From the gristmill to the Windmill Pizzeria and Sourdough Company comes an all-natural approach to making pizza with a homemade sourdough crust and fresh, frequently local toppings.
The new restaurant is set to open March 1 in the Railway Mall at 207 Water St. in Sauk City and is the culmination of a plan that’s been rising in the imaginations of Gorman Hayes and Brian McGuire. The space formerly held the Riverway Café.
Both men are young, trained chefs that didn’t give up on a dream to have their own restaurant.
For them, pizza is all about the ingredients.
“Everything is as organic and naturally processed as possible,” McGuire said.
All vegetables are fresh. They make their sourdough crust from scratch, the tomato sauce is made from organically grown tomatoes, the meat is fresh from Black Earth Meats, the mozzarella is handmade every day.
“It’s super fresh, super soft mozzarella,” Hayes said. “It’s real creamy from the whole milk.”
The duo even makes its own sausage varieties including sweet Italian, smoked sweet Italian, calabrese, doppio finocchio and black truffle, a fungus harvested from oak and hazelnut trees.
Their signature pizza, The Great White Buffalo, is a “white” pizza, or a pizza without red sauce.
“It’s a little Hunter S. Thompson reference,” Hayes said.
It’s made with mozzarella cultured from the rich milk of water buffalo, parmesan, sweet basil, olive oil and sea salt.
The menu also has three submarine sandwiches including a veggie parmesan, meatball marinara and a classic Italian beef, all served on a sourdough semolina bread.
Hayes, 31, was trained as a chef at Paul Smith’s College in New York where he made gourmet pizzas over a wood fire. He met McGuire, 22, about 11 years ago while the two worked at the Brasserie V in Madison.
Since then, they say they’ve spent most of their time together.
The two helped revamp Otto’s Supper Club in Portage last summer and will work to make their new Sauk City location in the Railway Mall their own, as the space has held a number of restaurants recently, including the former Pizza Plaza.
Hayes originally is from Hayward in northern Wisconsin, while McGuire grew up in the Beloit area.
“I’ve been working in kitchens slaving away,” McGuire said. “Gorman was my sous chef at my most inspirational job at the Brasserie V where I got a concept and a feeling that there are good products out there and this is what you should be using.”
McGuire, who recently moved to Merrimac, and Hayes have visited the Sauk Prairie area many times.
“I’m from Beloit so coming up to Sauk City was like going up north to me,” McGuire said. “Here we are on the river with all the sand bars. It’s kind of surreal to be here now.”
It was the local area and its farming culture that spawned the name for the Windmill Pizzeria and Sourdough Company.
“The windmill is kind of symbolic of the American hard working man,” Hayes said. “There are so many awesome windmills around town here. Driving up from Madison we saw that. They supplied all the wheat farmers and drove the farming industry.”
It was only about a month ago Hayes spotted the available space where the Riverway Café had been.
“I saw this place was for rent and I was driving by and thought, I’m going to call,” Hayes said. “I walked in and I envisioned instantly that we should have a pizzeria here.”
Starting March 1 at 11 a.m., customers can walk in, view the menu, and order at the counter.
All pizzas are served by their creators in the kitchen. Hayes and McGuire are not only the chefs, but the servers as well.
“These are ideas we’ve had in our head forever,” McGuire said. “That is the fantasy of a chef. If you’re working for someone else, you think we should be doing this ourselves. We knew what we wanted to do.”
Hayes and his wife Mila, originally from Peru, met while working together in a restaurant in New York. They have two children with one on the way.
Mila handles many of the business-related duties.
“She’s the backbone of our business,” McGuire said.