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Eye On | Fire and Ice — Contrasting personalities: Authentic Italian cuisine in a casual atmosphere

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Max Payton slices up a colazione pizza at Fire, a restaurant at Pybus Public Market.

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Contrasting flavors and colors make up Fire and Ice at Pybus Market in Wenatchee. Products of the popular Italian restaurant Visconti’s in Leavenworth and Wenatchee, both Fire and Ice give its customers a relaxing atmosphere with options to suit any palate.

Fire is aptly named and gives its customers pizza and other Italian-themed foods cooked in a wood fire brick oven. The open flame licks and cooks the freshly made dough and toppings for a unique eating experience. Fire also features pasta, brats, salads, appetizers, and desserts to complement their pies.

The key to Fire’s Neapolitan-style pizzeria is in the oven. Fire and Ice manager Richard Berry said the oven was imported from Italy and is kept running at approximately 700-800 degrees Fahrenheit, giving Fire’s food a unique and crisp taste.

The meats and cheeses found at Fire are local and are cured at Cured – Visconti’s butcher shop in Leavenworth. Fire and Ice manager Richard Berry said this ensures the food is not only fresh and local but delicious and authentic.

Unless you’re going to a large city like a Seattle or Los Angeles, you’re not going to have this kind of pizza unless you’re in Italy,” Berry said. “This is not Americanized pizza or something you’ll get from one of those chains. This is as Italian as it gets. The wood fire sets us apart.”

Take a seat at the bar at Fire and you’ll soon see that the options don’t stop at food. There is a plethora of beers on tap and others are available by the bottle, and Fire’s wine selection leaves little to be desired. Named the Restaurant of the Year in 2013 by the Washington State Wine Awards, the reds and whites that grace the walls of the restaurant give Fire’s customers plenty of options.

We have a few local-area beers on tap here, but the big thing is our wine selection,” Berry said. “We have about 12-14 imported Italian wines right now and like six or seven local wines, as well.”

Frequent customer Emilia Johnson of Wenatchee said that although the food and drink go a long way in bringing her back to Fire time and time again, it is the ambiance of Pybus Market, the smells of the wood oven, and the friendliness of the staff that wins her over.

You just come down to Pybus, and you immediately feel happier,” Johnson said. “You walk through the doors and the lighting is nice, there is a quiet hum of people talking about their days or the weekend ahead. You sit down at Fire and you’re immediately greeted by that wave of delicious food smell and a smiling waitress or waiter. What more could you really ask for? You just take off your coat and warm up next to this huge oven and let the day’s stresses just sort of melt away.”

Fire has tables for family or intimate dinners as well as a bar area for those looking to have a cold beer or a solid three fingers of red. Once the weather warms up in the spring, Fire opens up its outdoor seating to the masses so that its customers can enjoy the Wenatchee Valley’s rays.

In stark contrast to Fire’s warm ambiance, Ice aims to be “the chilliest place in town.” The restaurant is popular for its Italian style gelato – an ice cream alternative that is made with whole milk and cooked before freezing – which gives the consumer a lighter, smoother dessert with a powerful punch of flavor.

Berry said the egg nog flavor was the most popular over the holiday season, and that the moch- flavored gelato is a top seller because of its ease to be combined with steamy espresso.

The beauty about gelato is that is lighter, fluffier because it’s made with the whole milk instead of the cream,” Berry said. “We make it about 20 feet away from where it’s served.”

GelLattes (which is a frozen coffee shake with gelato) and Affogato (Explained as espresso drizzled over a pair of scoops of gelato) give the gelato expert some variety or an extra jolt.

Crepes are the right hook to Ice’s proverbial one-two punch, and Ice gives the customer a few different options as to what comes in their dish. Want sweet? Get the banana, strawberry or Nutella crepes. Looking more for savory? Ask for a bacon, egg, and cheese crepe to go along with your creamy espresso gelato. If you are just looking for a hot coffee drink, don’t fret: Ice has espressos, cappuccinos, Americanos, lattes, mochas, and drip coffees made to order.

Gelato isn’t really a destination item, so we brought crepes on to give Ice another dimension,” Berry said. “Ice is open a little earlier in the morning for the breakfast crowd.”

Ice is not different from Fire in its commitment to excellent fresh and local ingredients, as parent company Visconti’s makes sure Ice is stocked with those ingredients daily. Berry said it’s this commitment to freshness that produces such a quality product.

The Italian connection from Fire continues into Ice next door. The espresso machine is the Italian-made Lamarzocco and produces some of the finest espresso in the city.

So whether you’re in the mood for a tasty and unique treat to jumpstart your morning, or looking to unwind after a long day or week, Visconti’s Fire and Ice inside Pybus Market will welcome you with open arms. 

Pretty much every Friday night I come on down around 6 o’clock and grab my favorite seat at the bar,” Johnson said. “Meatball pizza is my go-to.”

Fire is open 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. on Saturday. Ice is open 8 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.- 10 p.m. on Friday, and 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. on Saturday.