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


Auckland waterfront stadium plans revealed
97933 2018-10-19 06:34:37Z Auckland Issues

Auckland waterfront stadium plans revealed

by Rowan Quinn

Plans for a 50,000-seat waterfront stadium in downtown Auckland that would replace Eden Park have been revealed.

Read more
The eclectic range of Kiwi composer Rhian Sheehan
97711 2018-10-19 00:00:00Z Music

The eclectic range of Kiwi composer Rhian Sheehan

by James Belfield

Rhian Sheehan is hitting the road with a collection of intimate tracks – a world removed from soundtracks for theme parks and virtual-reality games.

Read more
Anika Moa's celebrity takes the back seat on soul-baring new LP
97774 2018-10-19 00:00:00Z Music

Anika Moa's celebrity takes the back seat on soul-…

by James Belfield

Anika Moa says she only ever shares “about 5% of what and who I am”. Her new album says otherwise.

Read more
There's only one way to deal with the undignifying symptoms of chronic illnesses
97788 2018-10-19 00:00:00Z Nutrition

There's only one way to deal with the undignifying…

by Ruth Nichol

After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Shona Daubé learned how to live with chronic illness with a smile.

Read more
50 great Auckland restaurants where you can eat well for less than $50
94144 2018-10-19 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

50 great Auckland restaurants where you can eat we…

by Metro

Here are 50 Auckland restaurants to try that won't break the bank – and tips on what you should order.

Read more
Notes from Cambodia: Is the young democracy sliding back towards dictatorship?
93903 2018-10-19 00:00:00Z Travel

Notes from Cambodia: Is the young democracy slidin…

by James Borrowdale

James Borrowdale looks beneath the shiny surface of modern capitalism in Cambodia.

Read more
Jami-Lee Ross' deeply ugly practice of taping could still snare Simon Bridges
97923 2018-10-18 14:50:17Z Politics

Jami-Lee Ross' deeply ugly practice of taping coul…

by Jane Clifton

First it was: follow the money. Now it’s cherchez la femme. Wherever the Jami-Lee Ross conflagration takes us next, Ross will go down in history.

Read more
Stop the truck! Pūhā & Pākehā gets a new Grey Lynn home
97905 2018-10-18 11:55:17Z Auckland Eats

Stop the truck! Pūhā & Pākehā gets a new Grey Lynn…

by Kate Richards

Founders of popular food truck Pūhā & Pākehā have opened up an eatery in Surrey Crescent offering new interpretations of traditional Māori cuisine.

Read more