Coal Vines - Dallas
Hey all...apparently Dallas is in the middle of a pizza renaissance! Who knew. At any rate, a new pizza restaurant just opened with a COAL oven! I have not tried it yet - but reviews are all good. I will hit it this week one day and check it out.
Assuming you had a source for coal, I imagine you could use it as a fuel source in our wood-burning ovens??
wood vs coal
I don't know this from personal experience, but it's said that wood burns at a higher temperature, and is good for neopolitan style pizza, but coal ovens are used for New York style pizza, which is thicker, cheesier, and cooks for a longer period of time. It's also said that coal ovens are different in shape than round wood burning ovens.
East coast coal ovens
Any east coast members want to weigh in on the coal ovens in CT? I've read a lot about them, but I've never had the experience of a coal fired pizza. As David says, I've heard they cook hot -- though that in and of it self doesn't mean the pizza is good.
I've never seen a coal oven in Italy. Anybody seen one there?
Any good apocryphal stories on how we ended up with coal fired ovens in the Northeast?
I was born in Philadelphia and spent my childhood there. In the neighbourhoods of older row houses (some 18th century, some 19th), everybody heated with coal. My grandparents' house was in Kensington, near the Delaware River, built about 1890 or so, and they heated with coal and cooked on a coal stove. Had an icebox, too. Philly, like many parts of the northeast, is hard by the Appalacian Mountains, where hard Anthracite coal was in abundance from places like Wilkes Barre, Scranton, Endwell and the Endless Mountains. They used it in bake ovens, I strongly suspect, because this was THE fuel source. Anthracite is quite hard and does burn very hot and clean, unlike bituminous soft coal that burns cooler and produces a lot of smoke. The infamous London fogs were a result of bituminous coal burning.
Also, at least in my part of PA, the major tree species is scrub oak, not the best for wood heat.
here in NYC what is said to be the first pizza store in the United States, Lombardi's, was established in 1905, they cook with coal, the pizza is outstanding, it has a slight smokey flavor, the crust is very thin and they say their ovens get up to about 900 degrees.
OK so I went to Coal Vines today at lunch...the pizza is definitely very good. Very thin NY style that you can fold. I still like the true Neapolitan style better - but that is just my preference. The crust had some nice charring and a good smoky flavor. They were definitely cooking the pizzas longer - not 2-3 mins.
Anyway - the oven was pretty interesting. It was not a dome and not circular...it was about 6 ft wide, 2.5 ft deep and had a barrel ceiling...and they had 2 arched doorways (sharing the same oven chamber) about 2 ft apart. 2 big glowing piles of coal. I was about 5 ft way from the oven opening and I could feel the heat. I don't know how the guys in the kitchen did it.
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