The bar was set pretty high, then, when we were drawn to visit The Copper Oven (at Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery) by the small "Wood Fired Pizza" sign out on the edge of the highway. The winery and restaurant are housed in an eye-catching red barn that is perched on a rolling hill with terrific views of Lake Cayuga.
|Dog-friendly rear deck dining|
|"They didn't give me any pizza"|
- FunGuy with crème fraîche, mushrooms, chives, smoked salt, and and truffle oil
- Summer's Bounty with crème fraîche, Roma tomatoes, corn, basil, and lemon salt
- The Godfather with red sauce, Italian sausage, peppers, and caramelized onions
We started by sharing some superb salads of local greens topped with beets and goat cheese, and we ordered a bottle of Cuvée Red, a vineyard blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and chancellor grapes. It was an excellent $15 pizza wine.
This limited-menu pizza restaurant was built around that copper oven. According to the website, "The core of our 6,000 pound Le Panyol oven is made up of Terre Blanche (white earth), a kaolinic clay that has been specially harvested in France since 1840 for the many special properties that make it ideal for wood fired cooking."
The crust was identical, and spectacular, on all three pies. Unlike the typical Neapolitan, there was no soupy wet spot in the center. Each pie had an ideal proportion of toppings to that thin crust, so that it was balanced in both flavor and texture.
It's hard to pick a favorite here. The Godfather was the most traditional, and the quality of the toppings was evident in every bite. Most surprising was the Summer's Bounty, but the crème fraîche was the right ingredient to help the Roma tomatoes and sweet corn succeed on a pizza.
Getting a very slight edge as overall favorite was the FunGuy, because the flavors of the cheddar, mushrooms, truffle oil, and chives were in such harmony. Bursting with umami to complement the perfect texture. And, on each pie, the cornicione had its own excellent and full flavor.
In other parts of America, folks are paying $100 a seat for this kind of artisan-and-farm-to-table meal. Beyond being a spectacular meal, this was also a wonderful bargain. Destination pizza, lovely outdoor setting, good service, good wine.
|The Copper Oven|
It's hard to go wrong in this stretch along Lake Cayuga, but The Copper Oven was our top can't-miss dining and pizza destination.