Of all the tasty food that is available to visitors and residents in Baja, there is one popular menu item that one might not normally expect to be readily available south of the border; and that is wood fired pizza. Of course, there are several commercial grade operations like Toogino’s, Papa Johnʼs and most recently, Little Caesarʼs, but most discriminating aficionados donʼt really consider that to be genuine pizza, but rather just another fast food item designed for westernized taste buds.
While it is true that there are also a growing number of family based restaurants that put out a good tasting product baked in a conventional oven, there are precious few restaurants that prepare this most elite version of the dish.
One of the most impressive standouts serving wood fired pizza that I have become acquainted with is Ollieʼs Brick Oven Pizza, which is located on the free road just south of Playas Rosarito, adjacent to the Las Gaviotas residential development.
The owner, Richard Cargill, is a transplant from Arizona who came to Baja with his Belgian waterdog, Ollie, several years ago with the intention of finding a peaceful retirement venue. Little did he know, however, that the little pizza restaurant that he named after his dog would burgeon into one of Baja Norteʼs most popular restaurants serving these mouthwatering pies baked in a wood fire oven.
Guests entering the restaurant during the dinner hour are immediately greeted by heavenly aromas and the view of a spacious open kitchen with a blazing fire in the back oven and staff members scurrying around filling orders for the numerous patrons that are generally present.
Ollieʼs pizza is done right! They make all of their pies using ʻfarina doppio zeroʼ (double zero flour) imported from Italy, which is necessary to create the thin crisp crust that is generally associated with Neapolitan style pizza. Their recipes are eclectic as well; from the classic Margherita and an authentic prosciutto and arugula pizza to one topped with provolone, bleu cheese and caramelized onions and the Don Pancho, made with steak, mushrooms and salsa verde. Ollieʼs also serves a bevy of fresh, crisp salads and delicious desserts; including my favorite, Ollieʼs Treat, which is a Nutella-filled wood fired pastry sprinkled generously with powdered sugar.
One thing is certain, once you give this place a try you will soon understand why it is regularly packed with happy customers enjoying a type of cuisine that is so rare to find south of the border. Ollieʼs Pizza is open Wednesday through Sunday from 4:00PM to 10:00PM, and is located at Km 40.5 on the free road south of Playas Rosarito.