Kingsland welcomes new wood-fired pizza joint Umu Pizza

by Kate Richards / 22 March, 2018
Photography by Ken Downie.
Umu pizza

Umu Pizza owner Simon Murphy slides a fresh pizza out of the three-tonne wood-fired oven.

Umu Pizza, a new pizza joint opens in Kingsland

You’d be right to admire the three-tonne white-tiled oven which sits just inside the door at soon-to-open pizza joint Umu – made by a third generation Naples-born oven maker, the process from building to shipment took five months. When it finally arrived, Umu’s owner Simon Murphy not only had to hire a forklift, four men, three vans, and close part of New North Road to get it in place, he had to remove his entire shopfront too. It’s crucial, he explains, that the wood-fired oven (or umu) is right because it will be the foundation of everything that’s cooked here.

An ex-travel agent shop, redesigned by Gerrick Numan of Mille, Umu is small. All exposed brick and soft pinks the restaurant seats only 24 across three tables of eight, with the bulk of the front-half of the room taken up by the oven and a small bar. Murphy hopes the tight quarters mean a big buzz when the restaurant is full.

Umu pizza

Umu's interior.

But Umu is about more than just a snazzy room, it’s about pizza – one of Murphy’s favourite foods. Pies will be loosely Napoli-style with 36-48 hour fermented sourdough bases made using a mix of Italian 00 and stoneground flours. Toppings include the standard tomato-mozzarella-basil combo but they also veer away from the traditional: Murphy predicts a Hungarian salami, Aleppo pepper and pickled red onion-topped number will be as popular as another non-traditional recipe with homemade lamb merguez, harissa and labneh. “This isn’t strictly Italian food,” he says.

As well as pizza, Umu’s consulting chef Reginaldo Richard (ex-Odettes) has created a couple of wood-fired sides, there’ll be local tap beers from Brothers Brewery and Urbanaut, and wine from Matakana-based organic vineyard, Te Rata. Most of the drinks will be bought by the keg to reduce waste and when they’re empty, the list will change.

And we need to talk about the wood which will be used to stoke the fire in the oven, because choosing it has been a pretty lengthy process. “People like manuka,” says Murphy, “but it doesn’t burn hot enough for pizza.” His oven needs to reach temperatures of 450-500 degrees Celsius, so he’s using a mix of kiln-dried beech and oak with a few manuka and pohutukawa branches for flavour. As is typical with Napoli pizza, each topped base will see a 90-second turn in the oven before being served.

umu pizza

The 'Number One' pizza - tomato, mozzarella, basil.

Murphy, whose first job was incidentally as a pizza delivery boy, is visibly excited about his new venture and has spent several months refining recipes and researching flours, sauces and cheese, even moving out of his east Auckland home to live above the shop while it was renovated. He’s back home with the family now, his umu is seasoned, and the only thing left to do is open the doors.

Umu Pizza opens 24 March 2018

Umu Pizza
469 New North Road, Kingsland

RelatedArticlesModule - Pizza related


The Law Society's #MeToo (But Not Just Yet) moment
90144 2018-04-26 14:40:52Z Social issues

The Law Society's #MeToo (But Not Just Yet) moment…

by The Listener

The Law Society is investigating a female lawyer, but silent about how it’s dealing with sexual misconduct matters.

Read more
New $30b plan to tackle Auckland transport woes unveiled
90118 2018-04-26 12:24:54Z Economy

New $30b plan to tackle Auckland transport woes un…

by RNZ

Nearly $30 billion will be spent on Auckland transport in the next 10 years, partly funded by a fuel tax, private finance and tolls.

Read more
The dark possible motive of the Toronto van attacker
90096 2018-04-26 09:28:54Z World

The dark possible motive of the Toronto van attack…

by Michael Arntfield

Incel - short for involuntary celibacy - has now claimed the suspect in the Toronto van attack, Alek Minassian, as its own.

Read more
Auckland braces for increasing numbers of homeless over winter
90092 2018-04-26 08:47:12Z Social issues

Auckland braces for increasing numbers of homeless…

by Eva Corlett

Groups working with homeless people are bracing themselves for another gruelling few months as winter sets in.

Read more
Fall from grace: Why some mistakes end celebrities' careers when others don't
89980 2018-04-26 00:00:00Z Social issues

Fall from grace: Why some mistakes end celebrities…

by Paul Thomas

In a world a-twitter, small infractions attract hysterical reactions, and abject confession is the only currency with which redemption can be bought.

Read more
Investing after the Global Financial Crisis
90010 2018-04-26 00:00:00Z Investment

Investing after the Global Financial Crisis

by Noted

Fixed interest markets have changed - managers can now pick from a wider range of investments, which is good news for the everyday investor.

Read more
The 3 types of cheating in sport
90100 2018-04-26 00:00:00Z Sport

The 3 types of cheating in sport

by Paul Thomas

When it comes to cheating, there are the rules – and then there are the alternative rules.

Read more
Win a double pass to An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Auckland
90019 2018-04-26 00:00:00Z Win

Win a double pass to An Evening with Hillary Rodha…

by Noted

An illuminating insight into Secretary Clinton's experience as a woman in politics, you could be seeing her live at Auckland's Spark Arena on May 7.

Read more