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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza

This past weekend, I stopped at the Garden Factory in Gates, where every weekend in October they're doing a "Fall Family Fun" event, with rides and activities for the kiddies and other attractions. The main draw for me was the presence of Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza, a local entrepreneur who appears at various events around the area with his truck trailer that contains a working wood-fired pizza oven.
The owner (who goes by the name "Tony Tomato" - he's the guy wearing the pizza-shaped chef's hat) does this primarily to advertise his business installing wood-fired ovens for both private individuals and restaurants. I doubt that he makes much profit just from selling the pizza, when you consider the expense involved in trucking this thing around, getting it fired up,  and so on.
But even if you're not in the market for a $2500 wood-fired oven on your patio, the TWFP trailer is worth checking out for the pizza. It's pretty good stuff.
Several menu items were available, but all I was interested in was the pizza. From the choices of cheese, pepperoni, and pesto, I went with pepperoni. All were the same size, about the circumference of a standard paper plate, as you can see in the photo.
My pie had a thin crust, nicely charred along the edges. The well floured bottom was not charred, and the slices were quite pliable, suggesting that perhaps the floor of the oven was not tremendously hot. Tony rotated the pie several times to get the edge charred, thanks to the radiant heat of the fire, and the air inside the oven was clearly hot enough to melt, and slightly brown, the cheese in only about three minutes (that would be convective heat, I think), but the conductive heat of the floor or deck of the oven, while high enough to bake the crust, wasn't so high as to char it or turn it super crisp. Perhaps the raw flour on the underside of the pie also acted as a heat barrier too.
That's not a criticism, just a description. I like my crusts crisp, but from some things that I've read, pizza in Naples - which is as authentic as it gets - is quite pliable and is typically eaten with a knife and fork. (And some of that has to do with the type of flour that's used as well, I think - some flours will brown and char more easily than others.) So whether a pliable or very firm crust is "better" comes down largely to a matter of personal preference.
My pie was topped with a moderate layer of herb-tinged tomato sauce, and a nicely melted top layer of creamy mozzarella. The components were well balanced, and this was an easy pie to consume.
Tony uses gas to get his oven started, then from there keeps it going with hardwoods like applewood. He told me that his laser thermometer measured the oven temperature at around 900 degrees, though I'm not sure what part of the oven that's measuring.
I'd love one of these ovens in my back yard, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. Until that changes, I'll be happy with my home oven, and with visits to local pizzerias, including Tony Tomato's mobile operation. This was good enough to rate a B+ from me.
Tuscan Wood Fired Pizza Catering, Webster, NY 545-6305
Check his Facebook page for upcoming public events.

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