Fired Up

Wood Oven Pizza Comes to Downtown Cary

By Steven Major
Photos by Ginny Williams

Neapolitan pizza was popularized in the nineteenth century and in a little over one hundred years has become something of a culinary institution, with the “Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana” establishing strict guidelines as to what exactly is and is not a Neapolitan pizza. The most traditional form of the dish is the margherita pizza, named after the queen of Savoy who (as the story goes) fell in love with Raffaele Esposito’s creation: pizza prepared with stewed tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil (a color scheme drawn from the Italian flag). Neapolitan pizza is smaller than a traditional American “pie”, around 13" in diameter, and is cooked for no more than 90 seconds in a wood-fired oven at very high temperatures (800-900 degrees). The ovens themselves are as significant to the pizza as the dough.

Paulie Gee’s, a famous Neapolitan pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, reportedly invested nearly $25,000 getting theirs shipped over from Italy and installed. 

Amber and Zach Faulisi’s dream of having their own pizzeria started many years ago. They wanted a wood-fired pizzeria that built on the Neapolitan tradition without being bound to the label. To make that dream a reality they spent years tinkering with dough recipes and traveled extensively to sample pizza made from some of the best pizzaiolos in the country. They focused on the different ovens in use at each place they visited before choosing an oven made by Stefano Ferrara, whose family has been making some of the finest brick ovens for restaurants around the world for generations. Their years of planning came to a head in March, when Pizzeria Faulisi opened in downtown Cary.

For those who have yet to experience a traditional Neapolitan pizza, the margherita pizza at Pizzeria Faulisi is an excellent introduction. Their oven, fueled with a mixture of hickory and oak, imparts a very subtle smokiness to the pizzas. The dough is made from a mixture of Caputo flour (imported from Naples) and Boulted Bread’s locally ground flour, and comes out of the oven slightly charred and incredibly delicious. The ingredients are simple enough to allow the flavor of the dough and the slightly smoky profile to come through: stewed tomatoes that are slightly salted, mozzarella from the famous Cave Brothers Farm in Wisconsin, and basil. The pizza is supposed to be a bit soggy in the middle, so feel free to use a fork and knife and use the crust to sop up any sauce left on the plate.