BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
Great, wood-fired pizza has been a long, long time coming to Bloomington. Thanks to Adam and Alicia Sweet, it’s here at last.
King Dough, on the north side of Bloomington’s downtown Square, opened last September, bringing what had been a mobile pizza-oven business to brick-and- mortar permanence. The Sweets turn out what artisan pizza lovers have been waiting for: smoky, fire-blistered, chewy crust; savory red sauce; hand-rolled mozzarella; and creative toppings. They make a mean gelato, too. The wait has been worth it.
The Sweets are young (Alicia is 31; Adam is 30.) and their story is short and, well, sweet. They met while working at Rockit’s Famous Pizza in Bloomington in 2004, having just arrived from Daytona Beach, Florida, (Alicia) and Jacksonville, Arkansas, (Adam). When Alicia became pregnant with the first of their two children, they moved to Adam’s home state of Arkansas. While there, Adam worked in a bakery and had a second job that taught him charcuterie production. Eventually the couple entered into a partnership at a place called ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Co. that served wood-fired pizza, salads, and gelato. When Adam got bored, itching to make more cured meats, they came back to Bloomington for a visit, saw old friends opening their own businesses, and decided to do the same.
Adam Sweet is the kind of guy you want making your pizza. He can’t tell you how he comes up with his topping combinations. “I just kind of wing it, essentially,” he says, even as an eavesdropping employee leans into our booth and says, “The truth is, Adam’s got a great palate.” And he does. The menu has some standard, but excellent, combinations. For instance, the Pork and Pine pizza combines prosciutto and pineapple; the pesto is fresh and summery; and the red sauce is excellent with everything. But other pizzas resonate on a special level. The Grape and Gorgonzola has the funkiness of the Italian blue-veined cheese with the unexpected pop of the odd grape, and an underlying sweetness of honey that pulls it all together. It’s superb. Adam figures if it makes sense on pasta or a cheese board, it should make sense on a pizza, and so far he’s been spot on.
Brunch pizzas will be served beginning this spring. Lox pizza, with all the onion/caper/tomato fixings you’d expect. Bacon and egg pizza. And waffles. Right now the kitchen is only limited by the lack of a stove and hood. As soon as they can afford the equipment, Adam and Alicia want to start creating nightly Italian entrée specials, more charcuterie, and pasta.
Right now the King Dough menu is filled out with olive and bruschetta appetizers, cheese boards, fresh salads, and divine gelato, Alicia’s specialty. Her idea is to contain a whole dessert in a gelato cup — apple pie with bits of crust, banana cream pie with crumbled vanilla wafers, coffee and doughnuts, and s’mores complete with graham crackers. Others that appear on the ever-changing menu include a gingery citrus flavor and chocolate with dried tart cherries. There’s even talk of fig mascarpone and a strawberry balsamic flavor.
A sweet finish to a pretty sweet meal.