Erik Borger had to do some pretty precise measuring to make sure he could get his brand-new Acunto Mario Forni pizza oven through the front doors of his new restaurant. After all, the oven weighs an astonishing 6,000 pounds – making its placement within Kansas City’s historic River Market neighborhood no easy feat.
Borger has been through this before, when he had his first Acunto wood-fired pizza oven delivered to the original Il Lazzarone in St. Joseph, Missouri. But the oven for this second location, scheduled to open at 412 Delaware in March 2015, is twice as big as the one in St. Joe.
“It is the same process we went through with the first one, but our big challenge here was just figuring out how we were going to get this oven through the front door,” Borger says. “It was our only way into this space.”
As the oven arrives on Tuesday, Dec. 22, Borger’s plan is to take the front doors off their hinges, then lift the oven with a forklift and extend the arm through the front door all the way to the back of the space. The oven will then be lowered toward the cement floor, which Borger had reinforced to hold the weight of the oven, as another person unwraps the oven and slide its giant iron legs down through its sides to the floor to be secured.
But before that can happen, they have to make sure the oven is level and up at shoulder height.
“You don’t want to be working hunched over in front of a giant hot oven,” Borger says.
The giant white plaster oven can cook 10 pizzas in less than 90 seconds. It sits wrapped in plastic on the sidewalk like a present.
People walking by are curious about the mysterious package. Like eager kids on the night before Christmas, they approach the oven, one by one, and poke their head in the vent in the top of the oven trying to guess what it is.
Borger patiently explains his restaurant concept. He mentions his most popular pizza, the Margherita, and how he has the only pizzeria in the area certified as serving authentic Neapolitan pizza by the American Delegation of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. It’s a certification he received in his St. Joseph location, and he plans to apply for it all over again for the River Market location.
“That certification of authenticity speaks directly to the type of pizza we make at Il Lazzerone,” Borger says, “and I want to make sure every one of my locations is meeting that standard.”
Borger is excited to be a part of the River Market area, in a location he had been eyeballing for several years. He’d always associated the neighborhood, he says, with good food and the City Market.
Suddenly, a friend of Borger’s pulls up in front of the new location. Borger greets him as the man gets out of his car and hands Borger a wax paper sack filled with soft, delicious fig-filled iced Italian cookies from the newly opened LaBruzzo’s Sweet Oven Bakery, located just down the street.
“Taste these,” the man says, pressing the sack into Borger’s hand, before getting back into his car and pulling off. At that exact moment, the owner of Quay Coffee, Cory Stipp, pops out from his coffee shop next door and asks if Borger or his construction team need fresh coffee.
“I’ve made friends with the people in this neighborhood,” says Borger with a smile, “and this feels like home to me.”
Kansas City, Missouri