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    This article appears in the December 2011 issue of LouisvilleMagazine. To subscribe, please visit **use this link

    Perhaps you remember when (dearly missed) restaurateur Bim Deitrich opened Allo Spiedo on Frankfort Avenue in 1994, touting crispy-crusted pizzas made quickly in a wood-stoked oven. The taste imparted by the hickory (and the liberal use of olive oil) took much of Louisville by storm. So it goes with the introduction of a coal-fired oven at this aptly named restaurant in the St. Matthews Vogue Center. The char look and flavor recalls burgers and brats from pre-gas-grill cookout days, when the heat source actually meant something, taste-wise. Because the baking process — which uses low-impurity anthracite coal — is so hot and so short, the puffed-up edge of the dough retains its soft interior while its “skin” has the crispiness of a kettle chip. There are 12 specialty-pie choices, several of them tomato-less, with enticing topping combinations — from the Waverly (prosciutto, fig jam, Asiago, mozzarella, Gorgonzola, balsamic reduction, shaved Parmesan) to the Bardstown (wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, mozz, mascarpone, ricotta and Parmesan) to our favorite, the Clifton, whose fennel sausage, caramelized onions, mozz and Romano, and bright marinara are accompanied by sweet roasted piquillo peppers. The toppings are evenly distributed, the thin bottom crusts are flexible without any sogginess, the marinara and cheese are nicely proportioned rather than overbearing. All in all, a perfect 12-inch pie. No wonder the dining room is invariably packed at dinner hour. Big economy tip: Stop there for lunch, share a smaller version with a friend, and admire the price tag — about $8. Photos: Courtesy John Nation

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