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“I don’t do grilled pizza, I do wood-fired pizza!”
Gregg O’Neill spends as much time explaining his creations as he does making them. He is the owner and self-titled “Pizzaiolo” of Bravo Wood Fired Pizza in North Kingstown, which brings pizza made in a wood-fired oven on a trailer to just about any mobile location, dough, sauce and all. A foodie who has immersed himself in the nuances of Neapolitan pizza making, O’Neill has found a new way to do the farm-to-table approach that is currently popular in fine-dining circles.
“The Italians have a saying that good pizza is ‘all about the bread,’ ” said O’Neill. “This means [to me] that great pizza can only be so with the best dough baked in the best oven.”
He comes by his title – Pizzaiolo – not by accident. The term, according to
the Pizza Making Glossary found on
pizzamaking.com, is used to describe a trained, Italian pizza maker, especially one with skills in making and baking Neapolitan pizzas in a high-temperature, wood-fired oven and with exceptional skills in managing and mastering the use of the oven.
Bravo’s wood-fired pizza is as different from grilled pizza as a hamburger is from a meatball. Grilled pizza – which as we all know was introduced in the United States by Johanne Kilheen and George Germon at Al Forno in Providence in 1980 – has a thin, almost tortilla-like crust that does not rise in order to stand up to the direct flame of the grill.
Toppings are sliced thin to enable them to be heated quickly during the grilling process, which even though it is a direct flame does not reach the high temperatures of the wood-fired oven. There are as many variations of the formula of crust, sauce, cheese and toppings as there are pizza cooks. Entire books have been written about the vagaries of which flour works best, how much stretching of the dough is necessary and whether or not the pie should be perfectly round-shaped.