A Proper Pizza
George and Elizabeth Goodman moved from Budapest to New York City in 1998 when they were both in their late 20s. Seven years later, they decided they wanted, as George puts it, “a proper life, an easy life.” They looked at a few cities and chose Cleveland, ultimately landing in Olmsted Falls with their then-11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.
With a yard for the first time since leaving Budapest, George got an idea. He bought a wood-fired pizza oven and put it on a trailer so that he could use it anywhere on his property.
He picked up some dough from Wal-Mart and made his first pizza. “It was so bad,” Elizabeth remembers. “He said he was going to make his own dough and I thought ‘Oh, here we go.’ The whole house was filled with flour.”
George eventually created a decent dough (not perfect, but we’ll get to that) and they began inviting friends over for pizza. Before they knew it, people were asking him to bring the trailer to their houses for parties and a catering business was born.
“I had nothing to do with pizza seven years ago,” George says. “I was a remodeler. The whole thing happened accidentally and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Last October, the Goodmans took their business to the next level, opening In Forno on Chester Road in Avon. The 11-table space is bright and modern, and it has an open kitchen that’s dominated by a Stefano Ferrara wood-fired pizza oven from Naples.
The pizza served is authentic Neapolitan, which means it resembles the kind delivered to your door in a box about as much as a Ferrari does a Ford.
It starts with the dough that George ultimately took four years to perfect. “It’s flour, yeast, salt and water,” George says. “The question is if you can get it right. It’s a lot of little things that have to come together.”
The sauce is made in-house, too, using just salt, oregano, pepper and canned tomatoes from Italy. “And we buy the best cheese,” George adds.
That’s when the fun starts. In Forno offers a dozen or so different pizzas — all about 12 inches and with the thinnest-possible crust. Elizabeth’s favorite is the Celeste, a white pizza with truffle-and-artichoke paste, two cheeses, arugula, olive oil and mushrooms from a grower in Medina County. (Despite the fact that she eats it often — as well as the shop’s amazing limoncello cake, tiramisu and gelato — she’s dropped from a size 4 to a 0 since opening In Forno. “I’m on my feet from 10 to 10,” she says.)
George’s favorite is the classic Margherita, which is just tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, oregano and olive oil.
All of the pizzas, which are intended to serve one and range from $11 to $16, are almost elegant in their simplicity, with toppings that complement each other rather than compete.
“Load it up!” is a comment George has heard from a handful of guests. “I’m so sorry,” he tells them as nicely as possible. “We do not load this pizza up. This is not about that. This is a proper Neapolitan pizza.”