V3 Flatbread Pizza, a fast casual dining concept much like the Chipotle version of pizza, has opened a new shop in the heart of Lawrenceville. This is the second shop for V3 which debuted its first location on Fifth Avenue downtown last year. The owners are now priming themselves for rapid franchise expansion.

V3 gives customers the option to build their own flatbread with unlimited toppings, or choose from a menu, all for $8. The process works like this: you pick a pre-baked crust, make selections from a wide variety of sauces and fresh vegetable toppings, then add meats and cheeses. After baking just over two minutes, the pie is ready for finishing options such as fresh basil, salts, oils or even a balsamic glaze.

The long, rectangular flatbread pies cut easily into 8 pieces. They’re served up in long boxes ready for dining in or taking out.

“We pride ourselves on buying local and changing produce seasonally,” says Varol Ablak, developer of the V3 concept and owner of the 250-store Vocelli Pizza franchise. He’s quick to point out that the product is a little different with a forward-thinking health-conscious menu “including much more of an organic selection when it comes to vegetables, vegan choices, cage-free eggs, gluten-free crust and topping options.”

The first V3 in Downtown Pittsburgh won a Silver Badge from the Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants program last year for its positive impact on local farmers and nutrition.

V3’s Flatbread Pizza. Photo: Tom O’Connor.
V3’s Flatbread Pizza. Photo: Tom O’Connor.

A big draw among customers is the ability to choose from so many different items and, like Subway, customize how much or little of an item you want to add. Flatbreads are “hand-tossed” using a family dough recipe for a sturdy, crunchy and thin crust.

V3 also offers a menu of salads including a Garlic Chicken Salad, a Vegetarian Antipasto and a Garden Salad, all at the same $8 price point.

Albak said reactions among Lawrenceville residents so far have been really positive. A sneak preview with free flatbread pizzas offered all day during the first week of November before its grand opening had “lines all day, sometimes out the door and down the block.”

V3 Flatbread Pizza’s new Lawrenceville location. Photo: V3 Flatbread Pizza.
V3 Flatbread Pizza’s new Lawrenceville location. Photo: V3 Flatbread Pizza.

V3 is hoping to benefit from what it says is an upward trend in fast-casual dining options. “We are in the franchise business” says Albak. “Our goal is to get a lot of candidates coming in and experiencing the store. We’ve had interest across the country from people eager for the concept to come closer to them.”

Much of the interest has been centered on the Chipotle/Subway model with a pizza twist. In addition to Pittsburgh, V3 is currently looking at potential expansion to Washington D.C., Denver and Miami as well as other areas nationwide.

Tom O'Connor

Tom O'Connor is a photographer and writer currently based in Pittsburgh.