Restaurant review: GoreMade Pizza

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

"We don't have a lot of things on our menu, so we want everything to be special," I overheard Nick Gore tell a customer at the small bar in wordplay-named GoreMade Pizza. The lofty goal cooked into Gore's assessment of his Italian Village restaurant is largely met.

Credit this to focus, talent, impeccable sourcing and the imposing hardware showcased in the two-month-old eatery's inviting room: a domed Acunto oven that, to pizza aficionados, signals seriousness and Neapolitan origins.

Handmade in Naples, Italy - sacred ground for pizza - the wood-fired oven maintains a temperature of around 1,000 degrees and bakes pies in about a minute. It's a huge improvement over the oven affixed to a Subaru that Gore used when I first sampled his wares several years ago from the mobile operation he often parked at the Clintonville Farmers Market - where Gore purchased many ingredients.

Local farmers and artisans continue to figure heavily in Gore's new business. Now their products are highlighted in an appealing little space with vintage brick walls, mod ambient music plus wooden benches and wooden tables with a high-gloss finish handcrafted by GoreMade's staff, family and friends.

Another prominent feature bears witness that, unlike too many establishments, GoreMade actually walks the "local" talk: a busy chalkboard announcing local ingredients, area producers and specials.

This informs intriguing cocktails du jour such as a sour-cherry-and-tarragon soda, made in town exclusively for GoreMade by Foraged & Sown, spiked with OYO vodka ($9). Prefer a brew? About 10 craft beers are offered in cans (most are $5).

One of the few starters is an ever-changing, high-quality Charcuterie Board. My small order ($14) included thin discs of terrific soppressata made in Columbus by Salumi Couture; wonderful Ohio cheeses from Kokoborrego (taleggio-like "Gilead") and Integration Acres (goat gouda); sliced Honeycrisp apples from Branstool Orchards; lovely, sweet "teardrop" peppers and sunflower sprouts; imported prosciutto with a velvety texture that attests to its 24 months of aging; and comforting house bread twists served with reduced balsamic vinegar.

The same intensified sweet vinegar makes its way onto GoreMades's single salad ($9 "with all the fixins"). Likewise elevated by farmers market ingredients, my simple-but-delightful salad featured uncommonly tender greens, warm smoky bacon, feta cheese and red onions.

As promised, the pizzas are special - if expensive (most 12-inch pies cost $16). But genuine Neapolitan-style crusts that are toasty, super-thin, fleetingly crisp and sport a whiff of wood-smoke plus that sought-after "leopard spotting" char along the edge are hard to find and difficult to achieve.

The delicious Porkistopheles, one of three pre-designed pizzas available, layers GoreMade's superb crust with crowd-pleasing toppings of seared pepperoni (attractively "curled-up"), bacon and clumps of fresh sausage gently flavored with sage and fennel seed. Lively crushed tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese grace every pizza unless noted.

The tomato-less Clintonvillain pizza is another knockout. Its name refers to the pie's star: killer shiitake mushrooms harvested from the Clintonville neighborhood. Smoked salt and truffle oil (I'd prefer less) contribute to the pizza's distinct and "meaty" charm.

But my favorite GoreMade pizza was another meatless wonder that I designed with all local toppings. Sweet and supple delicata squash, deep-flavored caramelized onions and garden-fresh spinach combined for a memorable dinner.

Fortunately, I remembered to order dessert, too. That night, it was Sally's Apple Tart ($8) - a soulful, deep-dish crostata with an oat-flecked crumble topping cooked exclusively for GoreMade by a local concern referred to on the chalkboard as "The Bake Hous." After savoring every bite of it with every sip of an exceptional hot toddy ($7) made with Branstool cider and locally distilled smoked-apple whiskey from 451 Spirits, Nick Gore said to me, "Thanks for finding us."

"Back at ya!" I answered.

GoreMade Pizza

936 N. Fourth St.,

Italian Village