Serious Eats named 30 regional styles, and the passionate comment section hinted at myriads more. However, none of that prepares you for the flavors and textures to be found at Paya Deli, Pizza and Catering in Dubois, Wyoming.
Paya's billboard, promising artisan, wood-fired pizza, caught our eyes as we entered town. After miles and miles of inspiring, near-wilderness landscapes and stunning untouched scenery, artisan pizza was the last thing we expected to see.
But that's Dubois for you. Something unexpected around every corner: a disc golf course nestled at the foot of the mountains, a bobcat creeping through someone's backyard, a cyclist with butt-length dreadlocks sailing past a herd of cattle.
So, artisan pizza in rural Wyoming? Not really that surprising.
We ordered two pies, a simple one (the control group, if you will), and something a little different: pepperoni pizza with tomato sauce and a pesto based-pie topped with smoked chicken, respectively.
This review would be incomplete if I didn't mention that Paya freshly slices most of its meat and cheese. One minute it's in the glass deli case, the next minute that hunk of top quality mozzarella is being sliced thin. Fresh pizza ingredients are such a turn-on.
Both pizzas came out well-done with slightly crispy cheese. Some like it soft and gooey, others like it more firm: it's totally a matter of opinion. I usually prefer my cheese a little softer, but these pies were good enough to convince me otherwise. Also, I get that this isn't your run-of-the-mill assembly line pizza franchise and not every pizza is going to come out uniformly.
The pesto sauce on the chicken pizza was just as good, if not better, especially if you're a basil lover. The chicken maintained a lovely smoky flavor of its own, standing up to the wood smoke flavor imparted from the oven and, instead of being overpowered by it, joined with it in a sweet marriage of smoky goodness.
The crust may have been my favorite part of the whole experience. Plenty of olive oil gave it a cracker-like mouth feel around the edge while still remaining supple and elastic under the toppings. Subtle burn marks on the underside remind you of the authenticity of this pizza.