Jay Langfelder, of the wildly popular O.G. Wood Fire, now brings you Jay’s Artisan Pizza, an eat-in pizzeria in the heart of Kenmore. Langfelder, a veritable pizza-making genius, has a reputation for serving expertly prepared Neapolitan-style pizzas to long lines of devoted fans. And now that he has a permanent brick and mortar location, you won’t have to chase him around the city the next time that you are craving one of his first-rate creations.
Working within a tradition that emphasizes technique and methodology, Langfelder uses an ancient method of making dough that begins with a wild yeast sourdough starter, levito madre. In addition to the starter, and in true Neapolitan fashion, the dough contains just water, flour, and salt. Relieved to be cooking outside the extreme cooking conditions of the truck, “the new space allows him to have greater control over the dough,” which will ferment at room temperature for about 36 hours.
Langfelder is not attempting to serve DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or AVPN (Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana) pizza. He regards these designations as being something of a sham – arbitrary and unnecessarily limiting. He points out that most pizza makers in Naples do not adhere to the strict requirements of these designations. Moreover, as he mentioned during our conversation, a purchased logo on the door is no guarantee of good pizza.
Instead, He seeks out and serves the best ingredients that he can find from wherever he can find them. And, as a committed pizzaiolo, he has tried hundreds of tomatoes, flours, etc., in search of the best – letting his own palate be the judge.
Many ingredients will be sourced locally through partnerships with Gro-op, Plato Dale Farm, and Schwab Farm. But other ingredients, including flour, tomatoes, and aged cheeses, will come from Italy.
Since he was eight-years-old, Langfelder has been making pizza in the kitchen with his mom. He spent most of his career – 15 years—making pizza in a professional setting. Although he has spent time learning from pizzaiolos from Naples and elsewhere in the industry, he is largely self-taught, spending years experimenting with ingredients, ovens, and dough variations.
The new oven for the restaurant was hand built by Stefano Ferrara, a third generation oven builder from Naples, Italy. It will cook pizzas at an impressive 900 degrees for about one minute. The oven, which was customized to Neapolitan standards, was build and tiled in Naples.
During our visit, we sampled four pizzas. My personal favorite, which came highly recommended, was the speck. It was topped with garlic, truffle porcini sauce, bufala mozzarella, fontal, and smoked prosciutto. The pizza was almost buttery with a warm and sweet roasted garlic flavor that won me over immediately. My youngest son’s favorite was the amatriciana: tomato, bufala mozzarella, red onion, pancetta, and chili honey. He especially enjoyed the slight sweetness of the chili honey paired with the pleasantly salty pancetta. Both of my children, who are usually not crust eaters, told me that it was the best pizza that they had ever eaten and eagerly devoured the soft, airy, and appropriately charred crust. Neapolitan pizza, when done well, has a spotted or ‘leopard’ char on the crust that is reminiscent of a toasted marshmallow. Perhaps this is what won them over (as it did me).
In addition to pizza, the restaurant will serve a daily special of salad and charcuterie board. Langfelder wants customers to visit for the pizza, which is the star of the show. Although his pizzas are best eaten within minutes of leaving the oven, he will offer takeout. Takeout pizzas will be served unsliced to preserve the integrity of the crust. Beer and wine are coming soon. The restaurant’s official opening date is Tuesday, September 5.
Jay’s Artisan Pizza | 2872 Delaware Avenue | Kenmore, NY 14217 | (716) 322-1704 | Facebook