The stainless-steel flaming outdoor heaters that line the front patios at Flames Steakhouse and the adjacent Flames Wood-Fired Pizza & Italian Cuisine are fitting adornments. Intense heat from blue and orange flame is central to the core offerings at each business: the char on the in-house, dry-aged cuts at the steakhouse and the golden-crusted pies made with Italian-milled 00 flour (considered the gold standard of pizza flours) in a $40,000-plus rotating stone custom oven at the newly opened pizzeria.
“One of my first jobs was working at a pizzeria at 15 years old in Nomentano, Italy,” says Nikolla Vulaj, the chef/owner of both the 90-seat fine-dining steakhouse and the 35-seat pizza-pasta casual eatery. “It was one of the first foods I learned how to make.”
The pizza at Flames is thinner than the more common-to-this area New York-style, and closer to Neapolitan, but really its own thing. “It’s what my grandmother made for the family growing up in Montenegro,” explains Vulaj.
Cherry and oak hardwoods fuel his custom oven, and a pie cooks in about 1 and a half to 2 minutes. At its hottest, the interior rises to 700°F to 800°F. Says Vulaj, “I fire it up at 10 a.m. to be ready for lunch service at 11:30 a.m.” According to Vulaj, the rotating stone bottom is a key feature for producing pies with consistent crusts as the temperature is even throughout the cooking cycle.
Fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, Italian extra-virgin olive oil, and plum tomatoes combine for a well-crafted Margherita; Nick’s Pizza (pictured above), with portobellos, roasted peppers, Kalamata olives, Gorgonzola, and fresh basil is a winning thinner-crusted Sicilian offered.
Ingredients from the steakhouse next door, e.g., prosciutto di parma, high-end cheeses, high-quality olive oil, find their way into the pizza kitchen.
Flames offers delivery and takeout, but according to Vulaj, “pizza is always better right out of the oven. Sitting in cardboard and reheated, it’s not the same experience. Still good, but not the same.”
Flames Wood-Fired Pizza & Italian Cuisine
121 E Main St, Elmsford
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