Pizza is the essence of the gods. Originally created by a humble baker in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy and later perfected by Frank Pepe; pizza is one of the most appetizing and consequently, indispensible foods on Earth. It is a common-denominator that is enjoyed world over, regardless of age, race, sex, or religion. But despite its popularity, people generally eat abominable pizza pies. Whether it has sixteen different types of cheese-product exuding from the crust or was drowned in some red shellac-like excuse for sauce made from something that used to resemble a tomato: good pizza has become an elusive delight. The key to a proper pizza is in the crust. It has to have character, to crack like glass when you bite down into it and then culminate in a chewy, pillowy center. Such a crust comes from quality grains, patience in the fermenting process, and most importantly: really hot and really dry, wood or coal fueled ovens. Big pizzeria chains such as Pizza Hut and even the local guys like Tate Street’s New York Pizza use electric or gas ovens that create pedestrian, greasy, and doughy pies which I find impossible to enjoy. Jaded by the tomato pies of Pepe’s and Rome’s Pizzeria Baffetto, I went searching for a slice of heaven in the Gate City and miraculously found a pizzeria with rock-solid fare.
Sticks and Stones Clay Oven Pizza succeeds where so many other eating establishments fail. They have masterfully taken traditional peasant dishes of Italy and infused them with modern flare and elegance without being cliché or over-the-top. In addition, their strong dedication to natural ingredients from local farms and dairies paired with a true devotion to producing the best possible cuisine make dining at their Walker Avenue restaurant an indulgence. Upon first glance of Sticks and Stones seasonal menu, one will notice that each dish has an ingredient inspired name. Delicious and unique options range from classic starters such as the “Gold” (the richest and creamiest mozzarella I have ever had, fried and served with marinated tomatoes and homemade pesto) to more exotic options like the “Rescue Blues” (rosemary garlic fries) and “Bar Lights” (marinated roasted local vegetables with olives, cured meats, and cheeses). The “Peaceful Valley” salad (local organic greens, sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, toasted pumpkin and flax seeds, served with a homemade roasted shallot & herb vinaigrette) is exciting enough to make even a carnivore like me cave in and enjoy raw vegetables.
The pizza menu further demonstrates the chef’s artistry and talent of triumphing over culinary risks when paring unconventional ingredients. The “Sweet Carolina” is a pork lover’s dream with Cane Creek Farm’s all natural sweet Italian sausage complemented with roasted chili peppers, spinach, mozzarella, fresh ricotta, parmesan, and a sauce of crushed local tomatoes. The “Mockingbirdsing” is another stunning example of ingredient coupling with its roasted Ashley Farms Chicken and sautéed fennel which is further enhanced with fresh tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, and gorgonzola. For those looking for a slightly more placid pie, Sticks and Stone’s “To be the One” is a gorgeous cheese pizza topped with fresh basil. It is simple, fresh, and unforgettable.
Sticks and Stones’ starters, salads, pizzas, and desserts exemplify stellar Italian dining. Their recognition of the importance of eating and buying sustainable, local, and organic foods further adorns this hidden Greensboro gem. To boot, they also boast an extensive beer and wine menu, all at reasonable prices. Put the Dominos triple layered, taco lovers, hot dog and cheese stuffed crust, cookie dough topped pizza down and head to Sticks and Stones to atone for your pizza sins.
Sticks & Stones
2200 Walker Avenue
Greensboro, North Carolina 27403
Visit Sticks and Stones website at SticksandStonesClayOven.com
*A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2009 on page 16 of The Carolinian and online at worldlyeats.blogspot.com
Sticks and Stones
2200 Walker Ave, Greensboro, NC 27403