The centerpiece of the new Wintergreen restaurant, Fire & Frost, is an enormous wood-fired pizza oven behind the serving counter. A functional piece of art decorated with orange, gray and green tiles on one side that make up the eatery’s logo.
Ellen Walden said her husband, head chef Jared Walden, built the oven inside the old DeVine Cafe building because it was too big to pass through the door. He plastered, installed and grouted himself, and also demolished old cabinets to make room for a modern bar, oven safe and pizza making area.
The couple are originally from Newport News, but hope to find their niche at Wintergreen Resort, which serves breakfast pizzas and pastries, espresso drinks, and wood-fired pizzas made to order from the top of the mountain.
Jared said his Fire & Frost pizzas are 100% wood-fired—no “cheat” with an added gas burner, and “… if you’re smoking meat in a smoking pot, it’s like you have to keep adding wood chips every time. 30, 40 minutes — that’s it.” a process.”
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He explained that wood-fired pizza ovens cook at a much higher temperature — about 700 degrees — than a standard pizza oven cooks at 500 to 550 degrees, creating a distinctive crust style and a slightly smoky flavor. Once in the oven, a pizza should be turned a quarter turn for even cooking.
Jared isn’t stingy with ingredients either, using San Marzano tomatoes, cheeses and double 0 pizza flour imported from Waldocular, Italy — “…they’re generally just trying to elevate pizza by using high-end ingredients,” Jared said. He also talked about experimenting with sauces; the menu has green tomato pizza to simulate fried green tomatoes. The pizza dough was created using a two-day, multi-step fermentation process, so Jared said he should always think ahead, and while the restaurant is closed on Mondays, the couple hopes to spend every day of the week in the kitchen.
Jared was kitchen manager at Newport News Carrabba’s Italian Grill for nearly seven years and co-owner of other local restaurants in Tidewater.
A friend who manages several Wintergreen properties complained about the lack of restaurant and breakfast options on the mountain, and when presented with the opportunity, he partnered with the couple to develop Fire & Frost.
The Walden family prepped the day before their grand opening on January 20. Jared was making the dough for his morning muffin recipe, which he described as a citrus cinnamon roll.
“We’re really excited that we’re going to be successful,” Ellen said.
Fire & Frost is open Tuesday through Sunday from 08:00 to 16:00. The Waldens are currently single employees but would like to hire a cashier.