Pizza parlors, like family reunions, unite kin, satisfy appetites, and are enhanced by animatronic grandmas. Gorge on dough disks minus short-circuit relatives with today's Groupon: for $9, you get $20 worth of Italian fare at Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Black Mountain.
Chef and owner Mark Tomczak crafts traditional Neo-Neapolitan pizzas in an imported Italian wood-burning oven, topping them with cheeses and hand-selected produce from local farmers. Diners assuage anticipation with an order of fresh, oven-baked bread ($2) from the menu before moving onto Fresh's signature pizzas, which measure 12-inches across and spring from homemade, hand-worked dough. The Rose's pizza layers fresh mozzarella, hand-picked basil, roasted garlic, and olive oil atop marinara sauce ($9.95), and the Chevre coats its sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and fresh basil with goat cheese ($12.95). Colossal carnivores tear into the Scarface with its patchwork of italian sausage, pepperoni, and spicy salami decorating a canvas of mozzarella and tomato sauce ($12.95), and creative diners craft their own pizzas from fixings including mushrooms, olives, prosciutto, and smaller pizzas ($8.95, $1.29 per topping).
Fresh makes its own pasta, blanketing it in marinara sauce, fresh basil-alfredo sauce, or homemade pesto ($8.95 each), and can throw in a meaty boost with grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, or homemade meatballs (add $2 for each). Fresh replaces any pizza or pasta dish with homemade, gluten-free dough or gluten-free rice pasta (add $1.50), provided it is requested in semaphore.
Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta
The last of 11 children, Mark Tomczak has a passion for prepping and serving quality cuisine that began in elementary school, when he helped his mother feed his siblings during countless baking and cooking sessions. Mark initially embarked on a career path rooted in ceramic artistry at his studio, Muddy Creek Pottery. After stints as assistant and head chef at several restaurants, however, he combined his adoration of food with his sculptural skills to shape the neapolitan pies, pastas, and abundant eats of Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta.
Swapping his kiln for a handcrafted wood-fired pizza oven imported from Italy, Mark and his team bake pizzas and daily-made bread at temperatures of up to 800 degrees, the exact temperature of steam blowing out of a cartoon man's ears. Each hunk of handmade dough arrives adorned in organic ingredients culled at least once weekly from local farms, cooperatives, granaries, creameries, and the restaurant's own garden. Mark supplements his extensive pizza portions with pastas, lunchtime sandwiches, desserts made fresh daily, and a plentitude of gluten-free dining options.