Pizza Furiosa is located at 2500 S. Woodlands Village Boulevard in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-221-1280 or visit www.pizzafuriosa.com.
© Paul Markow
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Fire-PoweredA lot of restaurants fail because they're uninspiring or forgettable. Richard Fernandez was determined to avoid both of those things when he opened Pizza Furiosa in Flagstaff, a place with a refreshing menu and a wood-burning oven no one will ever forget.
By Jacki Mieler
FLAGSTAFF As he prepared to open his new restaurant in Flagstaff, Richard Fernandez wanted a name with spark, something memorable. He thought that no one would forget the fury of his wood-burning oven, so Pizza Furiosa was born.
Not that anyone would forget Fernandez, known for more than 10 years as the talented chef behind the handcrafted Italian dishes at downtown Flagstaff's Pesto Brothers Piazza. When he closed the book on that place, Fernandez decided his next calling was to bring Neapolitan pizza to Flagstaff.
Departing the tourist haven of downtown for a suburban west-side location, Fernandez envisioned Pizza Furiosa as a more casual, neighborhood-style restaurant. Regardless of location, the star of this show is the pizza, and the oven can make or break this laborious and time-consuming style of pie.
"If I can make food from scratch, someone can make me an oven from scratch," Fernandez thought as he planned the centerpiece of Pizza Furiosa.
His passion for buying local started with Flagstaff artisan Kevin Ragaller, who made his pizza-oven dream a reality. Weighing in at 6,000 pounds, the oven is temperamental, but Fernandez learned how to tame it and keep the 900-degree fire burning with oak from Northern Arizona trees.
In addition to a few of his popular baked pastas from Pesto Brothers, Fernandez brought along his relationships with local producers. This creates some nontraditional topping options, but when it comes to making a true Neapolitan pizza, Fernandez is all about tradition.
With nine pizza choices, ranging from the No. 13 with braised mushrooms, goat cheese and leeks, to the No. 14 with chicken, creamy alfredo sauce, tomatoes and spinach, two things are certain: Your selection will be a difficult one, but you can't go wrong. When in doubt, try the Chef's Playground special, which Fernandez describes as "whatever the farm brings us, we put on a pizza."
It might be hard to venture away from the pizza, but it's worth straying for the panini sandwiches, served with freshly sliced and perfectly salted potato chips.
Not one to cut corners, Fernandez took his "all things local" approach all the way to the décor. Chairs are crafted from reincarnated 1950s Northern Arizona University desks, and the tables were once lanes at a now-defunct Phoenix bowling alley.
Just as these items got a second life, Fernandez's second culinary life with Pizza Furiosa seems destined to become another Flagstaff institution.