By Stephanie Hess
In August of last year, Peyton Smith concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the pizza from his award-winning mobile company, Forno Moto, to a brick-and-mortar location on Trade Street in the heart of Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District. More than 200 backers contributed to a fund to aid in the construction of Mission Pizza Napoletana and to bring a one-of-a-kind brick oven over from Naples, Italy – all at the promise of the “best pizza in the world.” Recently, Tim Beeman and Stephanie Hess – CCD contributors and two of the hosts of Tart & Tangy Triad, the local food podcast – dropped by Mission Pizza to check out the “Ferrari of pizza ovens” and try the Napoletana-style pizza. The verdict? This may indeed be the best pizza in the world.
Napoletana-style pizza is a tradition born in Naples centuries ago, and the focus is essentially on a high-quality crust topped with fresh ingredients and baked in a wood-burning oven at a very high temperature. In fact, the oven at Mission Pizza burns at about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and bakes the 10-12 inch pizzas in around 90 seconds. The oven could be viewed from the entrance and bar area, and it is beautiful. The glowing fire, combined with the minimalist but warm décor of wood finishes and antique-style lighting gives the restaurant a cozy atmosphere – an Old World style with a modern touch. The wine list features primarily wines from Italy – not extensive, but with good variety from semi-sweet to dry, and the staff is quite knowledgeable in helping with selection. The beer list features NC breweries and Smith plans on expanding into more craft brews in the future. Mexican Coke, made with real sugar, is also an option. Drinks are served alongside a carafe of water, which is reminiscent of the style found in cafes and bistros in Europe.
The menu presently features around 15 pizzas, featuring a variety of ingredients such as chiles, smoked mozzarella, sweet sopressata, pickled peppers, pancetta – and an option for a sunny-side-up egg on any pizza. You won’t find the traditional kid-friendly pepperoni oozing with stringy cheese – but the pies are colorful and flavorful enough to spark the interest of young foodies. They are also just the right size for one hungry adult, or split between two adults or kids. Tart & Tangy tried the EAC – which features tomato, house-made Italian sausage, mozzarella, garlic, pickled peppers and oregano piled on a crust that strikes a perfect balance of crunchy and chewy. We opted to have the spicy peppers limited to one side (we have different opinions on spice) and a fried egg on top.
In addition to pizza there is an equally vast selection of small plates – veggie options such as beet salad and wood-fired cauliflower wedges, and options like Italian sausage with pan fried polenta or pork belly for the carnivores. Tart & Tangy were blown away by the fresh-made meatballs in tomato sauce, which Smith explained is cooked just long enough to bring the sweetness out of the fresh tomatoes. They were blanketed in fresh mozzarella.
Mission Pizza Napoletana is located at 707 North Trade Street in Winston-Salem. They are open for dinner 5-10pm Monday-Saturday. You can follow them HERE and read the CCD story on their Kickstarter HERE. To learn more about Tart & Tangy Triad Podcast, featuring hosts Stephanie Hess, Nikki Miller-Ka, and Tim Beeman, visit their website HERE or Facebook page HERE .