Don’t turn your back. That’s the advice from Mark Nelson. But he’s not talking about a shifty-eyed passer-by. No, he’s referring to the behemoth wood-fired oven that takes up a large portion of the space inside Full Moon Pizza Company, the restaurant he and Nathan Knickerbocker own and run.
With an operating temperature than runs anywhere from 600 to 900 degrees, he says you need to keep an eye on what’s happening inside its 21 square feet of surface area.
“Nate slept in front of it the night it was installed,” he said, as the oven had to be cured to remove all the moisture before it could be used.
How big is it? The duo had to get the building reinforced before it could be installed.
While the oven may be the biggest thing in the restaurant, it’s what Nelson and Knickerbocker do with it that puts Full Moon on the map.
From the pizzas to the wings to the marinated mushrooms on the spinach salad, they do it all in the oven. “We do everything in it,” said Knickerbocker. “You have to learn the zones.”
Of course, the menu includes staples like pepperoni and veggie pies. But it also includes such specialty pizzas as pesto chicken, with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. The potato-leek pizza features roasted redskins, caramelized leeks, bacon, and peppercorn Parmesan ranch, while the vegetable pizza includes the wood-roasted mushrooms, leeks and garlic, topped with mascarpone cheese to give it a sweet finish. Then there’s the Pork Belly BLT, bruschetta, wings, even a Neopolitan-style ice cream with chocolate ganache and yellow cake.
The duo are veterans of the restaurant scene, both here and elsewhere in the state. They were among the crew to open the Soul Hole on Union Street, and after leaving there decided to partner in another venture.
“Nate had a background in wood-fired pizzas from working in Grand Rapids,” said Nelson.
The two found a building on Eighth Street in TC, next to Potter’s and across from Family Fare. It had served as a beauty salon for many years, but they thought it would be a good location for their pizzeria.
“We looked downtown, but we knew we wanted to focus on delivery,” said Nelson. The location is close to downtown but gives their drivers the ability to easily get in and out, Nelson said.
With a free delivery area stretching east to Acme to past Cherry Bend Road west, Full Moon can offer sustenance to hungry patrons across the area.
And those patrons can even include those with a gluten intolerance.
“We have a gluten-free crust and tools that are kept separate from the others so there’s no crosscontamination,” said Nelson.
The duo also takes pride in the freshness of their ingredients.
“We have four things that come in a can:
Red pepper, pineapple, artichoke hearts and tomatoes for the sauce,” said Nelson.
“The sausage comes in a 30-foot rope. Everything’s fresh. It’s good stuff,” said Knickerbocker.
The dough is thin and crispy, with just a hint of smokiness from the oven. “We make it as often as we need to” meaning it too is fresh, said Knickerbocker.
The Full Moon Pizza Co. is located at 910 E. Eighth St. Phone: 421-9404. Online, go to FullMoonPizzaCoTraverseCity.com or visit its Facebook page
Hours: Monday-Thursday noon-10 p.m . Friday-Saturday: noon-11 p.m. Closed Sunday
Pizzas start at $11, salads at $7, sandwiches at $8