Gourmet pizzas get fresh, local

Chris Bardol, owner of Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria in Michiana Shores, Ind., prepares a pizza for baking. Photo by Bryan Clapper

By BRYAN CLAPPER
bryan@offthewater.com

If “pizza” brings to mind flash-frozen disks of cardboard crust and plastic toppings, Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria in Michiana Shores, Ind. might be the perfect remedy.

Chef-owner Chris Bardol approaches his pies the same way a Michelin-starred chef might approach a signature rack of lamb or beef tenderloin dish: fresh, local ingredients prepared expertly.

Bardol and his wife opened Stop 50 just in time for the Fourth of July in 2006, and have developed a following by continuing to improve on pizza’s classic preparation. By baking their pies in a wood-fired oven at around 800 degrees, Stop 50 sets itself apart from competition in the area by getting back to pizza’s roots.

“It’s a very extreme, high heat and dry heat. In our case we’re using all wood – primarily oak and apple wood and cherry,” Bardol said. “We’ve got a nice crackery outside with a chewy center – the pies are done in 90 seconds or less.”

Because of the fast cooking time, Bardol said the focus of the pizza must be on its fresh ingredients.

“There’s not a ton of toppings because you only have 90 seconds to bake whatever you’re putting in the oven. So the cheese is a fresh mozzarella, and you need to have fresh ingredients in this, otherwise it’s not going to work,” he said.

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