I had a fantastic opportunity today thanks to the Tallahassee Food Bloggers Association (#tfba). The group got together for the first time and went behind the scenes of a new restaurant in Tallahassee. That restaurant was Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza. Special thanks to the TFBA and Joe Mama’s manager, Devon Nunneley for getting this event together.
During the event, I got to explore the restaurant. I met the chefs, owner, managers, staff, fellow local food bloggers, saw the kitchen, wood fire oven, food preparation, learn about their family/restaurant story and their food philosophy.
There was a lot of great, in depth nerdy food knowledge that I learned at Joe Mama’s, especially concerning pizza. Here are some of the things I think the average food goer and foodie would want to know:
- Joe Mama’s is not a chain, but it does have another location in Port Saint Joe. The original (in Port Saint Joe) is a family run business. It is run by a husband and wife team. The new location (in Tallahassee) is being run by the daughter and son from the original location.
- Joe Mama’s uses fresh, never frozen ingredients. The restaurant does not even own a freezer.
- The ingredients are a combination of local and imported. Local ingredients make up most of the menu. Imported items are used for specialty ingredients (such as the certified San Marzano Tomatoes from Italy)
- It does not matter what kind of wood is used in the oven as long as it is a hard wood. The pizzas are not in the oven long enough to absorb flavors from the wood.
- The goal of Joe Mama’s was to create a version of classic Italian Neapolitan Pizza that had “American Flare” to it.
- The dough is made in house from a combination of Italian 00 and American flours. Once in the wood fire oven, the pizza cannot simply sit there. It needs to be shifted and lifted in order to create the correct texture and finish.
- The oven cooks at 700 degrees. It retains heat so well that when the staff comes in the next day it is still in the 500 degree range.
- The owner likes a crispy crust on his pizza – I approve of this.
Since there were 10 bloggers at the event I am going to keep my post to the point.
The restaurant feels like a family owned business. The staff, owner, and managers will extremely welcoming. The layout of the place is cozy, and has black and white photo’s from the original location scattered around the restaurant. It really makes you feel like its a great place to grab a slice, order a drink, and have a good time with your friends.
Something I didn’t realize until the owner spoke, a lot of people have never had wood fire pizza before. He has had customers who think their pizza is burnt! Instead of trying to explain it, I have posted the description from the menu, I think it gets the point across.
Pizza (from joemamaspizza.com)
We suggest a maximum of 4 toppings to ensure proper baking of your pie.”
Here are some views from the kitchen, lots of cool equipment:
It was nice to see they bake the bread for their sandwiches in house. Underneath the oven you can see some unbaked bread and chicken wings marinating in spices. The wings are baked and then finished in the wood fire oven.
Our meal started with the house salad (which prepared table side). The salad had greens, artichokes, prosciutto, red onion, parmesan, olives, croutons, and vinaigrette. It was a very enjoyable salad. I would suggest being a fan of salty flavors if you are interested in the salad. The artichokes, olives, prosciutto, and cheese all have that flavor. The vinaigrette does a good job of balancing the salad. If the ingredients sound appealing, give the salad a shot.
So how was the pizza? That’s why your really reading this after all. It’s fantastic. I don’t know how this family managed to combine classic Italian pizza with American style, but they did it. This pizza hit all the right notes for me. We got to try 3 specialty pizzas and a classic cheese pizza.
I’m not going to break down these pizzas individually. You know why? It isn’t necessary. What I was told was what I got. All of the pizzas had fresh toppings, crispy/flavorful dough, and fantastic cheese. The biggest compliment I can give Joe Mama’s? All of the pizza’s tasted completely different. It didn’t matter how similar or different the pizzas were. Each one had it’s own identity and purpose on the menu. My favorite pizza that I tried was the Fumoso. The pecan pesto sauce was killer and the speck had a deep ham flavor.
The house specialty pizza’s are defiantly more geared for the foodie, but they have a create your own pizza option would should make any pizza fan happy.
My first visit to Joe Mama’s will not be my last. I am happy to say I have a new go to pizza place in Tallahassee. It was a perfect blend of Italian and American pizza flavors with truly fresh ingredients.
Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza
1307 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL
Sun – Thurs 5:00 PM – 10:00PM
Fri. & Sat 5:00PM – 11:00 PM