Fresh, local, homemade, high quality. Those were the words I heard most frequently from Dave Plath, owner and executive chef of Grana in Jamesport, as I spoke to him about his passion turned profession – pizza making.
Grana is a traditional Italian trattoria serving authentic wood-fired Napolitano pizza. Chef Plath learned how to make pizza through his professional foodie travels, studying at some of the best culinary institutions in the world, and by following in the footsteps of his pizza-making hero, Chris Bianco (founder of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix), with whom he’d love the chance to THROWDOWN!
“I use the best because that’s what I like to eat,” states Plath. He takes the concept of “simply delicious” to a whole different level, using some ingredients he can’t live without, like his Duroc Pork Sausage from a small producer in Maryland, and his salami, shipped in from San Francisco and worth every savory calorie. Oh, and don’t expect to go to Grana and order “by the slice.” Only personal-sized pizzas at Chef Plath’s place – and you can polish one off by yourself pretty easily – or get two and share!
My date and I stuck to Grana’s pizza menu, which has staples like Margherita pizza, and local favorites like the NoFo. You can also build your own pizza, which is what my date opted to do. He chose a classic Margherita and added red onions and that divine salami I told you about earlier – the kind Chef Plath selected especially for his trattoria. The pizza dough, which is homemade of course, cooks in 3-4 minutes in Chef Plath’s super-hot 750** wood-burning oven. The crust is traditionally thin and delectably crunchy. The salami is almost indescribable – salty, porky goodness (sliced super thin!) piled on a pizza. Chef Plath knows his salami almost as well as his pizza!
|Chef & Owner Dave Plath|
I ordered the Grana (I had to try the namesake pizza) and the NoFo, which was recommended to me by a very nice gentlemen (a regular) who happened to be picking up his own NoFo pie. The NoFo is made up of Plath’s homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella made in-house, wood-fired onions and the mouthwatering Duroc Pork Sausage. I am a cheese manic, and I appreciate the way the super-fresh mozzarella melts so beautifully, letting the other ingredients have a place to nestle while cooking. The creamy mozz and crunchy onions are a wonderful complement to the mouthwatering sausage – laced with fragrant fennel – creating this wonderful combination of textures and flavors that wreaked playful havoc with all my foodie senses.
The Grana is a white pizza, with the fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano reggiano and a garlic-herb ricotta, covered with fresh arugula. Another perfect choice for the cheese lovers out there, this pizza is sinfully cheesy, with that awesome garlic-herb ricotta Chef Plath makes teasing you with every bite. The arugula on top is genius, breaking up the heavy cheeses with a nice spicy bite of greens. Perfection in a pizza.
Pizza isn’t the only thing on the menu at Grana. Chef Plath serves up fresh, homemade pasta dishes like Fettuccini Alfredo and Bolognese. He’s also serving up a selection of Paninis that I absolutely have to go back and try. There’s a specialty pizza menu each day, inspired by the local farm stands, with such offerings as Fig, Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza. Chef Plath is limited only by his imagination, and you never know what he’ll come up with next!
The best part is that Grana is affordable, with entrées (including personal pizzas) for under $20.
Grana is a family-owned and operated business, and Chef Plath welcomes the help from his wife of 10 years, Nancy, and children, Carey, Dara, David (an amazing pizza maker following in his dad’s footsteps) and Jennifer. Grana also offers an extensive collection of wines from the local vineyards that surround this charming and delicious trattoria.
Next time you find yourself perusing the North Fork farm stands, make time to stop in and say hi to the family at Grana – they are expecting you!
Grana, located at 1566 Main Road in Jamesport, is open Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 9 p.m. For more information, give them a call at 631-779-2844.