Cafe Society

Pizzeria Locale and Caffe opening pushed back to January thanks to customs problems with the oven

When Frasca Food & Wine owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson drew up plans for Pizzeria Locale and Caffé, located on the same block as the original Boulder spot at 1738 Pearl Street, there was an essential element at play: a custom-made oven from the Ferrara family in Napoli, a clan that's made ovens for pizzaiolos in that country for generations.

"As crazy as this oven is, it's what we really believe in," says Stuckey. "This is what our chef trained on in Napoli." That oven was to be the powerhouse behind not just the pies in the pizzeria, but the house-baked breads in the cafe.

And that's where the problems started.

After the exacting pair managed to clear plans to erect the oven on-site with the state, the Ferrara family shipped a container of materials -- mortar, stones, tools and pizza peels -- and planned to jump on board a plane to meet the materials in Boulder once that container cleared customs. The oven had to be constructed in-house, says Stuckey, because the architectural plans were drawn up to finish the build-out of the space around it.

It wasn't to be. Because of a sand the Ferraras have used as material for dozens of years, customs held the container on the grounds that it was an agricultural hazard. And despite the tireless work of the restaurateurs to get it cleared, the container was destroyed by authorities the day after Thanksgiving.

"If you ship an oven, they know what it is," says Stuckey. "If you ship parts of an oven, they don't know what to do with it."

Time for plan B. The day those parts were destroyed, the Ferraras started constructing a new oven in Napoli, finishing it in just a week. The new oven was loaded onto an express boat today, and if everything goes according to plan, it will arrive in Boulder on January 7. At that point, construction can resume -- albeit not how it's currently drawn up in the plans.

"This has turned us completely upside down," says Stuckey. Nonetheless, he's still hoping to open by January 20.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk