you walk in you instantly feel welcomed. It’s filled with such great happy employees that make you feel closer with him and feel welcomed and great to be there.