May 26, 2011

Interested in coal-fired ovens? Check out the raves for this Wood Stone installation…

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Restaurant Review: Coal’s Artisan Pizza

Intensely flavored and burning hot pie

Marty Rosen
Special to the Courier-Journal
May 23, 2011

Restaurant Review: Coal's Artisan Pizza
The Brownsboro at Coals Artisan Pizza features pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and romano cheese with a rustic marinara sauce topped with fresh basil. The pizza is cooked by a special 7,000-pound coal-fired oven. (Credit: Matt Stone)

It’s been a burning question for years: Given that the most storied pizzerias in New York City use coal-burning ovens, and given that Kentucky is deeply rooted in coal culture, why is it that there are no coal-oven pizzerias in the state?

History, geography and geology offer part of the answer. Those New York City pizzerias started when anthracite was the default fuel in the Northeast, and from the beginning they burned clean-burning anthracite from eastern Pennsylvania, not the soft bituminous coal of Kentucky. These days, environmental regulations make it nearly impossible to open a new coal-oven pizzeria in New York City.

But there are other obstacles as well. Coal ovens aren’t exactly catalog items at most restaurant supply stores. And once you acquire one, you have to figure out how to cook pies at about 1,000 degrees. It requires sharp eyes, perfect judgment and split-second timing.

Mark Peters, Madeline Peters and Ginny Peters, co-owners of Coals Artisan Pizza, which opened last month in the Vogue Center, and chefs Mike Hungerford and Penpoki Silver have solved all those problems. Their oven is from Washington state. The anthracite is culled from the unused refuse piles left from old mining operations. And based on recent visits, Hungerford and his crew are playing that oven like masters…

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