A Key Largo restaurant and bar at MM 99.2, oceanside, is bringing the fire and fun with its one-of-a-kind Neapolitan wood-burning stove, some fine wines and a rustic, industrial feel inside for its patrons.
C&C Wood Fire Eats owners Mike and Jill Atwell recall their soft opening on July 4, 2016. At the time, they served a large variety of wines, meats and cheeses. The experience was a wine tasting one, with wine racks all around.
The concept morphed, however, from inspirations gathered from a trip Mike and Jill took to Italy during Hurricane Irma. Today, true Neapolitan pizza with just four fresh ingredients comes out of the nearly 1,000-degree wood-burning stove. With around 100 selections of wines also come some unique, local favorites many come to enjoy.
And no, Mike and Jill say they aren’t an Italian restaurant.
“This is our fourth restaurant, our third one in the Keys and second one in Key Largo,” Mike said. “We know our clientele to a point, but we also learned over the years that you’re building something nobody’s seen or had.
“It’s not a come have dinner and talk amongst yourselves,” he continued. “It’s loud, it’s dark and it’s a fun, different vibe than people are used to.”
Mike and Jill say Hurricane Irma changed a lot of things, including damage to the building’s roof. A former Verizon store and spa, the ripping away of material yielded an interesting discovery: Dade County pine was hiding.
“It wasn’t painted or done. It had a natural look to it,” he said. “It was there the whole time and we never knew. This was built as a restaurant in the early ’50s, and we have some really cool pictures of it.”
During their trip to Italy, Mike and Jill were instantly inspired as they enjoyed the cuisine and experience.
“We started seeing it firsthand and came up with the wood-fire oven concept,” he said. “It’s something no one else does.”
“I think that if we hadn’t put in the wood fire oven last summer, I don’t think we’d still be here,” Jill said. “We wouldn’t have survived through COVID.”
Pizza dough and sauce is made daily with classic fresh toppings and some unique ones to choose from. Patrons who step inside C & C instantly see the only wood-fire pizza oven in town. There’s no gas and no electricity involved; just oak wood and a blazing fire.
A variety of pizzas are available, or people can create their own. And yes, they have options for vegans like the vegan mozzarella cheese.
“We make about 100 to 110 a day on average,” Mike said. “It’s just really simple. It’s done really clean and traditional. If you go to Italy and any Tuscan village, they treat you like family. It’s the basics. It’s just really great comfort food and it’s done with our little flare.”
C & C also does what they call pepperoni chips. Mike says they slice their own pepperoni and cook them on a pizza pan to dehydrate. “It’s like a potato chip, but it’s keto friendly,” he said.
Other house eats include wood fire wings, brie fondue that’s bubbly warm with bread and fig, and artichoke casserole. As for pizza, patrons can get the meatball and ricotta, barbecue chicken, prosciutto and blue or a regular pepperoni, to name a few. Cheese boards and salads are also available.
For dessert, patrons won’t go wrong with a Key lime custard parfait made with brown butter crumble and custard or the warm and decadent double dark chocolate pistachio brownie.
C&C is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Happy hour goes daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with $4 wine glasses and a pitcher of beer and pizza for $10. More information at candcwoodfiredeats.com.