In the big city here
Is that oven porn or what? It's Pitzze in Bethesda, Maryland,
or rather it's massive oven for baking pizzas and breads. The sourdough pizza
crusts are fantastic. Bread is wonderful. And everything there is made
from a sourdough culture. Heaven.
was given a tour of the oven area, up close and personal with the oven.
It is incredibly hot nearby, even with the door closed. The baking
peels have poles several feet long to reach all the way into the
cavernous interior. There are actually two huge ovens, this one facing
the front of the restaurant and another facing the back. Massive. The
manager told me that it took a whole month for the oven to become
sufficiently heated before it was used for baking. An employee must
stoke the oven on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the restaurant is
closed, because the oven cannot go a single day without energy
One bummer. The energy it takes? Not wood. Anthracite coal. I don't
know where the restaurant obtains the coal from, but I was told that it
burns much cleaner than wood. Less smoke. The environmental picture,
however, not so pretty, according to the few sites I found written in
plain English and unconnected to the coal industry. I am not
sufficiently immersed in the science to understand the real story, but
the non-renewable fuel source was a disappointment.]
Still, the Bethesda oven made me lightheaded. All I could think of was how good it would feel to bake a dough in that temple of an oven. I'd be happy to share the space for a communal experience. I can imagine the gasps of pleasure from bakers seeing those darkened crusts emerge and listening intently for the lovely crackling sounds of just-baked bread.
So, hop on the Metro to Bethesda, walk a couple of blocks, and visit Pitzze. Before you order, to whet your appetite, take a good long look at that oven; stare as much as you like. The taste of your pizza, sandwich bread or the slices delivered with your soup, will taste even better.
And if you're in Bethesda, walk a few blocks and get a few bagels at Bethesda Bagels. Even a New Yorker can enjoy these. I might have to go back and retaste these, just for professional purposes, of course.