Sort-of Secret: Good Wheel Pizza, a frozen pizza start-up that delivers bake-at-home sourdough pies
The sort-of secret: Good Wheel Pizza, a new frozen pizza company with standout sourdough crust
You may have heard of it if: You spotted their pies in the aisles of Fiesta Farms
But you probably haven’t tried it because: This small-batch business is only two months old
It’s safe to say that Alex Commons, a knife maker turned pizza startup co-founder, is obsessed with pizza. When the pandemic hit, he tried a different frozen pie every Sunday over the course of a few months, eating them during Zoom poker nights with friends. He was generally unimpressed by what he found, lamenting their failure to translate pizzeria freshness to the home experience.
At the same time, his business, Bulat Chef Knife, slowed down because of pandemic-related manufacturing hurdles. So he teamed up with his brother Jordan, who happens to be a chef, to begin a painstaking recipe testing process aimed at creating a pizza that holds onto its magic through freezing and reheating. The result is Good Wheel Pizza, a fledgling business that’s already amassed a cult following and has made its way onto some of the city’s supermarket shelves.
The thick-ish sourdough crust is really something. Made with a blend of 00 (double-zero) flours, the crust has a remarkable spring and tang that’s uncanny for a product that’s been par-cooked, frozen and reheated. A three-day fermentation, first at room temperature and then cold, is the secret sauce. “Jordan and I tested so many different flours and fermentation techniques,” says Commons. “It was by far the biggest challenge of the testing process.”
Fresh-tasting toppings were another hurdle. “How do you make sure the toppings are at the perfect stage when they come out of the oven at home? That took a lot of tweaking,” Alex says. Of course, any good pizza lives and dies by its sauce; the pair tried scores of canned and fresh tomato varieties before settling on one that stays bright and balanced through freezing (though they won’t reveal which one that is).
The quality of the sauce is easiest to taste in Good Wheel’s simplest offering: the classic margherita, dotted with medallions of herbaceous vegan pesto and topped with stretchy, high-fat mozzarella. The sauce is bright, sweet and just acidic enough to make the tomato flavour pop—this is an excellent margherita by any standard, frozen or not. It goes well with Good Wheel’s own dipping sauce, a garlic-parmesan recipe that Commons calls an upscale version of Pizza Pizza’s creamy garlic sauce. That’s an apt description. With plenty of fresh parm, it’s a funkier, more textured version of the big pizza chain’s.
The Hot Hawaiian is another top offering. Smoked bacon lardons, hot banana peppers and grilled pineapple make for a sweet-and-spicy flavour combo sure to appeal to even the most vehement pineapple-on-pizza opposers. Some other varieties currently on offer are Hot and Honey, Ionian (pickled eggplant, spinach, feta, sesame) and good old pepperoni. All Good Wheel pizzas benefit from a piping hot oven; be sure to let yours preheat to a solid 500F before you cook, and keep an eye on it after a few minutes. Hot and fast is the name of the game here.
Round out your pizza night with their frozen, ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookies. They come in hefty dough balls you’ll want to space apart generously, since they bake up wide. Crispy yet soft in the middle, these cookies are the best of both worlds, and generously buttery so as to retain their chew well after baking. Just be careful not to overcook—when they’re ready, they’ll still be a little soft to the touch straight out of the oven.
You can find Good Wheel Pizza products at Fiesta Farms, a much-loved independent grocer near Christie and Dupont (with arguably one of the city’s best produce sections). Otherwise, you can order online for delivery, which is currently available for postal codes that start with M. And for true (ahem) pizza of mind, you can even opt for a monthly subscription and save $5 an order. As for the future of the business, there may be a brick-and-mortar pizzeria when circumstances are more favourable. Keep an eye on their socials for the latest.