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Biscuit Love Owners Are Still Rolling the Dough at ‘za

This is pizza done right!

Written by Chris Chamberlain
Biscuit Love Owners Are Still Rolling the Dough at ‘za
'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

If you’ve ever seen (or stood in) the lines to get in the door at Biscuit Love in the Gulch or visited one of their other two locations in Hillsboro Village or Downtown Franklin, you know that the restaurant’s owners Sarah and Karl Worley have a flair for making dough. Specifically the biscuit dough used to make some of the flaky and buttery biscuits used in delicious sandwiches and even desserts at Biscuit Love. The personable couple has taken their talents with flour and fire to a new venture in Hillsboro Village in the same building that houses Biscuit Love.

Their new baby is an artisan pizza parlor called, simply, ‘za, and since opening early last September, new legions of fans have discovered that the Worleys know their way around a pizza peel as well as they do a biscuit pan. The original reason that the Worleys opened Biscuit Love back in the days when it was just a food truck was that they never saw anybody sad at breakfast. Perhaps it’s because the morning meal falls early in the day before anything bad can happen to you yet, or maybe it’s the mimosas, but people really are more genial at breakfast and brunch.

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

'za Wood Fired Pizza; Photo credit: Emily Dorio

Photo Credit: Emily Dorio

'za Wood Fired Pizza

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On a family trip with their daughter Gertie to Italy where they ate all the pizzas, they noticed that people also seemed pretty jovial when they were enjoying slices of pies together, so their thoughts turned to opening up their own pizza spot. Karl returned from Italy and immediately started experimenting with dough recipes in a woodfired oven in his backyard. Unlike most pizzerias that use at most a two-day ferment for their dough, Karl allows his sourdough starter to percolate for four full days to create a delightfully complex flavor in his crust. Practice made perfect as he learned to cook pies in an infernally hot wood oven to create the perfectly charred crust covered with crispy little carbonized spots on the bottom known as “leopard spots” in the pizza biz.

Worley and his staff cook their pizzas in a beautiful Stefano Ferrara oven, imported from Italy after Karl convinced the manufacturer that he was actually serious about cooking pizza the right way. (Those Italians are pretty particular about who gets ahold of their finest equipment.) Karl named the oven after an inspirational instructor from his days in culinary school, and Mr. Devault should be proud of what’s coming out of that oven.

Wood-fired pizzas cook in less than two minutes at temperatures approaching 900 degrees, so you can’t just pile any ingredients on top of the dough since some things would incinerate under that intense heat. The Worleys spent a lot of time developing the recipes for their house pies to create flavor combinations that would tickle the palate but would also survive the pass through the Ferrara. Surprisingly for a restaurant in the meat-centric South, five of the nine pies are actually vegetarian, including a prototypical Margherita pizza topped with tangy red sauce, basil and house-made mozzarella as well as the Yell Talker, a very oniony pie with onion puree, caramelized onions, Pecorino-Romano cheese, scallions and chives. The meaty pies are fantastic, too! Try That Hipster Place in Brooklyn to experience a lovely interplay between spicy sopressata and hot honey or the pie that’s an invention of the Worley’s daughter which they call The Rescuer, a red sauce pie with mozz and Italian sausage that benefits from the ingenious addition of torn mint leaves.

The rest of the menu at ‘za is intentionally brief to lend focus to the dining experience and also because the kitchen in the cozy little restaurant is tiny. Starter options include a puffed slab of wood-fired pizza dough to dip in a mixture of whipped ricotta and honey or a healthy kale Caesar salad. For dessert, there’s The Vincenzo, a tiramisu whip topped with caramel crunch, and that’s it. But that’s plenty!

The vibe at ‘za is very family-oriented with large communal tables where kids can play while parents sip on either wine or beer on tap while everybody enjoys a meal together. An outdoor patio almost doubles the number of seats when the weather is nice, and it’s enclosed well enough to be comfortable on all but the nastiest of days. ‘za also offers carry-out and online ordering if you’d prefer to enjoy your pizzas in the comfort of your own home. However it’s more than worth it to take the time to dine in and enjoy the convivial atmosphere of ‘za and experience the passion that the Worleys and their team put into creating some of the best pies in Nashville. Plus, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re eating pizza, right?