By Julia Howard
Wood-fired, artisan pizza might be one of the most perfect foods on the planet. Crispy, cheesy, full of flavor — but it has to be done right. Locals Tina Rafferty and Paul Dudka discovered that the best pizza begins with fresh ingredients and the right oven.
Rafferty and Dudka own Fired Up Pizza that ‘opened shop’ at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market just 3 months ago. In that short time, Fired Up has become well known for its breakfast pizza and classic pepperoni, among other 10” specialty pies available every Saturday.
For Rafferty and Dudka, Fired Up Pizza is a pop-up pizza shop and retirement plan all-in-one. “I love the positivity at the farmers’ market,” says Rafferty. “As a new business, it’s a great place to offer and perfect our products, and customers love to watch their pizzas being prepared.”
At the farmers’ market, Dudka runs their custom-built, wood-fired pizza oven just outside the mall entrance. Dudka burns hardwoods to keep the oven at a constant 600 degrees no matter the weather. For him, this temperature guarantees the perfect, crisp crust with the right amount of char. Meanwhile, just inside the building, Rafferty creates pizzas made to order.
“We truly enjoy working together,” said Rafferty on beginning a business with her boyfriend. “And, we both love the farmers’ market,” she adds.
Pursuing a pizza business has meant a lot of trial and error for the couple. One of their biggest challenges has been perfecting their dough recipe to a consistency that, when dusted with cornmeal, will come off a peel without sticking. A ‘peel’ is the shovel-like tool used to slide the pizza into and out of the oven. Rafferty and Dudka have also had to experiment with cook times and temperature while getting to know their wood-fired oven.
Despite these challenges, Rafferty and Dudka’s goals have remained the same: to offer a great artisan pizza with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.
What’s next for Fired Up Pizza? “We’re always experimenting and taste-testing,” explains Rafferty. “We are looking forward to expanding our offerings to calzones and pizza rolls in the future,” she says. The couple hopes to attend more local events and to offer catering options for private parties and gatherings in the near future. But, for now, you can find them at the Bow Tie entrance at the Wilton Mall serving up fresh pizzas to hungry shoppers every Saturday.
This week’s recipe: Breakfast Pizza