Not all pizza is created equally. What makes Pie95’s Neapolitan-style pizzas stand out are homemade sauce and aged fermented dough, fresh toppings, quality cheese, attention to detail, chef’s positive attitude and a wood-fire oven.
Pie95 hit the streets in late October, and has already begun to amass quite a following. Its pies have quickly become one of my Jacksonville pizza mainstays — and I’ve been known to eat a lot of pizza in my 18 years here. The crust is what keeps me coming back for more: thin, with a consistently perfect crisp and chewy crust, and no sogginess, plus a light, nice char from the intense heat of the wood-fire oven.
On my first visit, I went with the simple albeit classic margherita ($11): tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and olive oil. There is a careful balance between the sauce, cheese and crust, and unlike a lot of greasy, overly cheesy pizzas, you can see and taste the underlying sauce.
The homemade dough starts with flour imported from Italy. It is then left to rest and ferment, giving it a great flavor. Hand-tossed to order, then covered with sauce and toppings, it makes its way into the Mugnaini wood-burning pizza oven (assembled in Italy) for a few minutes at a high temperature. All of the steps ensure a Neapolitan-style airy, crisp yet chewy crust.
Pizzas are available in one size — about 12 inches in diameter — and cut into six slices. I’d suggest ordering one per person then divvying up the varieties.
A recent favorite was the meatless Herbivore ($14) complete with red sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, onion, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced jalapenos, artichoke hearts, arugula and a tangy balsamic reduction.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Carnivore ($14), which touts salami, pepperoni, bacon and ham, but we swapped the ham for cherry tomatoes. I like how the meat’s saltiness is mellowed out by the juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
Fans of white pizza will adore the sauceless Bianca ($11). She’s got plenty of mozzarella and garlic, and is finished with oregano and freshly grated lemon zest. For an additional $1, it’s worth it to add pesto.
There are bags of kettle chips ($2) or a colorful side salad ($5) to pair with the pizzas. I prefer the healthy mix of leafy greens — no wilted iceberg here — topped with red and yellow cherry tomato halves, red onion slivers, freshly grated parmesan and accompanied by a flavorful balsamic and olive oil dressing.
From St. John’s Town Center to Orange Park to Nocatee and copious places in between, Pie95 is worth keeping tabs on for lunch or dinner. Weekly whereabouts are posted to Facebook and Instagram with hours and addresses, making it easy to plan a trip.
Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who will review restaurants every other week in the Dining section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.