Tag Archives: street food

Mission Pizza Napoletana

It’s easy to talk pizza when it’s your mission in life.

And yes, we’re talking pizza today. But we also wanted you to get to know our favorite “pizza geek” a little bit better. 

ps: you can find the YES! Weekly version of this story here

Mission Pizza Napoletana has been enjoying business in downtown Winston-Salem for almost five years.  Owner and pizza-maker-in-chief, Peyton Smith, fell in love with Neapolitan style pizza after a visit to Naples, Italy years ago.  When the economy was in a state of flux, Smith started out as a mobile pizza business, “My inspiration was to produce the exact kind of pizza you’ll find in Naples.” 

Peyton Smith, Mission Pizza Napoletana, outside pizzeria

And it made perfect sense at the time, since the pizza, which originated in Naples is actually a street food. “Napoletana pizza, or Neapolitan pizza, is the original pizza,” Smith explains.  Established circa 1800’s, Napoletana pizza is wood-fired at temperatures that reach 1000 degrees for about 90 seconds or less.  What you get is a light pizza, with a crispy cornicione (that’s crust to you and me).  Sounds pretty basic and simple, right? But to hear Smith describe it, it’s almost poetic to achieve the perfect Neapolitan style pizza. “It starts with high-quality flour, but the big thing for a finished product is the baking method.  A stone hearth or live fire, traditionally wood-fire, cooking at about 800-1000 degrees,” Smith says. “Because of the nature of the high heat and softer flour which gives you a pliable dough, the interior crumb is soft with an open cell structure. And it’s not crunchy, but the veneer has crispiness.” Smith adds, “It can be folded and that’s encouraged. The tell-tale sign is you can fold Neapolitan pizza and it doesn’t crack.” It also allows use to use your hands to eat it, which Smith encourages because it requires all the senses.

The poetry doesn’t stop there. Now Smith is on a roll. “The pizza should smell sweet and bready, with a little blistering, which are the small black or dark brown spots and it should have micro-bubbles.” Because it’s a softer product and baked at a high heat at minute to minute and a half, Smith says what goes on top is important. Or not.  “It should be topped with light ingredients. The dough is the fundamental starting point, but it should work in balance with the other toppings, like a fresh cheese, salumi, tomato, herbs.” And then, “Finally, it should be light on the stomach. You can crush that whole thing and feel satisfied and not heavy in the gut. If we can do all that right, we’ve produced something pretty special.” 

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It’s best consumed right out of the oven. My personal fave at Mission is the Billy Jowl with its ricotta cream, smoked mozzarella, guanciale, fennel pollen, black pepper, oregano. Yum…my mouth waters just thinking about it. Sorry no decent photo. Just trust me.  The Margherita is also incredible and it’s how the youngest learned that he loves basil. The Diavola is another with its fresh mozzarella, hot sopressata, chilis, honey, pecorino, basil (below). 

 

Smith says though ingredients are extremely important, like the flour and the tomatoes, he doesn’t import a lot and gets many ingredients locally. “I use an Italian ethos but I want to use as many local ingredients as possible. An our tools and technique are very important here.” One of the major tools is the huge pizza oven that takes center stage in the kitchen.  Built by Stefano Ferrara, a third-generation oven builder, it’s hand-made, brick-by-brick with a traditional low dome for the ultimate in wood-fired high-temperature retention. 

Although a self-proclaimed pizza geek, Smith conceives the menu as well as plating, and likes people to know that his mission is actually more than just pizza. The name Mission Pizza Napoletana should indicate that their pizza is not what you’re accustomed to.  He asserts, “We’re really an osteria, a small tavern with a limited full-service menu that happens to be pizza-centric. I love the non-pizza items we dish out like our salads, pastas and appetizers.” Few are the places where you can get freshly made pasta.  “On occasion we do sheeted pastas and cut into noodles, we make stuffed pasta. Right now we’re making a cavatelli for our bolognese. Our wood-fired oven is used to finish other dishes, like our cauliflower, which has a life of its own.  And on the weekend, we can do funky stuff like porchetta, lamb shank and the occasional whole fish.”

 

(photo cred: MPN)

Smith’s approach landed him an opportunity this summer to cook pizza alongside 25 of the top American pizza makers at the New York Pizza Festival. “These are makers who really are executing pizza at a high level.  It was a humbling experience to be invited. I got to hang out with my friends and make pizza all day.”  Smith also met Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We had a nice chat. He was really interested in our ingredients. We fed him our pizza and he wouldn’t put it down.”

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The pizza man and the mayor

Not too shabby for a chef with no formal culinary training, however Smith has worked in the restaurant business in nearly every capacity from bussing to serving.  “When I was resolute about opening a place, I worked with Chef Jim Noble and I gave him al that I had. I developed a passion for food 20 years ago and how it’s a vehicle for lubricating social celebrations.  I’ve taken a real interest in learning techniques and have curiosity about how things are done. The biggest thing for me and thinking about food and the plate. There’s no doubt about how I want it to taste and look.” Smith says he gets much inspiration from travel.  “I want to eat the best food I can, wherever I am. It gives a really excellent perspective of how things are executed at a high level. Back in my kitchen, whether someone likes what we do or not, we certainly know what we wanted to do.”

As for his place in the very communal Winston-Salem food scene, Smith, who grew up here, says he has enjoyed the support and he’s proud of how they’re executing at a high level. “I’m happy with what we do and I intend on making us better every day.”

Mission Pizza Napoletana is located at 707 Trade Street NW, Winston-Salem. Open Tues-Thurs 5pm-9pm; Friday & Saturday 11am-2pm and 5pm-10pm.  missionpizzanapoletana.com 

foodie b’eat: Crafted Brings Its Art to Downtown Winston-Salem

From YES! Weekly….

If there’s one thing Chef Kristina Fuller has gotten the hang of, it’s how to create a bit of a clamor when it comes to “will she, won’t she?” or “what’s it going to be?” After two successful restaurants in Greensboro (Crafted— The Art of the Taco and Crafted—The Art of Street Food) Chef Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda, finally announced what thousands have been hoping for a couple of years now…..Crafted—The Art of the Taco is coming to Winston-Salem. And very fittingly, to the Arts District downtown.

We’ve been talking to the Fullers for a couple of years now about expanding their “taco joint” (it’s not a Mexican restaurant) into the the Twin City. There’s always been a “oh, we want to,” from them. Then Street Food opened, so we waited. And I’ve even sent them photos of spaces for lease when I would run across them downtown. The dynamic mother/daughter team simply wanted to take their time and make sure they had the staff in place so that the chef could focus on a new restaurant. Fuller says they were ready and finally looking at a space along 4th Street when they got an email that the property at 527 N. Liberty Street was available. “it really just kind of chose us. We set up a meeting with the landlord and realized it was a great relationship. It’s perfect.”

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Owner, Mike Stinnett, has already gotten to work on improvements to the stand-alone building which used to be 3 different barbershops. The windows out front will be opened up even more, with an additional window being added to one side of the building for more light. There will be the Crafted customary open kitchen concept with a rustic, urban chic feel. Fuller says they plan on using one wall along the bar to feature the specials. The space already has exposed brick and the wood that is now the subfloor will be taken out and repurposed as table tops. “We really like to be as sustainable as possible and re-use what’s already here. Mike has barns and he’s just pulling fixtures from ” The main dining room will seat about 50, the bar will seat another 15 and the patio will hold about 28 seats. “We just want it rustic and a bit industrial, but clean and simple.” Fuller says elements of unexpected design like graffiti and chandeliers will be present at the new location as well. Fuller says Stinnett will be creating offices in the upstairs portion of the building. The lower level beneath the restaurant will be used for storage and hopefully be expanded into space for special events. “It has a lot of possibilities…art showings, parties, it’ll be a great space.”

There will be a small parking lot with about 14 spaces, then parking is usually pretty easy to find along Liberty Street. Fuller says they expect to be open in about 8 months. The Fullers also last week announced the opening of a food truck. Fuller says the truck will be used for special events but on she plans to have it On The Road 7 days a week, adding “We’ll also be putting the food truck out front at the WS location just to drum up excitement and word of mouth in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new taco joint this fall. We wouldn’t want folks to forget about us or wonder when we’re going to open.”

In the meantime, Fuller will be dividing her time between two successful restaurants and a food truck, with Street Food about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Fuller says Crafted—The Art of Street Food opened with such fanfare that it took a while for them to find their ground. “In the beginning, we got hit so hard and sometimes we were on an hour wait and when it’s like that, you can’t always know what’s going wrong in the midst of all the crazy. But then the newness wore off and honeymoon phase was over and we were able to hone in on our recipes and know what was really working.” Fuller says the new menu that’s just come out is a reflection of that. “I feel like this is us perfecting all the food that people love, tweaking it and putting out what is a seriously good menu.” You’ll find a few more Asian dishes for sure, evidence of the chef’s recent travels. Fuller visited Thailand a couple of months back, so you will see some inspiration from trip like noodle dishes, Pad Thai, Thai curry shrimp, some Indian dishes and as always, favorite like poutine, Bao, and the ever-popular, ramen. Thank goodness….Fuller says, “Oh yeah, the ramen’s not going anywhere.”

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Wanna go? Well, you’ll have to wait until about October/November for the new location at 527 N. Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. Until then, find the Crafted On the Road wherever it may be or Crafted—The Art of the Taco at 219 S. Elm Street or Crafted—The Art of Street Food at 600 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro. eatatcrafted.com