Smile Politely

Pleading For Wood-Fired Pizza in C-U

While I know that some would argue with me to the ends of the earth about this, there is simply nothing very good about the pizza in this town.

Truth be told, there isn’t any really great thin-crust pizza in Champaign-Urbana.

If I had to give my best opinion though, I would choose the pizza at Old Orchard bowling lanes as the best in town. I honestly like it quite a bit. And while I am not sure that I want to do any more research on their kitchen or staff, I am glad to eat there every now and again when the mood should strike. Even my picky — oh so picky — wife enjoys it, so it’s in rotation at the household.

Behind that, it’s a toss-up between newcomer Manolo’s and the crafty veteran, Monical’s. Both are solid and enjoyable and reasonably priced. But nothing here defines them as great either. They’re just simply pleasantly palatable, at their best.

No. What I am looking for is something unbelievably delicious. Something with a certain taste that is only possible when you slide a round of leavened dough, sauce and cheese into a wood-fired oven. It’s so simple, and yet so dynamic in its flavor.

The reality is that building a wood-fired oven isn’t rocket science. Now, that doesn’t mean that kids in shop class can knock one out in a week, but certainly, for the cost of what a commercial pizza oven goes for, a brazen and courageous young restaurateur could easily afford to build more than a few of these suckers, if he or she had the space for it.

There are, in fact, many places that will show you how.

So, now that we have the tools, how about it C-U? Who’s up to the challenge? Who can step up and satiate the communities hunger for a delectable wood-fired pizza joint? Lord knows, I can’t handle another “slice” of “pizza” from a place like Gumby’s.

Won’t someone do me the favor?

Photos by Seth Fein

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