Asheville's Pizza Mind: Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

The Proliferation of Pizza in the Triangle

Seemingly, the craft burger trend in the Triangle restaurant scene has cooled down and has now given way to the rise of another classic, yet trendy food: pizza. For restaurateurs, the recent popularity of the pizzeria makes economic sense. Technomic reported last year that pizza consumption has trended upwards in the last several years and is now at its highest level in the past four years.

The perennial slumber party staple has come back hot at the close of the 2017 year, and it looks like next year will bring another onslaught of restaurants in the area centered around pie, albeit many ventures veering more into the artisan variety that feature unique toppings over pizza-by-the-slice and your normal delivery ‘za.

Raleigh superstar chef Ashley Christensen recently revealed that she will open pizza shop Poolside Pie in the near future. The pizzeria will be located next to Poole’s Diner on South McDowell Street in downtown Raleigh and will focus on Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizza.

Nearby in downtown Raleigh, Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is slated to open inside the Morgan Street Food Hall and Market, the new cross-ordering food hall concept that will feature local eateries and retailers located in the Warehouse District. It will open sometime later this winter. According to its website, Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas will feature “high quality pizza from the freshest ingredients all day long”. The pizza joint will join a host of local eateries and vendors that include: Boba Brew, Cow Bar, Curry in a Hurry, Ginger + Soy, Raleigh Rolls and Carroll’s Kitchen.

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Neighborhood pizza parlor Oakwood Pizza Box recently opened on Person Street in downtown Raleigh. At the helm of the newly-minted thin-crust pizza joint is Anthony Guerra, the progeny of some locally well-known pizza stock–his family once owned Bella Mia in Cary. Oakwood Pizza Box offers whole specialty pizza and pizza-by-the-slice made fresh daily. It also offers a “6-Pack and a Pie” daily special for $27.50, which features a rotating six-pack selection of cold beer and a 18-inch cheese pie.

Oakwood Pizza Box joins a growing list of pizza shops in the downtown Raleigh vicinity like Fayetteville Street’s Pizza La Stella. Pizza La Stella specializes in Neapolitan, wood-fired pizza and also recently announced that its owners will take over the H-Street Kitchen space on Hillsborough Street and will re-open it as a wood-fired concept that will feature pizza and other wood-fired selections that include sandwiches and appetizers.

Pizza in Chapel Hill is firing on all cylinders as well.  MidiCi, as The Herald-Sun reports, will open on Franklin Street below Top of the Hill. The Los Angeles-based, nascent chain specializes in Neapolitan pizza made with non-GMO ingredients. It will join another California pizza chain, The Pizza Press, on Franklin Street and is set to open later this year as well.

Artisan pizza in the Carrboro-Durham region has been well-established in the last several years with a constellation of acclaimed shops like Tre Forni, Pizzeria Toro and Pizzeria Mercato all in the area. In Cary, Pizzeria Faulisi is also a new entry in the dynamic category of Neapolitan-style pizza.

The pizza trend is not just germane to the artisan, Neapolitan variety. Fast-casual pizza has blanketed the Triangle area, as seen by the recent, numerous openings of customizable pizza chains like Pieology, MOD Pizza, Blaze Pizza, Uncle Maddio’s and Your Pie that offer unlimited toppings and individual pies quick-fired in super-hot ovens.

With so many choices in the fastly-crowded pizza market, I am curious to see if the area can actually sustain the vast pool of artisan and fast-casual pizzerias, or, if the area starts to become overly saturated, places will start to flop quicker than a soggy New York slice. Until then, I’ll enjoy some “pizza mind” with the abundance of choices in the Triangle.

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