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Dining Out

The offerings at the downtown Farmer’s Market are getting more varied as time goes on. We’ve had Mexican and Japanese cuisine, among others, and now we’ve got Italian. It’s a welcome addition.

Wood Fired Pizza is exactly that: It offers personal pizzas hot – and I mean hot – from a specially built oven. The dough is thin, the toppings are light – thinly sliced prosciutto, pepperoni, mushrooms or oysters over light cheeses and sauce. The result is satisfying and not filling – an amazing feat for a pizza meal. Indeed, the pleasure of pizza usually is tinged with guilt – the level of joy of chomping on dough, cheese and meats is matched only by the level of industrial-strength calories.

Not at Wood Fired Pizza, though: You go away wanting more.

The pizzas ranged from about $7 to $9, depending on toppings. I don’t carry a ruler, but the pies looked about nine inches in diameter.

Wood Fired Pizzas, which is just three weeks old, is run by Natomas resident Michael Johnson, his wife and an assistant. They open up shop at various farmers’ markets around town. On Tuesdays, you can find them near 16th and P, and on Wednesdays, they’re in Cesar Chavez Park across from City Hall.

Their pizza oven itself is a work of art. Manufactured in Italy and attached to a specially built trailer by a Boulder, Colo., company, the 3,000-pound unit is massive and imposing. It resembles a kiln, with a convex-shaped dome and a metal vent. The outside is covered by brown cement.  

The wood is placed in one corner of the oven floor. As it burns down, the coals get hotter – just like a hearth at home – and the heat radiates through the floor and chamber. Temperatures reach 700 degrees and the pies bake in two minutes. From the order to the making to the baking, the total elapsed time is usually less than five minutes.  Not bad.
Wood Fired Pizza doesn’t have a permanent location, although Johnson runs a catering business out of his home and they handle catering orders 24-7.

His eatery, though, is only accessible at the markets, or periodically at other venues, such as wineries or public gatherings. The markets are open typically from mid-morning until about 2 p.m.

He also operates a cleaning business out of his home. But he said his pizza project is a labor of love.

“This is fun. This is passionate,” he said.

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