Bringing Comfort Through Pizza & Coffee at Anodyne Bay View
Some things are simply meant to go with your favorite morning beverage. Coffee and biscotti, coffee and cookies, coffee and breakfast foods, coffee and….pizza?
Yes, pizza. One Milwaukee company is delivering a unique experience to customers at Anodyne Bay View Café and Pizza.
“My husband is very Italian….We had a backyard pizza oven for a really long time. We, as a family, traveled a lot and traveled under the guise of eating, although don't tell my children that….for Matt and I, it was always about food,” says Lacee Perry, wife of Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company owner, Matthew McClutchy.
But other than a common love of food and pizza, Anodyne found themselves with a large open space in their Bay View cafe three years ago after they moved their coffee roaster to a different location.
Anodyne pizza chef Meara Downey recalls that it just didn’t feel quite right to have people sitting where the roaster used to be. So, they decided to bring a little bit of Italy to Milwaukee.
“It didn’t fit with the café...when the roaster was here there was the feeling and now that there's an oven here, it's just really cool to have something alive that people that are in getting coffee can peer in and look at and see what's happening," says Downey.
The 5500 pound pizza oven's brick and mortar came from Mount Vesuvius and was built by a man in Naples, Italy. The oven was custom built and shipped on a boat completely finished - making it a daunting task to install. However, Downey says it was well worth it.
“I didn’t have much to do with the oven getting here, but I lived in Italy for about six years," she says. "I was just in the cafe when I started working here and they said they were thinking about getting a pizza oven, and I said, 'Ok, you're crazy people. That's sounds fine.' And then the oven showed up, and (I remember thinking) 'I want to play with that.'"
For Anodyne, the same mentality and research that goes into sourcing and roasting their coffee goes into all of the components needed to make a classic, southern Italian pizza.
"It's not necessarily ingredients that need to make it Southern Italian, it's a lack of complication that makes it Italian. It's very simple; flour, salt, water, yeast and good toppings - and local if you can get them. The fresher things are...the more things you know how to do with what grows near year you and flavors to combine...the better your pizza is going to be," Downey explains. "That's the style of Neopolitan pizza is just simple and good and done right and enjoyed in good company, and that's what we're trying to do."
Part of what makes Anodyne’s pizza authentic is the heat source: wood. Everyday at 10 am, a fire is made, which gives the oven enough time to rise to 850 degrees.
Perry also notes that they are particular about the wood they source from the Milwaukee area.
"Wood is important because if it's wet or pops or sizzles, you can't necessarily get the oven to the temperature you want and keep it where you want it," she explains. "The wood comes from a number of different places. We kind of curate the wood and then take what we think is the best."
From grabbing the first dough ball to cutting a finished pizza, it takes about three or four minutes.
Since it’s first pizza came out of the oven, Anodyne has been attracting people near and far to their little piece of Italy. Downey says customers have come from Madison specifically for the pizza, and others who have visited Italy come to the cafe to get a taste of what they experienced in Europe. "It's just nice to have people that will come from far to do that," she says.
Lacee Perry admits that at first coffee and pizza may not seem compatible, but it’s the comfort that both can bring that makes the oven a natural fit for Anodyne.
“Coffee sort of brings a warm feeling to your belly. It wakes you up and I personally, still after all these years, wake up thinking 'Yay, coffee!' It's the same feeling with the oven, really. When 11:30 hits and lunch service starts I know that there's going to be a warm, hot oven that's busting out good pizza," she says. "So it's sort of that same nurturing feeling that coffee has in that it's very simple. If you don't mistreat coffee and if you're gentle to it and treat it well, it will serve you well. Same with pizza."
*Originally aired August 2016