The blistered edge of the pizza pie was the telltale sign that the pizza oven was:
1. Somewhere around 700-800 degrees.
2. Fueled by wood, which is the best friend of pizza crust.
But I couldn’t smell smoke filtering into the dining room. The venting system must be excellent at Millville Pizza Co., which opened last week on Harborview Drive on the Gig Harbor waterfront.
That high-heat oven and a resilient dough are two stalwarts for the new pizza restaurant from John and Alyssa Ross. Open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, this is the first restaurant for both, although they own another small business.
The oven is from high-end commercial pizza oven maker Mugnaini. Ross fuels the oven with apple wood. It’s a completely wood-fired oven with no gas plumbing.
The 1,200-square-foot pizzeria has seating for 30 spread among two- and four-seat tables and a dine-in bar adjacent to the octagonal pizza oven, tiled in vivid blue.
Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to withhold criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month.
The space: The building previously held a nail salon, but historically it was a mercantile site. Ross overhauled the interior down to the original fir floor. A newly built eating bar is made from reclaimed fir. Yes, that really is a turntable record player in the dining room.
The dining room: A tall ceiling and lots of windows made for a slightly noisy dining experience, but not as noisy had the floor been concrete like so many restaurants are doing these days (please restaurants stop this practice, I beg of you). The front waiting entry was deafening, but the noise softened deeper into the dining room.
Decor: Shades of cool white to dark blue-gray climbed tall walls. Dangling lamps in varying shades of brightness made the dining room lively. The decor here is intentionally simple, as is the menu and concept.
The menu: One page split between starters and salads.
Starters: Two salads, a Caesar with kale and romaine, and a champagne vinaigrette house salad (both $7). Two simple appetizers, a baba ganoush with flatbread ($8) and a meat-and-cheese board with house crackers and pickled vegetables ($12).
Pizza menu: Seven specialty pies with the option of adding toppings. Pies range from a simple pepperoni ($13) to a pie with soppressata and crimini mushrooms ($15).
Pie prices: A very affordable $12-$15 considering the size of the 12-inch(ish) pies and the quality of ingredients.
Pie names: A server told us the pizza names were given with a nod to historic boats of Gig Harbor. That explains why the pepperoni pie was called Marilyn R.
Start with: Baba ganoush, made with a wood-fire-roasted eggplant combined with plenty of tahini to turn the flavor deeply sesame, served with fire-roasted flatbread and halved grape tomatoes.
Pie style: Toppings extended deep to the edges of the pie. The house sauce was a pomodoro made with San Marzano tomatoes. The house-made crust was yeasty, with chewy resistance, with a thin inner crust extending to puffy, blistered edges. Pies were served atop round wooden boards.
Try the: Home 2, a vegetarian-friendly pie with a pomodoro sauce, wispy pieces of onion and thick slices of portabello mushrooms atop a gooey field of mozzarella punctuated by creamy pools of goat cheese ($14). The Aeroplane combined spicy cured Portuguese chorizo with red onions and fresh garlic ($15). The pepperoni had slices of the cured meat extended almost all the way to the edges of the pie, just the way I like it ($13).
Wine-beer list: Five whites by the glass ($7-$10) and six reds ($10-$13), with seven whites by the bottle ($22-$40) and 10 reds ($29-$70). Nine beers by the can ($4.75-$7) featuring mostly Washington brewers (Silver City, 7 Seas, Diamond Knot, Ghostfish), and draft beer by the pint, $5.
Where: 3409 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor; 253-514-8626; millvillepizzaco.com.
Hours: 4:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.