Westward Ho!

A talented pizzaiolo moves from Brooklyn to Los Gatos

Hate to break the news, but the Bay Area's best new pizza is being made by yet another New York expat.

After five years cooking at cult Bushwick spot Roberta's, Angelo Womack was ready to get out of New York.

His fiancée's family, the former owners of Restaurant James Randall in downtown Los Gatos, were looking to go casual, so the Brooklyn couple moved west and opened Oak and Rye in November.

James Randall chef Ross Hanson oversees the non-baked dishes (spicy pork meatballs, polenta with lamb ragu), while Womack mans the oven. "I'm a pizzaiolo; I would never call myself a chef," he says.

The penny-covered oven at Oak and Rye
Womack hired Mugnaini, located in Watsonville, to install a custom wood-fired oven tiled with pennies. Then he translated his style from Brooklyn to the South Bay by rejiggering the dough recipe and sourcing meats from Fra' Mani and Creminelli.

The pizza succeeds on crust alone: It has the char of Zero Zero's Neapolitan pies and the crack and bubble of Gialina's.

A persistence of smoke gives a classic Margherita ($12) twice its usual depth of flavor and wraps itself around the spicy and sweet flavors of the Scotty 2 Hottie ($15), which comes topped with sopressata, mozzarella and faint swirls of honey and pepperoncini oil.

Womack's favorite, a BLT-inspired pie, is topped with Nueske's bacon, arugula and a little Cheddar. "We do pizza as pizza should be done," he says. "It should be fun."