Pizza aficionados may squabble over the size of air pockets, sauce-to-crust ratios, the thickness and crispiness of dough and, if you're from New York, how well a slice can be folded in half when directed at your mouth.
In a city where a booming pizza renaissance is taking shape, arguments over who makes the best pie are quickly joining the ranks of po-boys quarrels and red beans rants.
Newcomer Wood Pizza Bistro & Taphouse is a quiet contender on the New Orleans pizza landscape, but its modest approach shouldn't be overlooked.
The restaurant, which opened its doors in January, sits cater-corner from Donald Link's Cochon and Butcher in the Warehouse District. While the space inside the restaurant is small — accommodating little more than a bar and a few stand-up tables — the large patio decorated with hanging lights provides ample room for dining, drinking and occasional musical performance.
The pies at Wood Pizza are of the authentic Italian persuasion. They're fired in a wood-burning oven and their thin, chewy crusts are peppered with charcoal-dusted air pockets.
Will Salisbury, who helms the pizza oven at Wood, most recently worked at John Besh and Alon Shaya's Pizza Domenica, and the rustic Italian influence is evident in the pies he creates. The simple and short dinner and lunch menu consists of classic pizzas, several well-executed appetizers and a slew of beer, wine and cocktail options.
A margherita pizza is a spot-on rendition of the Italian classic: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, a touch of olive oil and nothing more.
Salisbury forgoes tomatoes on a decadent mushroom pizza, upon which an assortment of meaty, roasted fungi are nestled atop rich garlic cream and topped with razor-thin shaved red onions, slices of Asiago and mozzarella cheeses and a barely-set sunny-side-up egg.
The pepperoni pie features large discs of melted mozzarella and is drizzled with olive oil.
Appetizers include a generous portion of calamari: lightly battered and fried, they are served with plump marinara sauce and lemony caper aioli, perfect to whet the appetite or soak up a frosty wheat ale, of which eight varieties are offered on tap.
A plate of sea scallops ups the ante and is among the more sophisticated dishes on the menu. Seared until golden on the outside, the scallops retain their silky interior and are served on a bed of crunchy, coriander-roasted cauliflower. The dish is balanced by cooling dollops of Greek yogurt, buttery Marcona almonds, mint leaves and black sesame seeds.
Salads are basic and straightforward. The Caesar includes golden-fried croutons, lots of black pepper, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. The house version boasts briny pepperoncini and red wine vinaigrette.
Wood's less-is-more stance on ingredients is apparent, but its approach to beer is anything but. The diminutive front room features an ample bar, where drinkers can choose from more than 40 beers on tap. The brew selections are organized on the menu by variety, and each listing includes the draft's geographic origin, ale type and alcohol content.
While the large outdoor space lends itself to a night of casual fun while the weather holds, it appears ill suited for the inevitable summer days that carry threats of inclement weather. Those looking for a night out of rustic pizza and some Warehouse District ambience on a crisp autumn day or breezy spring evening will find it at Wood Pizza.