In September, Louisville will get another high-end pizzeria when MozzaPi opens at 1015 Bardstown Road in the Highlands.
Should business partners Tom Edwards and Justyne Richardson deliver on their aim to make certified Neapolitan-style pies, it will mark the first such pizzeria in the state to pull it off. (Note: I learned on 4/21/11 that I was wrong about it being the first in the state. Smashing Tomato in Lexington is a VPN-certified pizzeria. I stand happily corrected and am now planning a road trip.)
Edwards, who is Richardson’s uncle, trained with California pizza maker and Italian immigrant Pepe Miele to learn the Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) style, Italy’s rigid standard for true Neapolitan pizza.
(At least one restaurant locally claims to be VPN certified, but it’s not even close to producing pies to that standard. I’ll write about that soon.)
“Tom’s had an obsession for pizza and dough, which he’s enjoyed for about six years,” said Richardson, who will manage the front of the house and all the marketing.
“He’s played around with the idea for a long time and decided it was time to take the show on the road.”
She means that in most every way possible. Not only did Edwards traverse the country sampling pizzas at some of the nation’s top pizzerias, he bought a Wood Stone oven and drove it here in a box truck from Bellingham, Wash.
And beginning April 22, MozzaPi will begin baking pizzas every Friday and Saturday night at Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar (230 East Main Street) starting at 6:30 p.m. MozzaPi also will haul the oven out for private catering and public events. Visit its Facebook page for contact info.
When MozzaPi opens in its own space, the menu will be simple: six to eight pizza choices, a few salads and a few antipasta offerings.
“We’re going to do a hundred dough balls of the Neapolitan dough a night, and when that dough runs out, it runs out,” said Richardson. A different crust style will be offered, but that’s still being formulated. “We don’t use a mixer for the Neapolitan dough; it’s all going to be hand done.”
Making any dough by hand, much less that much of it, can be back-breaking work, but it’s done that way at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix and Apizza Scholls in Portland, Ore., to name just two.
MozzaPi also will make its mozzarella fresh by hand and serve it warm. If you’ve never had it warm, it’s indescribably good: so sensuous and sumptuous it’s nearly sinful.
Despite some who think Louisville doesn’t need another pizzeria—maybe not another bad pizzeria, but there’s limitless room for really good pizza—Richardson is excited by the April opening of Coals Artisan Pizza in St. Matthews and, eventually, the still-unnamed, wood-fired pizzeria in NuLu that will be run by Proof on Main executive chef Michael Paley.
“Those places are raising awareness about what good pizza really is,” said Richardson, a 2010 Northern Kentucky University grad whose professional work includes PR and advertising, as well as side work in catering.
“And though it’s still kind of new to Louisville, we think Louisville will pick up on it quickly. There is so much great food in this town that we know pizza like this will catch on.”