Jay Langfelder is a goddamn pizza monk, plain and simple.
However, instead of transcribing ancient Latin texts by candlelight, Langfelder spent two-and-a-half years on a self-imposed sabbatical, inside his O.G. Wood Fire Pizza Truck, honing his craft. Alas, the truck is no more, but Langfelder now has his monastery.
Langfelder’s new shop – Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria – has an ascetic starkness. Don’t go for the decor. Don’t go for the music. Don’t go for the patio (there is none) or the pieces of flair. You go for the freakin’ killer pizza pie.
To the untrained eye, Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria located on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore (literally a one minute walk from La Divina on a slow day), looks like a standard slice shop: cash register on top of a waist-high counter and people behind that counter making pizzas. But what happens inside those four walls is an homage to the Holy Trinity of Dough, Sauce, and Cheese – Blessed be the fruit!
Langfelder said he appreciates the cult-like following his food truck had built up, but something told him it was time for a change.
“The reason we’re getting out of the truck – even though many people considered it to be the best pizza in Buffalo – is because we knew we could do better,” he said in a recent phone interview. “From being in the volatile environment of a truck, where some days it might be 40 degrees and other days it might be 110, we now have this temperature-controlled building to make dough that’s nearly perfect. So we’re using the best techniques we can use that we were unable to do in the past.”
In addition to toiling away in the elements of Buffalo’s four seasons, Langfelder had also been busy researching age-old Neapolitan pizza-making techniques. The result is a menu schooled by Italian pizza orthodoxy, but also informed by today’s hedonistic flavors and tastes.
“I’ve searched for these ingredients and brought them in myself with the help of an importer. So, we’re bringing in the real deal ingredients,” he said. “A lot of the pizzas will be familiar for people who have been coming to the truck for the last two-and-a-half years. So, we brought over the favorites from there and then we created some new ones as well.”
On a recent visit with my photographer, I grabbed a Marinara pizza (tomato, basil, garlic and oregano), while he ordered a Margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil) and an Amatriciana (tomato, mozzarella, red onion, pancetta, chili and honey).
The sauce on my pie was as bright and tart as a fresh-picked tomato. Each basil leaf was sugar wafer-crisp and packed a tiny licorice punch, while a healthy amount of garlic cut against the crispy, flavorful crepe-thin crust.
Langfelder said his dough is naturally leavened, rising at room temperature for 32 to 40 hours, and the result is a delicious sourdough-like flavor.
My photographer found his pies to be “fresh, soft, simple and rustic”. He added that the Amatriciana was “mildly sweet and spicy.”
On paper, Jay’s Artisan Pizza looks like the type of business you might find downtown or on Elmwood Avenue. Langfelder said Buffalo’s fire code – specifically as it pertains to his custom-built pizza oven – essentially kept him out of the city.
“You can really only make a real Neapolitan pizza in this specific oven, because of the dimensions and the heat conductivity,” he said. “It needs to be direct-vented. It needs to have a chimney, and in Buffalo, they weren’t allowing us to do that. They were making us put a hood over it.”
Langfelder just couldn’t compromise on his oven: It would be a straight up act of blasphemy.
“I wasn’t going to mess with something that they’ve been doing properly for 100 years.”
Pro Tip: Night after night, Jay has been posting to Facebook to regretfully inform his fans that they are sold out. Yes, you read that right, these guys are selling out of pizza almost every night. Why? They make the dough fresh and when they’re out, they’re out. Stay glued to their Facebook Page for updates on hours and stuff. Oh and go early. They open at 4pm this week through Saturday.
Jay’s Artisan Pizzeria
2872 Delaware Ave, Kenmore
Hours: Soft Opening Week of 9/5 – 9/9 4-9pm or sell out, Official hours TBA
Cuisine: Neapolitan and New School Pizza
Type: Eat In/Take Out
Opened for soft opening starting 9/5/17