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Pizza is THE perfect food in my book! Thin-crust, thick, deep-dish, double-cheese, Sicilian, NY-style, Detroit, New Haven style and more, they are all great. But if you want to go back to the basics and the origins of pizza, only a Neapolitan style pie will do. Served as an individual pie and made with 00 flour, san marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala, a Neapolitan pizza is served bare bones with a light smattering of cheese and toppings but it’s magic when done right. In Durham, we’ve got several options for Neapolitan pies: Pizzeria Toro, Pompieri Pizza and now the new Tre Forni (three ovens in Italian). They’re all quite good but Tre Forni may be the most authentic of the three, find out why!
Located in a new plaza in Durham’s Woodcroft neighborhood, Tre Forni looks shiny and new from the outside. Festive red and white umbrellas mark the storefront if you’re a first-timer. Out front there are stacks of wood hinting at what you’ll find inside. Tre Forni has a relaxed and modern feel to the classic Italian pizzeria. Three beautiful tiled ovens representing the restaurant’s name sit to the left side and dominate the space. There’s several long, wood communal tables, wood paneling and a bright red sign proclaiming “Real wood-fired”. The place is clean, a bit spartan but super-functional in design and looks.
I head on up to the counter and since I’ve been stalking the menu, it takes me all of 30 seconds to order! One margherita pie with sausage and a unsweetened tea, please. It looks like Tre Forni has several beers on tap but not for me today. I self-service my drink, grab some napkins from a dispenser and notice a table of condiments (crushed red pepper, grated cheese) that’s laid out for your pie. I grab a seat at the solo diner bar and watch them quickly assemble my pizza.
Into the oven it goes and the young pizzaiolo is watching it intently and spinning it in the oven to keep it cooking evenly. And wow, it can’t be more than 4 minutes before my pie is out and getting cut into 4 large slices. I’m excited and hoof it over to the counter to grab by za. A quick stop to put some crushed red pepper on top and it’s time to eat! Note: Tre Forni does not take phone orders to maintain the quality of their pizza
At the table I get to inspect this beauty of a pie a bit closer. The crust or (cornicione) is speckled with medium sized char spots. Lots of fresh, bright red crushed tomato, seared basic and white splotches of cheese, yum! It’s an individual pie but a bit larger than what I’m used to, about 14″ across. As an experienced pizzaholic, I give it time to cool while snapping pics, I’m not going to make the crucial mistake of diving right in after it comes out of the oven! And my first bite here is great. Excellent salted crust with some good fluffiness. The cheese, sauce and sausage are well balanced, Tre Forni does a nice chunked sausage here. The crust is a bit limp in the center which is not a surprise, it’s been a while since I’ve had a real neapolitan pie. But overall a great version for the Triangle!
I get to chat with Dave the owner for a bit. He trained at Keste in NYC which is quite famous for its pizza and he’s committed to delivering that same great pizza to the Triangle. A separate dough room that is temperature and humidity controlled is evidence of that commitment. The dough here at Tre Forni is rested and proofed for 24 hours before it gets used for your pizza. So wow, nice job Tre Forni! That simple shopping plaza store front hides some wonderfully authentic neapolitan pizza so if you’re a fan, don’t miss the new Tre Forni for their great pies…
1125 W North Carolina 54
Durham, NC 27707
919.973.0922 (Phone orders are not taken)