A classic comfort

Of all the flavorful foods in the world, there may be one that unites us all. Invented by the Italians, mankind has taken one dish by storm with its undeniable, palatable perfection. Whether it’s a game day on the weekend or a 3 a.m. voyage to the fridge, one classic food’s flavors boast versatility from the way it’s cooked to how it’s consumed. Make way for pizza: a global phenomenon that the Cornhusker State has perfected through tantalizing techniques and a serious amount of crispiness. 

With so many elements involved in the world of ‘za, the beauty behind it starts with the exterior. Crust lays the foundation for these pies, whether it’s the consistency or texture, and the process taken to assemble dough can distinctively alter the overall taste. Kris Copp, co-owner of Copps Pizza Company with his father, Bill Copp, credits dough, cheese, and sauce as the most important aspects to a solid, savory slice of pizza. The family-friendly staple hosts two locations in Omaha, adjusting dough recipes between stores to ensure a consistent cut is delivered each time. To certify a crispy bottom crust, Kris Copp said every step in the dough-making process is followed—from the way it’s stretched, to how it’s balled, to how it’s rolled out. The humid climate of the Midwest causes dough to react differently, so seasonal alterations to the recipe enable Copps to carry out an invariable dining experience. 

Branding dough as its main element, Izzy’s Pizza Bus treats this pastry as a delicacy. A notable Detroit-style pizza boasts a thick, crunchy crust with an overflow of melted cheese cascading from top to bottom. Using a three-flour blend to obtain the best flavor profile, co-pizza slingers Brett and Cherish Geiger unveil meticulous attention to detail through their square-shaped specialties delivered straight from their mobile pizzeria. The former Las Vegas residents credit the original taste behind these pies to the pans they’re baked in, aiming for a fluffy and light rise in the crust framed with crisp, caramelized brown edges. The 25-minute oven method requires a higher hydrated dough, like that used in Sicilian pizza, to allow for a seamless rise crust. 

While some pies take time to mold into mouthwatering delicacies, other styles offer an accelerated approach. Via Farina takes blazing to its core, firing up the oven to 800 degrees, resulting in an airier texture. Although traditional Neapolitan-style pizza does not use sourdough crust, Co-owners Ethan Bondelid and Paul Kulik credit the use of this dough to the “signature tang” it carries. The Omaha eatery employs an Italian wood-fired approach by blasting bread inside a brick oven for a mere 90 seconds. This fast and fiery technique makes for a slightly charred crust, with a texture that’s crispy on the outside yet light on the inside. The “leopard spots” that plaster the pies derive from the scorching temperatures they’re baked in, adding an array of textured char marks around the exterior. 

A fresh blend of tomato sauce paired with the gooeyness of cheese makes for a compact flavor. Only fresh mozzarella is permitted for Neapolitan-style pizza, and Via Farina’s wood-fired approach exquisitely blends its sauce and cheese to create a more prominent pie layered with taste, craft, and simplicity. Izzy’s dabbles in mozzarella, but focuses on white cheddar blanketed with Wisconsin brick cheese, which is a traditional topping for Detroit-style pizza. Steering away from the customary “racing stripes” tomato sauce design, Izzy’s sauces each pizza with a percentage sign simply because they like the way it looks. These pairings make for a mouthwatering cheese melt that oozes over the edges, further caramelizing the crust. While some pizza concepts incorporate mozzarella and marinara, Copps ditches traditional red sauce and instead enhances flavors through its signature staple: cream cheese sauce. Due to his strong distaste for tomatoes, Kris Copp said this approach does not replace traditional sauce, rather, it offers a distinct type of pizza that packs quality flavor through made-from-scratch concepts. 

The way a pizza is topped can make all the difference in its presentation and taste. Portioning, measuring, and distributing ingredients evenly communicates the consistency, precision, and craft behind it. Take the savory yet sweet combo of chicken and waffles: a two-for-one deal that balances dinner and breakfast. The combination of these comfort foods is only one example of the many ways food lovers enrich their dining experiences, and Copps is no stranger to incorporating similar cutting-edge concepts. Serving as one of the restaurant’s featured menu items is the Chicken and Waffles pizza, alongside other popular picks such as Crab Rangoon and Pork Burnt Ends. Pushing the boundaries, Kris Copp said he and his team have fun creating “weird but unique” concepts with a goal of bringing out the “kid” aspect of pizza. “Not just the pizza, but the whole experience to bring back nostalgia,” he added. 

Many pies can be loaded with cheese and an assortment of meats, but Via Farina’s Neapolitan-style pizza presents a more simplistic style: few ingredients, minimal toppings, and intense flavor. Led by Head Chef John Rea, the “less is more” approach allows for the focus to be on crafting classic, quality pies garnished with signature pomodoro sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Although it’s common to sauce traditional pizza before its voyage into the oven, Detroit-style pizza says otherwise. Izzy’s tops its pizzas with signature red sauce after the pizza has cooked, serving as the topping to the zesty ‘za. The Geigers said using concepts they like and brainstorming how they can incorporate them into pizza makes for fun collaborations that challenge them to think outside the box. “Almost anything goes with bread and cheese,” Brett Geiger said. “I think that resonates no matter where you go—you can tailor it to the environment.” 

Whether it’s a tasty treat or a way of life, the beloved pizza has captured hearts around the world. There’s something about a flattened, flavorful bread dough flawlessly sauced and coated in cheese that makes one feel satisfied. Use your hands, fold it in half, grab a fork and knife—however you indulge, here’s to the craft, dedication, and nostalgia behind the classic comfort food.

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