Lampo: Introducing Authentic Neapolitan Pizza to Cville

Posted on October 27, 2014 by

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Building a restaurant can be a lot like putting together the perfect pizza. Sure it takes time, good craftsmanship and a lot of dough, but the most important ingredient is passion.

lampo logoFour friends that have spent a lot of their adult life working in some of Charlottesville’s finest eateries are taking their passion for food and rolling out what will soon be Cville’s newest pizza joint —Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria.

Mitchell Beerens, Ian Redshaw, Andrew Cole, and Loren Mendosa were all working together at Belmont’s Tavola when they discovered an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. The Farm — a quaint, popular grocery and deli neighboring The Bridge Pai — was closing its doors, thus opening a new door of opportunity for another Belmont gem.

“We immediately saw the potential,” Cole said.

“I was looking at the space two years ago,” Mendosa added, noting they just didn’t have the funding and all the right pieces in place at the time.

The chefs, however, were determined to one day open their own restaurant.

“What do race car drivers talk about all day? Racing. Chefs talk about food all the time,” Beerens said.

“The four of us worked together at Tavola. We had a great team. The four of us know what works well,” Cole said. “Opening a restaurant just made sense.”

Sticking to authenticity and tradition

Lampo, Italian for “lightning,” will open its doors in early November and it’s not just the name that will pay homage to Italy.

The pizzaiolis (pizza makers) will make VPN, or Vera Pizza Napoletana, certified Neapolitan pizzas, using only the finest ingredients.

lampo roof

Re-installing the roof after lowering the brick oven into the building.

The Neapolitan style pizza will be cooked in a 3-ton brick oven that was shipped over from Naples and lowered through the roof of the building. What makes the oven unique, besides where it comes from, is that it will only use heat generated from burning wood to cook pizzas.

“I think we’re the only ones (in Charlottesville) that are just going to be (using) wood,” Beerens said. “It makes a better pie.”

Since the oven won’t be fueled by gas, prepping the oven requires a specific process. The crew at Lampo has to gradually heat up the brick oven by burning wood inside of it for two straight weeks, until the temperature reaches 1,000 degrees.

“We start off with a little fire and then we get bigger and hotter, bigger and hotter,” Beerens added.

lampo first  fire

Mendosa said the gradually larger fires placed in different spots inside the oven also are used to help get rid of the moisture.

These pizzaiolis don’t mind taking the time to make sure everything is as authentic as possible.

“It’s sticking to a time-honored tradition,” Beerens said.

They have even launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $8,000 for an authentic 12-inch hand-cranked slicer they will use to cut prosciutto, salami, and other fine meats.

International pizzeria with a local mindset

In addition to Neapolitan pizzas and some small plates and formaggi from Flora Artisanal Cheese, Lampo will have wine, beer, and cocktails to offer its patrons.

In fact, the restaurant’s owners have already talked with Champion Brewing Co. owner Hunter Smith about doing a collaboration beer. The idea is to add some high-quality oregano in with the dry-hopped brew to make a light, yet somewhat hoppy Italian-style beer.

“I think it will complement the pizza very well,” Cole said. “It’s lighter, refreshing.”

Lampo hopes to be involved with a lot of collaborations with area businesses, he added.

The restaurant’s owners said they really just want to bring something that is high quality and unique to Charlottesville.

“It’s something that’s simple, but it takes a lot of finesse,” Redshaw said. “Everyone can make pizza, but not everyone can make pizza well.”

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Posted in: food, New to Cville