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New pizza restaurant set for Asheville

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1/16/2013 - New pizza restaurant set for Asheville
by Mackensy Lunsford

ASHEVILLE -- David Bauer is a grain man.

Bauer, who has been baking for just more than a decade, owns Farm and Sparrow, a bakery that specializes in wood-fired breads and pastries that have inspired a small but devout following. 

With the help of Brendan Reusing, formerly of the renowned Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, Bauer will build an altar to grain in the River Arts District. 

The new restaurant, called All Souls Pizza, will open in the old Silver Dollar Cafe building, which most recently housed The Asheville Public, which will have its last day of business on Sunday. 

Though the menu will be a collaborative effort, Reusing will be the chef de cuisine. The restaurant should open in late spring or summer and, with Pizza Pura opening in April, will mark the second pizza restaurant to open in a matter of months.

Bauer's devotion to baking extends to ovens, which he sometimes builds by hand. The intense heat of the wood-fired ovens he prefers imparts a deep flavor and striking texture into all of his baked goods. While few bakers could claim to know the age of their flour, Bauer can tell you his is milled at his bakery on a daily basis. His fixation with freshly milled wheat and other grains will manifest itself in the menu at All Souls.

Bauer's imported Austrian mill has already been put to good experimental use, milling nearly 20 different types of flour so far. While pizza will be the order of the day in the restaurant, the menu will also offer pasta made from unlikely ingredients like heirloom Abruzzi rye and Italian Alpine buckwheat. "There will be an emphasis on a lot of the grains that have been neglected but have a long history here," Bauer said.

Polenta will be milled at the restaurant right before it's cooked. Flour for pizza dough and pasta will also be milled fresh daily.

"I'm pretty obsessed with the flavor of fresh flour, especially finely-sifted, delicate flours that have all of these beautiful floral notes to them," Bauer said.

Most pizza flours, he pointed out, have been sitting in warehouses long enough to lose their flavor. "To me it's always been a contradiction that we grow soft wheat here, we export it, and then it gets made into pizza flour and comes back to give you an authentic pizza experience. We're trying to get to the roots of things and mill soft wheat fresh every day so you can experience it."

Farm and Sparrow will not be affected by the opening of All Souls Pizza, said Bauer. "I feel very strongly about my roots and my foundation. My place is here at the bakery," he said.

As for the name, it's not a nod to the Biltmore Village church, but to the notion that all souls are welcome. "We want this to be a place that didn't have an ounce of exclusivity to it," Bauer said.

"We want to have interesting food, and we also want it to be a place where you can come and get a beer and also grab a piece of pepperoni pizza made with local pepperoni, local dairy and local wheat."

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