The first thing you see when you walk into Blackbird Woodfire is the gigantic wood oven glowing like a big, bronzed beacon in the middle of the dining room. It’s both the centerpiece of the room and the heart of the restaurant’s philosophy.
It’s all part of owner Casey Absey’s obsession with dough. The dough at Blackbird Woodfire is made with a secret blend of milled flour and North Dakota spring wheat that’s cured and lovingly rolled out before it’s popped into the 5,500 pound, imported-from-Tuscany behemoth of an oven to create just the right flavor and texture.
Casey and Chef Joe Swegarden emphasize quality ingredients throughout the menu, turning out artisanal pizzas, salads and small plates that feature organic herbs and vegetables from local growers whenever possible. The modest but solid beer list also features beers from a number of regional brewers.
I’d heard a lot of buzz about the bison meatballs, so I started with an order of my own.
The meatballs themselves were pretty dry (the primary hazard of working with bison in any form), but the sauces that garnished them were a revelation, the perfect blend of sweet and savory with just a hint of mint. It was a delicious topping for the baguette and pizza dough triangles that accompanied the dish.
I also tried a lunch-sized BLT pizza, topped with enough thick bacon and crisp greens to make it look more like a salad than a pizza — which is a good thing, in my book. The combination of the lettuce’s tart dressing, the saltiness of the bacon and a zingy sauce with just a taste of harissa was fabulous.
The crust is worth the hype. It’s thick and chewy, buttery on the inside and a little crispy on the outside, a mix of textures that reminds me more of a great baguette than a pizza crust.
The thickness of the crust and the plethora of uncut greens made the pizza a nightmare to eat (To cut or not to cut? It’s messy either way.) but the taste was definitely worth the effort. I’d order this again in a second.
If you’re a big eater, you might want to order a little extra, since portions are fairly small. You’re paying for the presentation and superb ingredients here, not buffet style plates.
Blackbird Woodfire is a solid addition to downtown, a place that’s clearly having fun blending fine dining presentation with a laid back atmosphere.
If you ever visited the space in its previous incarnation as The Pita Pit, you’ll be especially impressed by how they’ve transformed it into a sort of rustic-glam hangout, all exposed brick and evocative art, the lyrics from The Beatles’ “Blackbird” artfully scrawled on the wall.
The restaurant also boasts one of the coolest restrooms in town.
(I know, I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either, but it totally needs to be said. There’s a metallic leopard print paint job! It’s just not in my nature to ignore that!) Gentlemen, you’ll have to let us ladies know if the mens’ room is half as interesting.
Have you tried Blackbird Woodfire yet? What did you think?
Bus: Routes 13, 13U, 17
Monday: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday to Saturday: 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
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