By Wini Moranville
True—it’s risky to deem anything “best,” but if you love wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza, you really need to give Vesuvius Wood-Fired Pizza (1620 S. Kellogg Ave., Ames; 515-233-7183) a try. I can’t think of anyone within a 60-mile drive who does ultra-thin-crust pizza quite like this.
I recently had a chance to talk to chef-owner Scott Coldiron about his pies, and I was surprised to learn two things:
• What’s with the wood? Nope, it’s not about imbuing the pies with any sort of smoky flavor; rather, it’s all about the heat. Wood fires up the oven to 800°F, cooking the pizza in just seconds and getting the crust just right.
• The crust?: “Crisp” doesn’t quite describe it. Rather, it’s crisp and blistery toward the outer edges, softer toward the center. All that, I knew. It was the irresistible airiness throughout that proved a revelation to me.
While Coldiron once was the executive chef of a private dining club, overseeing a 12-page menu, he gave all that up to cook something more “elemental.” Yet you can taste the precision of one who’s spent so much time around food, from the brightness of the thin slather of sauce, to the beautifully balanced toppings.
What? You don’t want to drive to Ames for a pizza? No problem. You can reserve the Vesuvius Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza Oven for your own party. There’s a $500 minimum, which will feed about 50. (Coldiron can fire up 80 to 100 pizzas an hour).
To get an idea of the experience, check out this brief video: