On a snowy, blustery evening, I found myself at Pizza Barbone in Hyannis. Two friends had been there recently and urged me to try their out-of-this-world pizza. Their tagline is “Wood Fired Pizza Perfection on the go,” and the very special feature in this lovely gem is its Stefano Ferrara wood fired oven.
This artisan oven weighs six-thousand pounds, hails from Naples, Italy, and is one of only twenty-two in the States. Oh, and it burns at 1,000 degrees! So while the pizza takes very little time to cook, it is most carefully and lovingly prepared prior to baking. You can watch them make the pizza at the bar abutting the special oven.
Lofty and spacious-feeling, with weathered wood floors, beautifully lit with candles and modern fixtures, Pizza Barbone beckoned my friend and me with the hip, yet down-home feel. Water is served in old-fashioned glass milk jugs, and there is a cozy, comprehensive wine list and beer, too, as well as soda, lemonade, and Prosecco. We started with a Stella Artois on tap, and ordered the recommended salad as our first course. The generous arugula salad with shaved pear, candied walnuts and gorgonzola was perfectly dressed, with the citrus dressing brightening up the rich cheese. There was plenty to share of this refreshing, crisp salad.
We ordered two 8-inch pizzas to share, thinking there would be some leftover to take home. The Barbone Meatball pizza also featured San Marzano tomato, caramelized onion, fresh mozzarella, Kalamata olives, and fresh oregano. The House-made Sweet Sausage pizza with San Marzano tomato, red onion, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, fresh oregano, and parmesan was delicious. The Italian San Marzano tomatoes are chef’s favorites, and considered to be the best paste tomatoes in the world. The sausage was tender and perfectly sweetened with fennel, the ricotta was especially outstanding, and the crust needs a blog all its own!
The crust is created from dough made with Caputo 00 (double zero) flour, as is widely used in Italy. I have not yet made it to Naples, but have read and heard about the pizza dough there, and Barbone’s versions are addictive. Crisply finished, but soft and pillowed, it is the kind of crust that you want to eat every bite of!
Chef/Owner Jason O’Toole has impressive credentials, including a stint at NYC’s Le Cirque, studying at CIA (Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY), and working for Chef Gordon Ramsay in London. Since 2010, Jason operated his famous and very mobile pizza oven at public events and farmers markets on Cape Cod. He quickly established a large following of customers booking private parties and their mobile pizza parties and catering are thriving. His new wife, Ali, manages the front of house and is an elegant, friendly presence at each table. There is a subtly-placed link on one of the website pages to a Vimeo of Ali and Jason’s engagement, which I found incredibly charming and endearing.
Pizza Barbone offers daily lunch specials; open Tuesday through Sunday for January and February, more hours for spring and summer. Visit www.pizzabarbone.com for more information. Barbone is Italian for vagabond.
390 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
(Above: Watch your pizza lovingly made before it heads into the artisan oven. Photo by Cheryl Kain.)