Yes, it’s true. We drove to Kingston for a pizza. I suppose it’s not that far-fetched; my father once drove from Southern Ontario to Cleveland for a coke. Although I have no idea what may have motivated him (and I might not actually want to know), we were chasing a culinary rumour. Keeping in mind that we’ve been soliciting opinions on pizza from the people we know for the past few months, we found it somewhat uncanny that two separate individuals mentioned "this place in Kingston… Something like woodpecker, right downtown – best pizza ever”. As fate would have it, Susan was sent to Kingston for work and managed to discover the source of these rumours; a little place called Woodenheads. When she returned, she was determined to return with me, a camera, and an appetite. (spoiler alert: she really liked it).
Until this point in my life, the only pizza restaurant that I’ve ever seen packed for lunch was a Pizza Hut, featuring a 2-for-1 all you can eat buffet. Clearly, that doesn’t count. Had we shown up that Saturday afternoon to Woodenheads without a reservation, we probably wouldn’t have been turned away, but it would have been close. It's obvious that this place has quite a local following, and more importantly, it seems to handle the popularity with ease. Service was attentive, but didn`t over-commit with lengthy menu descriptions or excessive conversation. The team of chefs appeared professional and efficient, expertly preparing each pizza with clockwork timing; totally indifferent to the eye of the customer as we watched them through a transparent barrier. The restaurant itself was well lit, clean, and full of character, seemingly designed to emphasize the beautiful brick wood fire oven in the centre of the room.
The margherita pizza I ordered might actually be the best wood fire pizza I'll ever eat: juicy tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, pools of mozzarella, ample sauce, served on a crunchy smoky ultra-thin crust cooked to perfection. Combined with the immaculate presentation, I can’t imagine how anyone could improve on this. On the other hand, it is easily the most expensive pizza I've ever ordered; factoring in the gas, travel time, and actual cost of the meal itself. Given the distance, Woodenheads might not be the number one choice for Ottawa area diners, but I certainly hope the people of Kingston truly appreciate what they have.
I was in Kingston on duty travel a few months ago and we had dinner at a nearby pizza joint that the locals recommended. Turns out it was a wood fire pizza place, and it was fantastic. So when I got home, I convinced Jay that it was worth the 2-hour drive to check it out. On the day we made the trip, it was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and a table right at the window was the perfect choice. Although, you don't really have to worry about lighting in this restaurant. The tall windows running the length of the facade let in all the light you need, and since the back half of the dining room is raised by four feet, the whole place has a great view of the busy street. The walls on the inside are stripped down to the rough brick work, and the high ceilings don't hide any of the air ducts. The kitchen is open-concept, which is great because guests can watch their pizza being cooked in the wood fire oven, a centrepiece in this cozy restaurant. The tables are a bit close together, but once you've got a beautiful plate of hot pizza in front of you, it's easy to forget everyone else.
As usual, Jay ordered a beer and I got a glass of wine from over the ocean. It was great to just enjoy the atmosphere of the crowded restaurant and each other's company while we waited for the pizza to cook, because once it got to the table, my tasty lunch demanded my full attention. I ordered the Arbe Amore, a popular choice. When it arrived at the table, I was enamoured. Brushes of white, uncooked flour still evidenced in places, small, button mushrooms evenly distributed, shredded artichoke hearts throughout, and a few strategically placed sundried tomatoes. When I pulled out a piece, the crust kept its form and all the toppings stayed on; a true sign of a well-made thin crust. And it tasted so good! A nice tangy sauce, the great substance and texture of the mushrooms with the fresh taste of the artichoke hearts, and every once in a while, the sweetness of a sundried tomato. I don't think I've ever eaten a pizza so fast. It looked great; it tasted great. Best wood-fire pizza place I've been to yet.
If you're looking for a great date place, a restaurant for a family occasion or just somewhere to get food with friends, Woodenheads is perfect. They have a wide selection of food besides their large pizza selection, the atmosphere is great, and the service is above expectation.
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