Bryce dishes up a one-man pizza show
San Marzano tomatoes, Italian mozzarella and a wood-fired oven — essential ingredients for a great pizza according to Bryce Petty.
The 24-year-old claims to make the Island's best. He churns out about 100 pies each week at Tribe Road Kitchen.
Perhaps what's most impressive is that it's a one-man show.
“Every pizza I make myself, 100 per cent,” he said. “I don't think there's any other place here where there's just one person doing everything — making the dough, slicing the toppings, making the sauce and firing it in the oven.”
Mr Petty joined the gastropub bar and grill in 2013, after he completed a degree in economics.
“You go to college and don't really know what you want to do,” he said of the disparate industries. “My dad [Russell] owns the restaurant [with his wife Karsten]. He was doing the pizza himself and when I got back from university I started helping him out and then took over. It just worked out that way. I'm enjoying it though. I prefer it to the office environment. I kinda took what he was doing further. I fine-tuned it, tweaked his recipe and tried doing a more classical Italian style of pizza.”
Mr Petty swears by the special flour he uses to make the 12-inch pies at Tribe Road Kitchen. He thinks San Marzano tomatoes are also key — the plum tomatoes have a reputation among chefs for being the best in the world.
“They're grown in volcanic ash so they're not as bitter as regular canned tomatoes,” Mr Petty explained. “We import our mozzarella from Italy and we use large, fresh basil leaves. Also, I season every pizza as it comes out of the oven; I don't season the sauce itself.”
The wood-fired oven at the restaurant, located on the corner of King and Reid Streets, typically reaches 1,000 degrees.
“It makes them extra crispy,” he said. “It gives them a char and a bitter flavour on the crust.”
A long-armed pizza peel protects him from harm, however Mr Petty admits to having made a few mistakes.
“It takes about 90 seconds to cook one; turn away for a couple of seconds too long and it could be completely burnt.”
Buffalo mozzarella, smoked slab bacon and roasted mushrooms are his favourite toppings at the moment; Pig's Floyd is popular with customers. It's topped with pineapple, jalapeño, bacon and pepperoni.
“Bermudians have a sweeter palate; they seem to like pineapple with a little heat on it,” he said.
In the last two years he's learnt a lot in an effort to create the perfect Neapolitan pizza — really thin crust in the middle and puffy and semi-charred on the outside.
“I've become against pepperoni because it's so oily, fatty,” he said. “I used to put oil on the dough but I don't do that anymore either. Oil is completely unnecessary. It's supposed to give elasticity to the dough but I don't want that. This way, when you roll it out it doesn't shrink back; mine is really easy to play with. Also, oil adds extra fat.
“I just keep it simple — water, flour, salt and yeast. There's no sugar in the sauce, in the dough. It's absolutely the best on the Island.”