Firing Up a Culinary Dream
By Bridget Ann Whitfield | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
Toss ‘n’ Fire Wood-Fired Pizza has a mission to stand out from the crowd. With traditional staples imported from Naples — like the Pavesi oven and doppio zero flour — specific details and ingredients result in show-stopping pies at the shop in North Syracuse.
Owner Nick Sanford explained that while he has incorporated traditional equipment and styles of pizza making at his restaurant, he always strives to put his own spin on the simple Neapolitan pie and introduce his customers to new flavors.
Some crowd-pleasing pies are the Cheeky Monkey, featuring local Cheeky Monkey Foods tomato oil and Toss ‘n’ Fire’s house-made meatballs; the Fig ‘n’ Pig, highlighting a combination of fig jam and prosciutto; and the town’s favorite, ‘Cuse Salt Potato Pizza — the popularity’s in the name.
For as long as he can remember, Nick’s had a passion for pizza. Eventually, his passion evolved into a vision of his own one-of-a-kind shop. When he began the journey in 2015, his ideas first came to life as a food truck.
Nick purchased a trailer, customized it to include a mobile wood-fired oven and hit the road. He set up shop all around the county, including stints at the Central New York Regional Market, Taste of Syracuse, Blues Fest and New York State Fair.
It was the most affordable way Nick could start living the dream. But after conversations with customers who loved his concepts, he started thinking about expanding.
“Every public event that we’d go to — almost every single one — the question we’d get from multiple people was, ‘Where’s your shop? Where can we get your pizza? Where can we go and have you on a Tuesday?’” Nick said.
With growing interest from the community, and a trailer totally booked for the summer of 2016, Toss ‘n’ Fire bought another food truck to better serve the high demand.
But that wasn’t the end of Toss ‘n’ Fire’s transformative year. When an old pizza shop closed on Main Street in North Syracuse, Nick decided to take the leap, and give Toss ‘n’ Fire a permanent home.
He opened in October, and couldn’t be happier. In the months since Toss ‘n’ Fire opened its doors, the community has been receptive to the shop’s innovative style, he said.
“The customers in North Syracuse are great. Everyone has been really welcoming,” Nick said. “Our base customers that have been following us since we started — we see a lot of them on a regular basis, which is awesome.”
Now that Toss ‘n’ Fire has a home and two homes-away-from-home, Nick is able to welcome customers to the shop during the week, and still serve the wider community at events and catering locations when given the opportunity.
Thus far, he’s only booked his trucks at local events, but Nick said he’s open to traveling to other cities, if that’s what the future holds.
“Really doing stuff that every single person isn’t doing — that is my biggest thing,” Nick said. “Let’s do something that’s unique, fun and exciting.” SWM
Toss ‘n’ Fire Wood-Fired Pizza is located at 315 N. Main St. in North Syracuse. Visit the shop 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. For menu, events and more, visit tossnfirepizza.com.