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Fast Food

Can Domino's win over Italians in the birthplace of pizza?

This is a country that has just put its Neapolitan pizza up for UNESCO World Heritage status, so it may seem quite bold for Domino's to be moving into the Italian market, but it has already done so.

Managers at one of its two branches in Milan say that after careful market research, they decided there was a niche for them to move into.

It turns out Italians have some issues with service in the birthplace of pizza.

"It's not just about making pizza, it's about service, about people."

"I am talking specifically about delivery.  Not a hot pizza and not a good pizza, " said franchise manager Alessandro Lazzaroni.  He has opened two Domino's stores in Milan and hopes to have close to a dozen up and running before the end of the year, in Milan alone.

His marketing manager, Alessandra Provasi says, "There are a lot of consumers saying , 'awesome, finally Domino's is here in Italy.  We want to try garlic bread, we want to try awesome sauces, we want to try barbeque chicken.  What's the point to open Domino's if we cannot put chicken on pizza?"

But despite Italians' willingness to try out things like ham and pineapple pizza, it's really the American service model they like, according to team Domino's here--ordering online and tracking orders.

At lunchtime in one of the stores in Milan, we saw a steady stream of customers come through.  Some had been drawn in out of curiosity, others-- who appeared to be foreigners-- knew the brand from around the world. Others had stopped in because it happened to be open during their lunch break.

Says pizza maker and trainer Cecilia Bianucci, who completed her Domino's training in Florida,  "It's an experience, a full experience in my opinion.  It's not just about making pizza, it's about service, about people."

It may be an American chain that is churning out the pies, but they're still being made by Italians-- with Italian ingredients.

On the streets of Milan, the jury is still out on how much of a hit Domino's really is.   One woman who had recently tried it out with her daughter said, "Domino's is strange pizza, but we like it."

While Domino's is expanding fast in Milan, it plans to dip its toe into other markets more cautiously. So it may be a while before the Neapolitan pizza kings have a chance to dine and opine on ham and pineapple pizza.

Amy Kellogg currently serves as a Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent based in Milan, Italy. She joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999 as a Moscow-based correspondent. Follow her on Twitter: @amykelloggfox