Cobblestones’ wood-fired oven lights up pizza in East Greenwich, and I have a history. I’ve written about wood-fired pizza places in sister magazines Providence Monthly and The Bay, and now we come to a new Rhode Island contender on Post Road in East Greenwich, Cobblestones Wood Fired Pizza. If you’ve read my other pizza reviews – and that’s what they are more than anything else, reviews of the pizza – you’ll find I’m pretty picky when it comes to artisanal pizza pie.
Sure there are dozens, if not hundreds of pizza places in Rhode Island, and I’m never one to turn away a slice from almost anywhere. But when it comes to the real deal: the fermented dough, the wood, the 800 to 1,000 degree temperatures, the char, the ingredients and so on, I’ve got very high standards. To repeat what I’ve said before in those other pages, “I love pizza. I really love pizza. I’ve flown to Phoenix, Arizona for less than 24 hours just to have pizza. I’ve eaten pizza in Italy and at restaurants in the United States that are considered to have some of the best pizza in the country. I’ve also had the great fortune to make pizzas in a wood-fired oven with one of the best bakers in the world.”
So that brings us to Cobblestones, a place I’d been wanting to try as soon as they opened up. I had heard about the Di Fiore oven they had imported from Italy and installed in this storefront across the street from Benny’s. Then I read how the owner was the former owner of Olerio’s, an Italian restaurant I’d been to many times as a kid growing up in Cranston. The background and commitment was clearly there, so how about the pizza?
First of all, I should mention that Cobblestones looks great. The exterior and the interior looks completely new with lots of wood and a fun design that kind of brings to mind being in an outdoor setting in Italy, even in late winter when I visited. When you walk in you can immediately see the wood burning oven in the kitchen behind the bar, that is if your eyes aren’t drawn to the great light fixtures hanging over the stone-faced bar. They’re made from inverted, galvanized olive buckets and I couldn’t help glancing up at that often to figure out how to duplicate it for my own use.
But honestly, you can’t help but be captivated by the huge wood-burning oven. Humans may all be drawn to fire by nature, and if you really want to watch the pizza making in action you need to take a seat at the bar. My family grabbed a table and wow did Cobblestones fill up quickly on the night we were there. It’s not a very big place, but it felt very comfortable and it seemed like the East Greenwich neighborhood had already embraced the restaurant.
The first very pleasant surprise when we sat down: Yacht Club soda! I find that Rhode Island’s own almost 100-year-old soda company isn’t served in nearly as many restaurants as it should be and it was great to hear. No Coke or Pepsi at Cobblestones. In fact, Cobblestones uses a bunch of local producers such as Narragansett Creamery, Daniele and more. It makes sense that of the dozens of cuisines served in Rhode Island, great Italian food ingredients are available locally and it’s nice to see a place taking advantage of that.
The next thing that I loved seeing was a card on the table that essentially laid out the rules for the pizza you were about to eat. It listed what kind of wood, the temperatures of the deck and dome, the flour and tomatoes used and why your pie might be charred (it should be!). It was a great little primer on the style of pizza that Cobblestones made and nicely set the tone with good answers to common questions.
Onto the food, specifically the pizza, which doesn’t need to be specified because Cobblestones’ menu only consists of pizzas. There is a salad that comes with slices of essentially an oiled pizza crust with no toppings, and an Antipasto, but we skipped those and went straight for four pies: Margherita, Pepperoni, Bianco and Soppressata. In a word: wonderful. Visually all four pizzas looked different and yet clearly were made with the same care in preparation and handling. The dough was well structured, chewy but with good crispness, and the toppings were all very tasty.
My favorite, if I was made to pick one, was the Margherita ($13), which is pretty much a benchmark pizza, so high marks to Cobblestones for getting it so good. Yes, the center of the pie was heavy from a pool of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and good olive oil, but the dough was cooked all the way through and the toppings didn’t overwhelm the taste. It was an excellent Margherita. The Pepperoni ($11) pizza was very typical and very fulfilling. The Bianco ($14.50) was also a highlight, showing how good toppings can be. The Soppresata ($14.95) was meaty and a touch on the sweet side with the caramelized onions.
Cobblestones is a great addition to Rhode Island’s too few, proper, woodfired pizzerias. It’s nice to see it in East Greenwich too. I would gladly go back for that Margherita again and again.