One of the oldest lauded jokes of our time begins with the redundant “Why did the chicken cross the road?” line. Whether there’s a metaphor being the end result or a pale attempt to crack a child’s smile, it drives us to the point of lunacy because there’s only so much you can do with a joke about a proverbial chicken. And for chefs, I imagine these feelings to be true when it comes to having the bird on the menu.
Short of serving it charred with a drizzle of pumpkin-infused caramel and sprinkle of ground nuts for the autumn menu, too often chicken feels like the ultimate give-up dish. It demands to be on the menu for two reasons: those with a less adventurous spirit and for kids whose nutritional value ends at nugget.
Reinventing the chicken is like reinventing the wheel…it cannot be done. Ever. What can be achieved is the approach that Pie Tap Pizza Workshop and Bar has assumed. The workshop portion of their title plays to their advantage: the introduction of a rotisserie. Yes, a pizza joint that does chicken, and does it with several variations.
Before we hatch into the chicken dishes, understanding how Chef Giovanni Mauro’s, Pie Tap’s “dough expert,” creates their dough (used for the pizzas, bread puffs and knots) is key. From the description provided by a press release, “the dough is created with only four ingredients that consumers can recognize and find in their own homes – water, unbleached flour and sea salt with just a dash of olive oil at the end. The dough rests and rises for 96 hours from start to finish, allowing the dough to stay light and flavorful.”
This recipe for dough is best filtered by trying the garlic knots from the appetizer menu. These bready morsels, served with a whipped provolone asiago for dipping pleasure, come as close to masticating on a fluffy cloud without the nuisance of feeling bloated post-intake. A satisfactory partner to the garlic knots is their spiedini; a savory oven-fired skewer of fontina cheese comfortably wrapped with prosciutto, and the salt balancing the mild flavor of the dairy.
To fully gauge the entirety of their chicken-stuff, ordering the bird in various forms of delivery was a necessity. As a pizza place, first and foremost, the chicken pie tied together their Sicilian root with barnyard bird. Firing on all cylinders was this rather delectable concoction utilizing their rotisserie chicken with house-made bourbon barbecue sauce (in lieu of marinara), bacon, red onion, pepperoncini and cilantro, smothered in a smoky mozzarella.
One must not leave an Italian eatery without twirling pasta around their forked utensil. With the slowly-cooked chicken again being the dominate protein of the dish, the fettuccine’s texture mimics that of the dough, finding that sweet spot of not being under or overcooked. The widely sliced noodles dance in a creamy mix of arugula pesto, diced tomato and garlic, then topped with pine nuts for an earthy greeting.
Removing the element of Italy from the dishes, the anchor of this ship is the rotisserie chicken – served half or whole. Slow cooking a chicken on a spit requires a dialed-in methodology which, when overcooked results in dryness and when undercooked results in e.coli. Fortunately for us, they have it locked in and makes for a healthy option from an atypical pizza joint. With several sides to choose from for your two, the cauliflower mash warranted repeated bites while the mac and cheese fulfilled dreams of bigger life ambitions.
A veteran of the military who grew up in the south, Cody Neathery’s interests include dive bars, architecture and history. @NeatCody