Oliver and Cindy Frost are making my favorite pizza right now. It's too bad I didn't know about them a few weeks ago when New Times posted a list of the best pizzerias in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. They certainly would have topped it.
You see, the Frosts aren't just making pizza. They're making slow-food pizza, customizable pies with dough prepared in small batches, baked in a piping-hot, 900-degree, mobile wood-burning pizza oven. Each one is topped with ingredients sourced directly from South Florida farms and local artisan food suppliers.
The couple call the business Pizza Paradise, a nod to their business and home based in the seaside town of Delray Beach.
The idea for the pizza party on wheels began in 2007, when Oliver — a chef with an impressive background spanning from Savoy's River restaurant in London to the Harrison in Tribeca — saw an opportunity to purchase a mobile pizza oven from a company in Naples, Italy. The couple, who met while working on a yacht, were ready to do something new after nearly two decades apiece in the restaurant industry.
"We always wanted to open a small pizzeria," says Oliver. "Our philosophy was to do just one thing and do it really well. But getting all the money together for a brick-and-mortar was tough, so the mobile thing made sense with what we could afford at the time."
Cindy and Oliver launched South Florida-based Pizza Paradise in 2014. Today, you can find them at the Boca Raton Green Market from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, where they offer guests a rotating selection of their menu's signature pizzas, including a breakfast pie they serve earlier in the day topped with mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, and prosciutto with a single egg "soft" baked into the center.
Although the couple typically hit the road for private catering events, you can also find Pizza Paradise at Sons & Daughters Farm and Winery, where Oliver has signed on to become the farm's resident chef. If you fancy a pastoral night out, Oliver and Cindy will be serving guests from 5 to 11 p.m. every Friday for their weekly Campfire event featuring live music (and plenty of kombucha and herbal honey wines on tap). They will also be on the farm for a regular weekend brunch, the first of which is currently slated for Saturday, November 26, where the couple will serve several courses paired with Sons & Daughters beverages during a casual seated brunch.
In the past two years, the business has primarily grown as a private catering company. Clients can choose to offer guests made-to-order pies from the couple's selection of seven signature recipes or have the opportunity to work with Oliver to create their own custom one. Creative salads, appetizers like wood-roasted chicken wings with charred onion and Florida peach chutney, and desserts are also available.
"With the low overhead, it enables us to use pretty much the best ingredients we can get our hands on and [keep] it simple," says Oliver. "In order to be the best, we have to source the best and then do as little to it as possible. And pizza, for us, is a perfect vehicle for that."
Salad lettuces and micro greens are sourced from Natural Nomad Farms and produce from Alderman Farms, both in Boynton Beach. Raw dairy comes from Heritage Hen Farm, also in Boynton Beach, and is used to make the pies' rich cheeses and cream toppings. Still more specialty items and produce come from Sons & Daughters.
The most popular Pizza Paradise pie is called the Honey Pie, a combination of spicy soppressata, Florida honey, Maldon sea salt, homemade mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes. The White Riot, is a close second, three cheeses paired with oyster mushrooms, melted onions, and preserved lemon pesto. But you can't go wrong with the Queen Margherita, a traditional Neapolitan pie prepared with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil.
Turns out pizza isn't the only thing Oliver is skilled at making. He's also an exceptionally talented — though largely self-taught — bread-baker. You can find several of his best renditions for sale at the farmers' market and Sons & Daughters: sourdough, fig and walnut sourdough, and olive rosemary. I'd even venture to say they're good enough to give Miami's Zak the Baker a run for his money. (Keep an eye out for a preorder form on the Pizza Paradise website.)
"I always ended up baking bread at the restaurants I worked with, places where we couldn't find any good enough to buy," says Oliver. "I've always loved baking bread and understood it. Now, being a good bread-baker has enabled me to be a good pizza-maker. I don't look at it just as pizza dough. I look at it as an art form, and that makes a difference."
Cindy says the pizza dough has been a labor of love, one the couple has developed to what they consider near perfection over the past eight years. It's made simply, with a wild yeast, Caputo "00" bread flour, a touch of salt, and high-quality water. Prepared in small batches, it undergoes a long, slow fermentation for at least 48 hours and is only hand-kneaded.
"Pizza is something everybody gets and everybody loves," says Oliver. "It transcends boundaries and doesn't exclude anyone. And that's exactly what Pizza Paradise is all about."
Pizza Paradise. Delray Beach; 561-789-6889; pizzaparadise.org.
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