When one envisions the perfect pizza, many things come to mind. Some desire a thin pie and a fluffy crust spotted with pepperoni. Others yearn for a dense pie with a crunchy crust topped by the usual suspects: sausage, olives, peppers, anchovies, onions, and extra cheese. Utilizing fresh, local products, a custom-made wood-fire pizza oven-trailer hybrid and a serious passion for pizza, Bola Pizza owner and food blogger Christian Bowers seeks to restore pizza to its rightful place in the culinary world as an entree, rather than mere utility food.
While maintaining his blog, Austin Food Journal, Bowers runs his pizza-catering company out of his North Austin backyard. The pizza project began as a content builder for his blog.
“I was going to blog about the build-up over a series of months, which I did, but it kind of took on a life of its own. It became a business once I put it on a trailer,” Bowers said.
Bowers claims three years of practice before perfecting his pizza dough, which is fermented in cold temperatures for three days, similar to the process of making sourdough bread.
“When I was working on the dough, I was making it twice a week for about three years. That means for dinner twice a week, we’d have pizza, me and my wife. And I ain’t sick of it yet!” Bowers joked.
Over time, the Bowers’ began inviting friends over to their house for what Christian’s wife, Jamie, dubbed “pizza night.” As word spread, their pizza nights grew to full-on parties, and people began asking Bowers for lessons.
“Then some of those people said, ‘Oh, could you just come over to our house and make pizza for some of our friends when they come over?’ At about the same time, I had ordered the oven, and I thought, ‘Well shoot, you know, let’s put this thing on a trailer, and when someone asks us to do this again we’ll just take the whole oven over,’” Bowers said.
And so Bola Pizza was born. The company gets its name from the Bowers’ beloved dog, a Blue Lacy named Bola.
“Bola was our dog for a long time, and he’s no longer with us,” Bowers said. “My wife, Jamie, would call him our official crust taster when our pizza night was just me and her. He could smell me making the dough, and he’d come running.”
Although Bola never got to see the pizza oven, his enthusiasm for pizza crust has certainly transferred to his owner and has become the pinnacle of the company’s product.
“It’s all about the crust. If a pizza doesn’t have a good crust, it’s a zero in my book. It’s kind of like the saying, ‘Sushi’s all about the rice.’ It’s the same thing … I’m more sparse on the toppings, so you can taste the bread,” Bowers said.
Staying true to his foodie roots, Bowers’ gourmet menu boasts a powerful range of toppings, from bolognese to pesto to mushroom, and even lamb pizzas. The menu also suggests wine pairings for each of its delectable pies.
“The pizzas we’ve designed culinarily, I think, are interesting pizzas,” Bowers said. “On our mushroom pizza, it’s not just mushroom caps on top of a cheese pizza. We mince up crimini mushrooms and cook them down with thyme, white wine and shallots, just like you’d do with French preparation, and put mushroom sauce on top of it. That’s a lot more interesting way to interact and eat mushrooms than it is to throw on some caps on it.”
Fellow food blogger and pizza night frequenter Michelle Cheng shares her experience with Bowers’ pies.
“Their pizza is the best in town, hands down. The crust is perfect — just chewy enough, just crunchy enough, and just a little bit sour, so you know it was properly aged,” Cheng said.
Since Bola Pizza is a catering company, one must book them through their website to sample the Bowers’ tantalizing pizza. For a party of 40, the tab comes to be about $1200.
“It sounds like a lot, but it’s about $25 a person, and it’s all-you-can-eat pizza,” Bowers said. “Then, everyone after 40 people is $20 per person … We bring the plates, napkins, trash cans, so it’s kind of a self-contained party.”