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They come to the Tastin' Room at the new Sly Fox Brewery in Pottstown for the beer,
of course, but more than a few visitors leave talking about the pizza.

Tastin' Room manager Craig Coffman says that the near unanimous praise for the tasty pies that he, assistant Nick Cimino and a staff of part-timers turn out is all about the ingredients.

"We have no freezer so everything is very fresh," he explains. "We use ingredients of the highest quality and as many as possible are locally sourced. Our Caputo flour is imported from Naples and is considered the best pizza flour in the world.

"To give our pizzas a special Sly Fox touch, we are using a small amount of spent grain which we dry out and blend with that flour. It definitely imparts a special flavor and color to the crust. We make our dough one or two days ahead of time and then divide it up into dough balls by hand. We put them into a box that that we seal and put in the refrigerator to cold ferment for 36 hours. That develops the flavor profile and creates air bubbles in the gluten to give it nice fluffy, stretchy character."

The Tastin' Room uses a GL50 Greenline Spiral Mixer manufactured by the Univex Corporation, one of the leading U.S. suppliers of food preparation equipment, to make its dough. the GL50 is highly energy efficient and has a 70 qt. capacity, which is higher than the 40-60 qt. industry standard for pizzerias. The bowl rotates as well as the beater attachment in spiral mixers, which are specifically designed for high volume dough preparation. That process better develops the dough with gentler kneading and less heat during the mixing to prevent the yeast from fermenting too quickly.

The Tastin' Room oven is a 110-PAGW gas/wood combination unit from Earthstone Ovens and runs at about 750 degrees on average (typical corner pizza shop ovens run at 550 degrees). The heavy duty gas burner system is engineered for optimum performance and long term reliable operation and a solenoid-based burner control automatically adjusts flame height and intensity to maintain the preset temperature. It is the same model oven used at the highly regarded Barbuzza Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar in Philadelphia.

"The oven can comfortably hold three pizzas at a time and cooking time is roughly three minutes," says Coffman. "Our basic pizza is the Margherita, made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella-which comes in on brine and has to be dried out first-and fresh basil. The Garden Pizza is very popular as well. We bake fresh cloves of garlic in the oven, crush and blend them with olive oil to create a spread to put on the crust, then top it with a 50-50 cheese blend of mozzarella and provolone with just a touch of cheddar, plus diced tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms."

Customers can also design their own pizzas if they want or choose from various special offerings. A Kielbasa Pizza is one of the latter and has turned out to be a big hit. "Our kielbasa is made fresh for us by Freeland Markets in the Pottstown Farmers Market. We then smoke it slowly three times before hanging it in our walk-in cold room to dry. It's sliced very thin and put on the pie like pepperoni, along with one of our homemade BBQ sauces instead of tomato sauce, that same 50-50 cheese blend and caramelized onions."

Pulled pork, brisket (both smoked overnight) and chicken sliders are also selling strongly, Coffman says, as well as fresh salads. "We're still feeling our way and will keep adding things to the menu as we can, either as standard items or special treats. We are experimenting with making bite-sized pretzel bits right now, which we'll serve with a cheese dip and/or mustard dip."

The Tastin' Room, which always has a dozen or more beers on tap, is open Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 am - 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am - 10:00 pm and Sunday 11:30 am - 8:00 pm. Tours of the brewery are given on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 and 4:00 pm and are usually booked solid so customers are urged call and reserve a place in advance.

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