NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Dominic Morano runs the iconic Prince Street Pizza in SoHo for his dad Frank, whose anger is piping hot over an employee who left this shop after seven years to work at another pizza shop on the Upper West Side. The Moranos claim he had the nerve to take the recipe for this Signature Spicy Pepperoni Square with him, reports CBS2’s Dave Carlin. So the elder Morano is set to sue, and the son is trying to keep the peace in an escalating pizza war. “The litigation is pending and will take care of itself,” said Dominic. “I can’t talk about it.”
CBS2 “caught up with” the ex-employee who is now at Made in New York Pizza on Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. Frank Badali says he did not steal anything. “It’s not the same recipe,” said Badali. “It’s upgraded.”
A lawyer for Prince Street Pizza did not immediately respond to CBS2’s emails and calls for comment, but the case may come down to whether the recipe is protected and just how similar the pizzas actually are.
Taste tests on pepperoni squares from both shops drew a variety of reactions from discriminating eaters.
“I think it’s different,” said Darren Rogers comparing the slices.
“I think I gotta give it to Made in New York,” said another taster.
“I think this is better, Prince Street,” said Griffin Rocco of Warren, N.J.
Cases involving chef-versus-chef can be tough, said Barry Heyman, an intellectual property attorney. “They’re difficult to protect,” he said. “They would have to have an agreement in place.”
Recipes cannot be patented, copyrighted, or trademarked, said Heyman. A non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement would had to have been included in the employee’s work contract.
“All is fair in love and pizza, right?” said Bonnie Holzer of the Upper West Side. She says both pizza places getting publicity out of this row, so anyway you slice this fight, it’s a win win. One might also ask what damage having similar tasting foods might do to restaurants that are some distance from each other.