Become a Pizza Pro at Max’s Coal Oven

April 3,2012

Armed with the only genuine coal-burning oven in Georgia, Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria lures die-hard and casual pizza lovers alike with its perfectly crisp crust and distinct taste and texture that’s been a hallmark of New York City pizzerias for more than a century.  Now, the popular downtown eatery in the heart of the Luckie Marietta District lifts the curtain on its unique 1,500-degree coal burning processand lets Atlanta foodies in on the secret to creating the perfect pie.        

Starting this month, Max’s will host a two-hour interactive pizza making class that begins at 8:30 p.m. on select Mondays.  Dates for the inaugural spring session are April 16, April 30, May 7, May 14, June 11 and June 18.  A talented "Pizzaiolo" (pronounced peetza-yolo), your instructor for the night, will guide you through an entertaining and educational culinary journey starting with the history of pizza and coal burning ovens in the United States. 

The coal burning process has played a large role in pizza history.  The first pizzeria in America, Lombardi’s, to this day still uses a coal-fired oven.  Other famous NYC pizzerias such as Patsy’s and Grimaldi’s use coal-fired ovens, but New York City almost exceeds the number of coal-fired ovens in the rest of the country combined.  The key characteristic of this process is its consistent and even heat, which cooks pizza crusts to an optimal thin and crispy texture.      

“For us, the coal burning process is paramount.  We believe it’s the richest in tradition and flavor,” said Brian Bullock, managing partner for Legacy Restaurant Partners.  “It’s difficult to find this signature style of pizza in the south, and we are proud to bring it to Atlanta and truly deliver that authentic New York flavor at Max’s.”

After this brief introduction over wine and appetizers, guests will be led on a tour of Max’s oven and experience first hand how to add the coal, stoke the fire and bring it up to temperature.  They will learn about the flour’s grinding and milling process which gives the dough its all-important elasticity.  Next up, participants will get some hands-on action making their own dough balls, then stretching and throwing the dough to create their own crusts.  Pizzaiolos will provide insight on the different ingredients and toppings used – including a comparative taste test – and guests will build their pizzas before finally feeding them into the oven. 

To wind down the evening, participants will feast on the pizzas they prepared – everyone sharing with each other to get a sampling of the wide variety of styles available from margherita to veggie to meat lover’s.  You can post a picture of your pizza on Max’s Facebook page, and the guest with the most “likes” by the following day will receive a free giftcard!               

The cost to attend a pizza class at Max’s is $20, which includes your meal and two drinks for the night.  Space is limited to eight guests per class and must be reserved in advance.  To sign up, please call Max’s at 404.974.2941. 

Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria is located downtown in the Luckie Marietta District at 300 Marietta Street, Atlanta, GA 30313.  Hours of operation are Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.  For more information or to make a reservation, call 404.974.2941 or visit