Is a pizza with Brussels sprouts and honey still an authentic pizza?

Yes, according to Angelo Womack, one of the owners of Los Gatos’ new pizza-centric restaurant, Oak & Rye—so long, he says, as the concoction is fun and tastes good.

Womack learned to push the boundaries of pizza-making as chef at Brooklyn’s acclaimed pizza joint, Roberta’s. Following a quick remodel over the summer, Oak & Rye opened last month in the space previously occupied by Restaurant James Randall and, in fact, retained RJR’s former executive chef, Ross Hanson. He oversees Oak & Rye’s non-pizza fare, which includes small plates, steaks, chops and chicken, while Womack focuses on turning out unconventional pies from Oak & Rye’s new wood-fired pizza oven. talked with Womack about all things wood-fired. How does baking pizza in a wood-fired oven make the pizza taste different than a standard gas oven?

Womack: It’s the element of heat. A regular oven, you can only bring them up to certain temperatures. But with these wood-fired ovens, I can bring my ovens to 1050 degrees if I like. What these ovens do, if you use them the right way, they should give [pizzas] a char. If you do your dough the right way, that char should taste almost sweet instead of bitter.

Are you doing traditional thin crust Neapolitan style pizzas?

We are Neapolitan-inspired in that it’s not too complex. You basically want to showcase the produce and meats. When you cook things in the wood-fired oven, it cooks so fast, you’re not losing the essence of your items. A pizza in here cooks about a minute and a half, compared to most pizzerias which are about 8-10 minutes. Our crust has life to it, like a French baguette: crispy outside and a very tender inside.

You use some interesting ingredients like fennel (Fennel Destination) and egg (Hog Whisperer).

The most popular is one called the Scotty 2 Hottie. It’s a pizza I made at Roberta’s in New York called the Bee Sting, and it got big there, so I brought it here. It has sopressata and honey. It’s a really great balance of spicy and sweet.

You also have the Brussel and Flow, but Brussels sprouts might be a tough sell for some pizza eaters. How do you make that work?

You roast the Brussels sprouts halfway then you cook them on the pizza the rest of the way. It’s like a cabbage. Put that with some prosciutto cotto, which is like a ham. What gives it the most flavor—other than the Brussels sprouts—is the pecorino cheese, which is a sharp sheep’s milk cheese. So that really helps it pop. There’s the sweet onion on there. It’s a very well balanced pie. People get very surprised when they try it.