It’s the nearly universally loved food. People will go out of their way to argue which toppings and sauces are the best, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who dislikes pizza all together.
As far back as I can remember, pizzas of all shapes, sizes and flavors have been a welcome and consistent part of my diet.
Except pineapple-topped pizza. That is an abomination.
Regardless, pizza at first glance seems easy enough to make — just cover some dough with sauce, cheese and a topping or two, bake and enjoy. And yet, a truly well-made pizza is not an easy thing to find. But find some I did at Wake and Bake Pizza and Coffee Company on the square in Jacksonville, co-owned by Sandy Knight and Dev Wakeley.
They know what they’re doing.
A couple of Jacksonville State University graduates with years of culinary experience under their belts, Knight and Wakeley decided to strike out on their own a year and a half ago with a restaurant that caters to the late-night cravings of college students.
“When we were here at JSU, all the places were keeping Mayberry hours here,” Knight said, referring to the lack of late-night food options in Jacksonville.
So though Wake and Bake is open for lunch, most of its business is done in the late hours of the night. I’m talking bar-closing late — as late as 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
But whatever time you go to Wake and Bake, the food is worth the trip. The dough is basically perfect.
“I had the dough recipe perfected before I even signed the lease on the place,” Wakeley said.
So sure, you can order a standard pepperoni or sausage pizza and it will taste delicious. But why be boring?
Instead, try one of Wake and Bake’s many specialty pizzas, such as Foghorn’s Revenge, featuring the wonderfully blended flavors of buffalo chicken and ranch dressing. One of my favorites is the PB&J, which in this case stands for pepperoni, bacon and jalapeños, with some mozzarella cheese and a spicy red sauce thrown in as well.
It’s a slap to the taste buds that’ll convert a drum circle of vegans.
All the ingredients are fresh. No chemicals or synthetic stuff here, and that includes their coffee and cookie offerings.
By the way, do yourself a favor and save room for the cookies. The ingredients that go into them are as wild as those in the pizzas and yet they work well together. Knight makes a different kind of cookie every day, choosing ingredients based off her mood. Last Wednesday I tried her margarita cookies. The unmistakable taste of tequila in every bite was something to behold.
The dynamic duo have done well so far, making a profit their first year. But Knight and Wakeley want to do more. Recently, they started a Kickstarter fundraiser to buy a food truck and hopefully will soon offer catering services.
“Think of how cool it would be to book us for a frat party,” Knight said.
To help with the fundraising, go to www.kickstarter.com or visit their Facebook page.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.