SAVANNAH welcomed a new pizza joint the weekend of March 10, and it has quickly become a hotspot in the downtown food scene.
Green Fire Pizza, owned and operated by Russell Lee, is a fast-casual, European-style pizzeria specializing in organic wood-fired brick-oven pizza.
Lee, who also co-owns McDonough’s Restaurant and Lounge with his father, thought the petite white building, with lime green trim, at 236 Drayton Street would be an ideal location for the new eatery, as it sits across the street from McDonough’s.
From deep-dish to Jersey-style, Savannah offers a wide variety of deliciously cheesy pies. But Green Fire Pizza has a secret weapon that makes their Neapolitan pizza something to write home about.
The pièce de résistance is their revolving brick oven that was handcrafted by a team of world champion Italian pizza makers, who have been building and designing brick ovens for over 20 years.
“It’s a bad ass oven, “ Lee proudly boasts.
This rotating oven, which spins at a set pace, maintains a consistent temperature. This eliminates hotspots that will burn the pizza and cold spots that will create an uneven bake.
While oak and pecan wood fuel the brick oven, it also utilizes gas, making for easy lighting. To further ensure uniformity across pizzas, this world-renowned oven’s revolving floor is heated.
When the pizzas enter the 1,000 degree brick oven, the dough is blistered with charred bubbles. The high temperature sears the crust, making it crispy and flaky.
Since each authentic Neapolitan pizza pie takes only 2 ½ minutes, a random pizza craving is totally worth the pop in.
Lee, who was born and raised in Savannah, was so passionate about disseminating quality pizza to downtown Savannah, that prior to opening Green Fire Pizza, he attended a wood fired brick oven pizza school in New York.
While there he not only learned how to make authentic Neapolitan pizza from world champion pizza artisans, but also the theory of wood-fired pizza and how to use the revolving oven properly.
The pizza dough is made with organic enriched unbleached and unbromated flour, making it a more natural and less processed product. It takes 2 days for the dough to properly proof, a process that takes organization and preparation.
When they are ready to bake, each ball of dough is hand stretched into a thin disk and cooked until airy and golden brown.
With a wide variety of house and specialty pizzas, Lee features high-quality ingredients on each unique pie.
Take the margarita pizza for example. This pizza is topped with dollops of house-made Roma tomato basil sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil. It is in its simplicity that the complex flavors of the ingredients shine.
The sauce is made from Italian Roma tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, basil and olive oil. While it tastes like a sweet ripe tomato, there is no added sugar.
After it is fully cooked, the juices are drained and ground through a food mill, giving it a chunky and thick consistency, rather than smooth.
Another soon to be classic is the Smokin’ Green Fire pizza, which has a creamy and pungent roasted red pepper sauce, a variety of colorful roasted peppers, sausage, Romano and parmesan cheese, as well as fresh basil.
My personal favorite, which was riddled with garlicky zest, was the Gourmet White Pizza with an olive and garlic base, sundried tomatoes, provolone, feta, fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and onions.
Though pizza traditionalists have numerous menu options, Green Fire Pizza also caters to the foodie adventurers, who see pizza as a vehicle for anything delicious.
If that is you, check out their Crustacean Sensation Pizza which features shrimp, calamari and blue crab served in a lobster sherry cream sauce and topped with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and imported provolone.
With a variety of organic vegetables, imported cheeses, gourmet meats, and handmade dough, Green Fire Pizza plans to fire up more than just pizza. Frittatas, loaves of Italian bread, and stuffed baked potatoes will also grace the menu.
This pizzeria, which shares a wall with Woof Gang Bakery Drayton, currently sits in the heart of construction. However, do not be deterred, as towering hotels and hungry travelers will soon surround this area.
In true Savannah style, Green Fire Pizza is an outdoor eatery. Patrons can wait in a single file line to order 12- or 16-inch pizzas from a walk-up counter inside a narrow indoor space.
With limited standing room, pizza is tossed, stretched, garnished, and baked right before your eyes. The rotating brick oven, teeming with pizzas, is truly the centerpiece of this eatery.
For those that only want one slice of ‘za, about 2-3 fresh pizzas sit behind a glass shield beckoning to be devoured. Each slice is re-crisped in the oven just before serving.
Green Fire Pizza also offers about 20 craft beers, some on tap, along with wine and other refreshments.
If you choose to sit and indulge, there are several outdoor tables that seat up to 6 people, along with handmade, high-top, double-sided bar studded with red stools. While some tables have umbrellas, others are set under a large white overhang. Lee plans to set up more tent-like shelters to protect patrons from the outdoor elements.
When sitting outside, one can enjoy an ice-cold beer and slice of pizza while listening to any number of bands that will regularly perform at this establishment.
Lee plans to compete with the other late night bites by staying open Fridays and Saturdays until 2 AM, Sunday until midnight, and weekdays until 11 PM.
For those that cannot make the trip, Green Fire Pizza will deliver to the downtown area, as far as Forsyth Park. Lee dreams to someday equip delivery personnel with iconic lime green bikes for ease of travel and identification of his product.
Even more, if you are across the street at McDonough’s and have a hankering for pizza, Lee and his staff will deliver a pie directly to your table.
Read my article online HERE in the Connect Savannah newspaper