Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hroadtrips: Coal-fired pizza in Michigan

During a lengthy discussion on the state of pizza in Ann Arbor, I related a story about childhood trips to a pizza place in Johnstown, PA. The secret was a coal oven which yielded an amazing crust. If there's a downside, the high temperature sort of limits toppings to those of a less flammable makeup. Anyway, a quick google yields a review of Tomatoes Apizza by the Serious Eats blog.

So...we took a drive.

Lots of potential here. However, trouble with the coal oven competes with customers unfamiliar with the product, i.e. "my pizza is burnt!". Reminds me of the risotto scene in Big Night, "Does this come with a side of pasta?"

Coal oven pizza is not so much baked as rescued. In my view, if its not smoldering, its not done right. And these guys do a fine job if left to do it. This is the sort of pizza to get with the least embellishment. Try cheese, fresh garlic and have them toss some basil on after its trip in the oven. I should have known better than to order pepperoni, which goes through a shrinking (and toughening) process in the blaze. A thinner cut means you get bacon bits instead.

Small deliveries of coal are not the norm these days. That coupled with the marketing challenges may mean that they will not be able to educate their customers fast enough to make the hassle worth it. Caveat gustor.


At 11:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arcadia Brewery in Battle Creek has awesome wood fired pizza! Even better with their beer :)


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