‘Our calling card:’ New Sask. business firing up authentic Neopolitan pizza

Luke Chudleigh and Ciara Middlebrook launched La Fenice Pizzeria over May long weekend. -- La Fenice Pizzeria/Facebook

A new food truck is serving up a distinct style of food the north has never seen before.

La Fenice Pizzeria launched May long weekend. The business – which specializes in classic Neopolitan pizza – has been splitting its time between Candle Lake and Prince Albert.

“It’s like premium comfort food. We try and take everything that people typically love to eat at a bar or a pub and then we just try and take it to the next level,” said co-owner Luke Chudleigh.

“That’s really our calling card, is a home cooked meal.”

The pizzeria also serves homemade smash burgers, pulled pork, nachos and organic lemonade.

Chudleigh and his business partner, Ciara Middlebrook, make each of the elements from scratch. 

“We’re not buying the cheapest packaged burgers and wieners we can find and cooking that,” said Middlebrook.

“(It’s) also educating people on what Neopolitan-style pizza is, because there is a bit of char, it’s cooked in a different fashion.”

La Fenice Pizzeria is one of two places in Saskatchewan you can order classic Neopolitan pizza, but the only restaurant outside of Regina and Saskatoon. — La Fenice Pizzeria/Facebook

The pizza dough requires a 24 to 48-hour fermentation, and then is stretched by hand. The pizza cooks in a thousand-degree oven for about 60 seconds, opposed to a slow, 20-minute cook.

This makes it ideal for a food truck, the pair said, because they’re able to prepare and cook a pizza in a short amount of time.

“We had a customer who spent a month in Italy. She was saying that this was the closest she’s had in terms of quality in pizza from when she was in Italty, so we are getting a lot of positive feedback,” said Middlebrook.

Chudleigh said the couple’s love for cooking started with his soy allergy. They began creating all of their favourite meals at home because not many restaurants could cater to his dietary requirements.

When he went on disability leave after a triple shoulder surgery, he turned to making food.

“I was trying to figure out things to do to keep my mind busy. I just stumbled upon pizza,” he described.

“I came across Neopolitation. I was like ‘That seems like a challenge.’”

It was. 

It took months of learning before Chudleigh was able to master the art of authentic Neopolitan dough.

Luke Chudleigh’s Neopolitan dough requires a few hours of work time and 24 to 48 hours of fermentation. It cooks in a high heat oven for about 60 seconds. — La Fenice Pizzeria/Facebook

The couple sources their ingredients within Canada.

Meyers Ranch Beef, a family-owned and operated farm near Prince Albert, supplies their meat. Their flour is from a distributor in Chilliwack, BC, the only place in Canada that provides flour able to withstand the high heat.

“We both have a significant passion for cooking and that’s something that we love doing every day. We just figured ‘Hey, maybe we can make a go of it,’” said Chudleigh.

“We’ve been working 12 hour days for three months straight – we still love it.”

Chudleigh and Middlebrook initially looked at commercial properties in Prince Albert, but decided to test the waters with a more cost-effective food truck.

Opening up a brick and mortar restaurant in the future is a possibility, they said.

Taking the food truck route also allows them to split their business between Prince Albert and Candle Lake, where they spend their summers at a family cabin.

La Fenice Pizzeria is the only Neopolitan pizza business in Saskatchewan other than Famoso, a franchise with locations across western Canada. 

Famoso, however, only has restaurants in Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and Regina.