800 Degrees Three Fires
Where: 5129 Illinois Road
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Outdoor seating? Yes
Credit cards accepted? Yes
•Garlic bread, $4.50
•Mista salad, $8 whole/$4 half
•Margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, $9
•Blanca pizza with white sauce, mozzarella, green olive, basil, garlic and chile flakes, $9.50
•Pepperoni pizza with tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, oregano, $10.25
•Hawaiian pizza with tomato, mozzarella, pineapple, roasted red onion, cotto ham, $10.25
•Funghi pizza with tomato, mushrooms, fontina, thyme, garlic oil, $10.50
•800 Degree pizza with tomato, spicy sausage, mozzarella, ricotta, roasted red peppers, chili oil, Italian parsley, $11.50
•Pollo BBQ pizza with chicken, mozzarella, roasted red onion, scallion, goat cheese, cilantro and chive oil, $11.50
•Carne pizza with tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, sweet sausage, cotto, spicy coppa, bacon and oregano, $13.50
•Bambino pizza (for kids only), cheese, $4.95; pepperoni, $5.50; and sausage, $5.70
•Olive oil cake, $4
Tired of pizza? You won't be once you've tried 800 Degrees Three Fires pizza, located on Illinois Road.
I liked its sister restaurant, 800 Degrees Wood Fired Pizza on Lima Road, well enough when I tried it a couple years ago, but Manager Matt Rogers has kicked it up a notch with the new southwest eatery. For one thing, it's a full-service sit down restaurant. And the new eatery has two wood-fired ovens and a wood burning hearth, compared with one oven at its northwest location.
The wood-fired ovens and hearth give the pizza an entirely different taste than a traditional oven. As Rogers says on 800 Degrees' Facebook page, “Our goal is to allow our patrons to experience foods cooked before microwaves and gas-powered stoves.”
If you're lucky, you'll smell the wood fire burning before you even walk through the door of the eatery at 5129 Illinois Road, west of Jefferson Pointe. (By the way, if it's parked full in front, there's plenty of parking in back — and a door.)
The interior is industrial chic, with concrete floors and exposed ductwork. It was bustling the day we were there, but not so busy we had to wait for a table.
For once, nobody in our group was in a hurry, so we could take all the time we wanted to make our selections — and that was just for the beer. With 14 craft beers on draft, it was a tough choice, but I can tell you this: You can't go wrong with the Lexington Brewing Company Kentucky Bourbon Ale. It's aged in bourbon barrels, so it has the distinct smell and faint taste of bourbon. This is a beer meant to be sipped, not chugged.
The Boulder Beer Company Mojo Risin' Nitro India Pale Ale was “hoppy” — too bitter for me. I didn't taste the Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale, but was told it was “citrus-y” and similar in taste to Blue Moon.
Four of us went to dinner together, so we ordered three pizzas, which are about 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Three Fires pizzas only come in one size, and they're pretty big for one person to polish off. Our order provided enough to share with plenty to take home for leftovers.
As we waited for our pizza, I enjoyed Three Fires' Mista salad, with greens, carrot, cucumbers, fennel, red onion, Parmesan, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. The assorted greens were fresh and crisp, and the pine nuts added flavor and crunch. It was really an outstanding salad with a light vinaigrette dressing and lots of shredded Parmesan.
The pizzas were all quite good and stood on their own merits. Be forewarned, this is not the pizza your kids are used to. The ingredients and toppings are refreshingly different from chain pizza places, as is the crust, with its smoky, charred flavor.
Let's start with the Pollo BBQ pizza, topped with chicken, mozzarella, roasted red onion, scallions, goat cheese, fresh cilantro and chive oil. One member of our party looked at is suspiciously; particularly the green sauce drizzled across it. Not to worry, it was just chive oil. The barbecue sauce was applied sparingly, allowing the flavor of the chicken, onion, cheese and cilantro to shine through.
The carne pizza was topped with pepperoni, sweet sausage, cotto (Italian salami) spicy coppa (Italian cold cut) bacon and oregano. It was a little spicy and not overdone with meat.
The 800 Degrees was the spiciest of the three pizzas, due to spicy sausage and chili oil. Dollops of cheese were a nice contrast to the heat.
The four of us shared an interesting-sounding dessert, olive oil cake, which was orange scented and topped with whipped cream, pine nuts and garnished with a few sliced strawberries. It was interesting, but I don't think I'd order it again.
Service was excellent; our waiter stopped by frequently, was able to answer all our questions and was patient when we couldn't even get beyond the beer menu.
I suppose it didn't hurt that one of the members of our party took a phone call during dinner with some really fantastic news, putting us all in a celebratory mood.
My meal at 800 Degrees was memorable both for the good news we shared and for the outstanding food and drink. After my experience there, I never want to go back to chain-store pizza again. It doesn't even begin to compare.