What’s cookin’ (and pourin’) at Truckee’s new Pizza Bar
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
If you go
What: Pizza Bar
Where: 10164 Donner Pass Road, Truckee
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Service: Energetic and fun
Drinks and wine: 12 draft wines, 16 tap beers, inventive cocktails featuring house-made simple syrups and purees and a special in-house barrel-aged Jack Daniels
Atmosphere: Contemporary, cool. Good for ladies’ night, dates, groups, families or singles
Wheelchair accessible and private parties
“But why pizza? Why not Pho, Greek, Burmese or any number of unrepresented cuisines in Truckee?”
This lament continued whining its way out of my mouth whenever mention of the new pizza place came ‘round. Really, how much pizza can one town eat?
One bright “Februly” afternoon I washed my words right back down my throat with Pizza Bar’s Prosciutto di Parma (straight di Italy) and a crisp and refreshing glass of draft Chardonnay.
Pizza can be many things. Just slap a pie on the table between a Chicagoan, a New Yorker, an Italian and a Sicilian and accents and hands collide in uproarious debate. What Pizza Bar serves up is unlike the local competition (a positive for all involved) but follows all the standards of a good Neapolitan pie and all of the expectations of a Nor Cal foodie: consciously sourced ingredients, knowledgeable service and an IPA-centric tap list.
When I asked Doug, the general manager, what inspired the investors to open a pizza place, he gestured to the long line of draft wines. The trend is a green one with barrels cutting down on packaging waste and shipping costs, as well as maintaining freshness, with the value passing forward so patrons can try higher-end wines without a hit to their wallets. Pizza Bar boasts twelve drafts, and each of the current traditional varietals will soon be plucked out for funky and leggy spring kegs.
Doug is also the GM of Marg’s Taco Bistro, which he helped open as well. By that time the Big Eats Restaurant Group had established three Colorado locations, and Doug was there from the beginning. Shortly after Truckee’s Marg’s debuted, the adjoining space opened up discussions for new concepts.
Pizza Bar just celebrated two months of business and continues to reinvent herself. Overnight, the patio opened for perfect Happy Hour seating (3-6 p.m. everyday) with the heating lamps already ordered and the aromatic promise of summer basil and mint wafting from the trellis vines.
While evolution is a promise, so is good food. Italian ingredients come together with fresh (organic when possible) produce and locally inclined proteins in the open kitchen, in which sits the funniest, friendliest looking identified foreign object in the 530. The Neapolitan-style gas oven resembles an adorable giant martian head, his square face flashing neon numbers in response to the gentlest of taps and strokes. The numbers correlate with the ambient temperature and that of the Italian stone wedges that char a perfect Neapolitan crust.
Besides the braised pork, which is cooked next door, every plate is prepared in that oven, from the bacon-wrapped dates to the butternut squash. Amongst the stacks of Italian Caputo blue flour and the rows of canned Marzano tomatoes sits only one other culinary apparatus: the two-armed dough mixer which stands apart from lesser-armed mixers by simulating the kneading process. After rising, the dough is hand-stretched to order and the pizza is complete within six to seven minutes, at the quickest.
For appetizers, there’s everything from homemade meatballs to calamari. And while one pie will feed a hungry person, it’s the perfect portion to share with a starter and/or salad. The classic margherita pizza starts at $10. Prices peak at the Meat Lovers’ $16, with Gumbas and squash in between. If you dig veggies, try the Herbavore with basil pesto, artichokes, roasted mushrooms, truffle oil, arugula and shaved parmesan. The favorite Pizza Rustica is a white pizza with ricotta, asparagus, roasted garlic, roasted corn, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and chili flakes. You can, of course, build your own.
So, after all my pre-emptive griping, with foot-in-mouth I gladly welcome another delicious, and architecturally and atmospherically hip, restaurant to Truckee.
Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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