HYANNIS — On bustling Main Street, with its mix of souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, and casual eateries, Pizza Barbone is more Brooklyn, N.Y., than mid-Cape. Owner and chef Jason O’Toole, and his wife, Ali, designed a chic space for their 49-seat Neapolitan-style pizzeria with marble tables and cool gray walls.
A rooftop garden provides the duo with organic herbs, several varieties of lettuce, kale, beets, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, dandelions, radishes, and eggplant. The crop supplies the kitchen with about half the produce it uses in summer and fall. “We’re roof-to-table,” says O’Toole, 35. What they don’t grow comes from local farmers.
The O’Tooles began their foray into pizza with a mobile oven they drove around the Cape for two years before opening Pizza Barbone three years ago. The restaurant showpiece is a hulking, glass-tiled, dome-shaped brick oven behind the bar. The 6,000-pound, wood-fired cooker came from Naples, and was handmade by Stefano Ferrara, a third-generation Neapolitan oven-builder revered by pizza makers worldwide. The 1,000-degree oven bakes a pizza in 90 seconds, and turns out a remarkably tender, chewy crust, beautifully charred and blistered. There are about 50 Ferrara ovens in this country, says O’Toole. His is the only one on the Cape.
A pistachio pesto pie, spread with the creamy sauce, made with spinach and pistachios, is layered with fresh mozzarella. When it’s cooked, a mound of arugula, ground pistachios, and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette goes on top. The crust warms the greens; the combination of textures and tastes is delicious. The finely ground flour the chef imports from a family mill in Northern Italy gives the crust flavor.
Another pizza is made with wild mushrooms, garlic cream sauce, and smoked mozzarella, then sprinkled with truffle oil. A deep, earthy fragrance fills the restaurant when it comes out of the oven. “Customers say the smell is intoxicating,” says Ali O’Toole, 34, who runs the front of the house.
House-made ricotta, mozzarella, caramelized onions, black olives, and tender meatballs crown another pizza. A margherita pie with fresh San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil is a simple and light rendition of the classic.
The restaurant’s crop is also used for salads and appetizer specials. They might include a dish of roasted baby carrots, and shaved chioggia, golden and red beets with herb buttermilk dressing. Or crostini spread with a saute of kale and dandelion greens blended with slivered grapes and chickpeas, topped with grated Italian cheese.
At 17, O’Toole, who was raised in Falmouth, knew he wanted to be a chef and took off to work at the renowned Le Cirque restaurant in New York. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and later worked at TV chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant in Claridge’s in London. O’Toole came to Boston and cooked for stints at the former Pigalle restaurant, Lumiere in Newton, at State Street Bank’s dining room, and on a private yacht traveling the East Coast. He and Ali, who grew up in New Hampshire, moved back to the Cape and married last year.
Pies are so popular there’s a line for a table most nights. Customers are drawn in by the smell of burning wood all seasons.
PIZZA BARBONE 390 Main St., Hyannis, 508-957-2377, www.pizzabarbone.com