By Emma Castleberry
With a location in Black Mountain and one in West Asheville, Fresh Wood Fired Pizza has a bountiful menu featuring a variety of dishes. The aptly-named restaurant always prioritizes using the freshest ingredients they can find. “Throughout the year, we love to incorporate seasonal produce and local foods on our menu,” says front-of-house manager Caitlin Oland. “We offer seasonal local beers on tap, and, right now, we have house-made ramp butter made with local ramps.”
The star of the show at Fresh West is the wood-fired, Neapolitan- style pizza topped with ingredients sourced from local farms. The team at Fresh West expertly combines tradition and innovation by joining traditional Italian recipes with locally sourced ingredients. For the traditionalists, Fresh West offers the classic simplicity of a margherita-style pizza with their Roses pizza. Made with red sauce, fresh mozzarella and oven-roasted garlic, the Roses is topped with fresh basil right when it comes out of the oven. The more adventurous will find surprising and exquisite combinations like the Drunken Clam pizza, which features an olive oil base topped with mozzarella, diced clams, oven-roasted garlic and bacon, and finished with a house made butter wine sauce and fresh parsley.
Honoring the Italian tradition of transforming dough into artisan bread, chefs at Fresh West hand roll pizza dough and bake it over intense heat, which produces the characteristic bubbles and charring of a Neapolitan-style pizza, native to Naples, Italy. The Fresh West kitchen features an Italian- imported, handcrafted oven that burns seasoned hardwood gleaned from the orchards and forests of Western North Carolina. To perfect the charred, fired crust indicative of the Italian style of pizza-making, the oven reaches temperatures up to 900 degrees. When burned, the hardwood produces intense, consistent heat and a wonderful aroma.
In addition to its specialty pies, the Fresh West menu offers a a build-your-own pizza option and vegan cheeses and meats. Guests rave about the house-made gluten-free crust and homemade desserts. Manager Chester Oland crafts homemade, seasonal soups daily. Some favorites are Tuscan white bean with fennel sausage, tomato basil bisque, fire roasted carrot and chilled cucumber avocado. Appetizers, salads and sandwiches are also available year-round.
Fresh West utilizes a wide variety of locally-sourced produce, herbs and meats, with seasonal rotations that support local farms and vendors. With a focus on sustainability, Fresh West has its own on-site garden for herbs, vegetables and flowers. Local brews are plentiful, with a wide variety of canned and bottled beers and four rotating taps. Seasonal local beers will be on tap all summer for guests to sample and enjoy with their wood-fired pizzas. Wine lovers can choose from a variety of white, red and sparkling wines.
The West Asheville location is nestled in the heart of the River Arts District, featuring a cozy dining area and a covered outdoor patio with surrounding views that charm and entertain. Guests can enjoy a casual, dog- friendly environment at both locations, where a thriving sense of community welcomes all who enter. “Fresh West is warm and welcoming,” says Oland. “We are a family, and we put a lot of love into what we do.”