849 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Father and six-year-old son leave Fire + Fly Artisan Pizza, the just-opened joint on Coronado's Orange Avenue. Dad's carrying four boxes of pizzas.
"Dad, I'll take them."
"Can I hold in them in the van?"
"Because I don't want them to get scalped."
Fire + Fly opened last Sunday, and looks like Coronado's en-tire kid population has not only adopted it, but dragged their parents in, too.
I'm sitting on the new little patio they've built on the sidewalk with succulent planters protecting the area. And hey, I'm drinking a glass of chardonnay out here, a rare privilege on this street. Most places, state won't allow it. Go figure. Plus, I was lucky. Just got ahead of the line of kids, parents, oldies come to build their own pizza for dinner.
It's this idea you're seeing everywhere, of having the dough guy squish out a rough disk, pass it to a line of servers who kind of wait for you to tell them what you want them to put on your pizza. Here the basic cheese and sauce pie costs $5.95. Pay two bucks more and you can ask for five toppings. And they have the full array of brussels sprouts, bacon, gorgonzola, pesto chicken, meatballs, spinach, whatever.
Me, I got lazy, and asked for one of their ready recipes. Number two, the BBQ chicken, with red onions, gorgonzola and mozzarella. Costs $7.95. And I ask for that glass of chard' ($6). Could have had a beer. Bottle or draft. Actually, Stella's the only draft, also $6.
So fourteen bucks down, but enjoying the atmos, and when one of the servers brings out my pizza, still sizzling fresh, it's a modest size and very thin, but man, that first taste. Crunchy, yeasty, and with nice, sweet flavor from the BBQ sauce they've streaked across the chicken chunks and cheese. And so good with the chard'. And yes, it's great to have it all out here on this patio that catches every last bit of the sun sloping in behind Vons.
So I get halfway through the pizza, and start feeling guilty. Call Carla. "Get another!" she says. "Keep half of each for me. Don't come home without them."
Because yes, much more than me, she 's the pizza fiend.
So I join the line again, and it's quite a line by now. I order #1, the one with pepperoni, sausage, meatball and mozzarella, and join the slow procession along all the toppings.
I notice adults without kids seem to have taken refuge in the back patio. But the life's out here. People passing by stop to see what's up, at this spot where Alexander's Pizza used to rule for years.
I guess the question was whether island kids would take to the new joint. Sure looks like they have. Me too. I love the fresh, kinda fruity flavor in the pepperoni sausage one, and the sweet thing going in my chicken pie.
George, who's sliding the pies about in the flaming oven, and manager, turns out, says you get the flavor in the dough because they don't use bleached flour, and they let the dough ferment 24 hours. "Then we bake the pies in this intense heat, 550 degrees. It's very quick. That's why the owners called this place 'Fire and fly.' Because that's what you can do...unless it gets crowded like this. We opened last Sunday and it's been lines ever since."
And Carla? Ecstatic. She really loves the thin, crispy, rough-shaped shell. The crunchy thing. And the yeasty thing it has going. For me, the pizzas are fine. I mean, pizzas never totally hit my erogenous zone. But here, what I like, it's the combo. The wine, the sun, being on the street. And I like the idea that you just get one size, that it costs eight bucks, and that the dough doesn't fill you or fight you all the way.
"You should have made up your own pizza," says Carla later. "Then if you don't hit a home run, you've only got yourself to blame."
Guess the pizza of personal responsibility has arrived.