Laptop man has spread out his essentials at the coffee counter, his eyes glued to the screen as his mouth works on a folded-over slice of margherita pizza. On the opposite side of Bay View’s Anodyne cafe, two couples zipped up in North Face padding sip red wine from stemware and wait for co-owner Matt McClutchy to slide their pies out of the massive red-and-black tiled oven that dominates the far side of the room.
After McClutchy and spouse Lacee Perry moved their coffee roaster from the cozy Bay View storefront to its airy Walker’s Point warehouse-sister in 2013, Perry noticed the absence of “buzz and movement” at the BV location. The pizza oven’s advent grew out of pragmatism and a love of pizza deepened by Roman travel. A few years ago, the couple outfitted the backyard of their home with a brick oven, perhaps less of a commitment than the urban chickens they were already raising.
The Perry-McClutchys’ wood-burning cognizance led them to the company of arguably the industry’s top craftsman – Stefano Ferrara, a third-generation Italian who makes ovens in Naples. The average-size Ferrara weighs upward of 6,000 pounds. The cooking plane is formed from “biscotto di Sorrento” clay from Italy’s Sorrento region, near Naples. The ovens’ popularity in the States is growing, but (due to their cost alone) they’re not common.
Once they’re installed, brick ovens undergo a curing process – consecutive days of small, low-temperature fires – before they can maintain the 800-degree fires that can bake a pizza in 60 to 90 seconds.
Despite the artisan investment, Perry insists coffee is their focus, not full-service restaurateuring. “Pizzaiolo” is simply an addition to the couple’s resume.
The 12-inch pies they’ve offered – evenings only, Tues-Sat – since November come in nine varieties (more to come as seasonal toppings become available) – Mr. Potato, fungi (mushroom), and arugula and prosciutto, for example. Just as you’d order a macchiato and scone at the counter, you queue up for pizza, the two offered salads, and your beverage of choice, including beer and wine. Grab a table, perhaps next to the shelves piled with firewood. You won’t wait long. McClutchy or Perry wields the pizza peel – the wide, flat shovel that slides the pizza in and out of the oven.
Other staffers offer pizza tech support, stretching out the dough (which bakes up pillowy and chewy), spooning on the sweet homemade tomato sauce, and scattering on clumps of goat cheese. That creamy cheese works marvelously in the version featuring fire-roasted beets for a sweet, rich pie ($11) – very different from the salty sheets of prosciutto with peppery arugula ($12). If your tongue longs for some vibration, the soppressata with chile flakes (and spicy Calabrian peppers) will answer ($12; plus an extra buck for peppers). There’s even a pizza that stars the small but assertive anchovy.
Coffee and pizza are by no means strange bedfellows.
[mark]➽ Anodyne Bay View[/mark]
2920 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-489-0765. Hours: Tues-Sat 4:30-9 p.m. Prices: Salads $7-$7.50; pizzas $8-$12. Service: Staff seems as stoked about slinging pizza as they are about coffee. Dress: You pick it. Credit cards: M V A DS. Handicap access: Yes. Reservations: No