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Pizza place embraces spirit of cuisine of Naples
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Pizza place embraces spirit of cuisine of Naples

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Mission Pizza Napoletana opened Friday at 707 N. Trade St., fulfilling a 6-year dream of owner Peyton Smith.

"It's awesome," Smith said during a test run of the kitchen for friends and family last week. "It's kind of crazy right now, but it feels good."

Since 2010, Smith, 38, has run Forno Moto, a catering business fueled by a 1,200-pound mobile, wood-fired pizza oven.

But the reason Smith got into catering was that he had been frustrated in his efforts to start a restaurant. He began planning for a restaurant in 2007, but financing became difficult during the recession.

Then he scaled back his plans and started Forno Moto, having a specially made pizza oven put on a trailer so he could take it to food festivals and other events where he could cook fresh pizza on-site.

After a couple of years of successful catering, Smith came back to the idea of a restaurant. This time, he was able to raise enough money from friends and family and through a Kickstarter campaign.

Even then, though, the transformation from dream to reality was slow. He signed a lease for the former Rescue Mission location in December 2012, thinking he would be open by July 2013. "But the building ended up needing a lot more structural work than we thought," Smith said.

Finally, everything got done, though, and now Smith is bringing Napoletana pizza to Winston-Salem. This is not a typical pizza parlor. Instead, Smith hopes to give customers food that embraces the spirit of the cuisine of Naples, Italy.

Smith uses traditional Caputo 00 flour -- the same kind Italians prefer in their pizza dough. Instead of a heavy cooked tomato sauce, he just crushes tomatoes with salt, then drizzles the top with extra-virgin olive oil. The pizzas also are generally lighter than what Americans eat, without a heavy blanket of cheese. The distinctive crust is thin and has a slight char, thanks to the wood-fired oven that cranks up to 1,000 degrees and can cook a pizza in less than 90 seconds.

The toppings, too, offer some different choices. The New Haven pizza has clams, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino-Romano, Italian parsley and pancetta. The Diavola has soppressata (a dry salami), tomato, fresh mozzarella, chiles, basil and honey. One pizza has pistachios on it, another includes a sunny-side-up egg, and another is made with fried dough.

"The menu will feature Napoletana pizza and dishes that embrace the ethos of Italian food; simple, handmade, local, seasonal," Smith said.

Pizzas, all 12-inch, cost from $10 to $16. Other dishes generally cost from $7 to $14, except for cioppino, a seafood stew that goes for $24.

Other dishes include shrimp Arrabbiata -- with a spicy tomato sauce ($10), meatballs ( $10), risotto ($9), and roasted cauliflower wedge with whipped goat cheese ($7).

Smith expects to rotate the menu often, especially to reflect the seasons. "At any given time, the menu will feature about 12 pizzas, and a similar number of dishes," he said.

Smith said he wants to offer authentic and interesting pizzas and Italian dishes. Customers can't get a pepperoni pizza here. "If someone asks for pepperoni, we'll tell them, if you like pepperoni, you'll love soppressata," Smith said. "Soppressata is what pepperoni wants to be when it grows up."

Mission Pizza also has a select list of beers and mostly Italian wines.

The restaurant has seating for about 60 people inside, and a covered patio for outdoor seating when weather permits.

Initially, Mission Pizza will be open only for dinner, from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Eventually, Smith hopes to expand the hours, including late-night hours for takeout pizza through a walk-up window.

For more information, call (336) 893-8217, visit www.fornomoto.com or find Mission Pizza Napoletana on Facebook.

mhastings@wsjournal.com

(336) 727-7394

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