Last week, James Goff and Tanya Chipperfield opened their new restaurant, Wolf’s Den Pizzeria, on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven.
Before this endeavor, James and Tanya had taken over Bob’s Pizza up on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. At that location, they quickly developed a big following with their fresh food, amazing pizza, and positive approach to business and service.
Well, Bob’s did not work out, but that’s ok, because with a little work, James and Tanya were able to get there own place with a great location and parking to boot.
Why the name you might wonder? There are no wolves on Martha’s Vineyard or anywhere near by. Well, the use of wolf has a couple different inspirations.
First, it is the name of James and Tanya’s baby boy, and boy, is Wolf cute. It’s also the type of guitar Jerry Garcia used to play (James is a self proclaimed “Deadhead” note image on pizza oven), and one of James’ favorite chefs happens to be Wolfgang Puck.
So, as you can see, the name was carefully selected.
Now let’s talk about what’s behind that name. Walking into Wolf’s, there’s a good vibe. The space is bright and clean, and though busy prepping for another busy day, James and an employee, Noah are having a good time together.
There’s music on the radio and fresh ingredients in gloved hands — I guess this is what cooks enjoy.
Oh, and the smell is just plain amazing in that place. They happened to be cooking their sausage for the pizza when I was there and the smell was so good, I was quite distracted.
But let’t talk about the food at Wolf’s. The menu is pretty extensive with salads, grinders, and a pizza selection that is going to knock your flip flops off.
James has been spinning dough since he was 19 years old. Over his extensive culinary career, he has worked in a lot of kitchens, and has learned how to make incredible pizza dough.
It’s a recipe he’s had for years and only he knows the special ingredient.
The dough is not thin nor is it thick. It’s medium dough, which when added to a pan — because Wolf’s makes pan pizza — becomes this magical crust that’s crunchy yet soft. It tastes even more amazing than it looks.
Being a bit of a foodie, I was a bit skeptical of the crust, but boy oh boy is it good. Add to that to the fact that I got one of their “Signature Sauce Pies” – the Thai Chicken, and I’m addicted.
The Thai Chicken has grilled chicken, a house made peanut sauce, ooey gooey cheese, and topped with fresh scallions and cilantro, which wilt perfectly from the heat of the pizza.
Thank goodness you can get a small pie (10 inch) or a large (16 inch) because I could only get in trouble with the biggie.
Now that I had Thai Chicken, I’ve already decided on the next couple of pies I’m ordering. Next will be a “Signature White Pie” – the Shrimp Scampi with shrimp, garlic, EVOO, tomatoes and feta, topped with fresh basil oil.
Then it’s on to the Big Mac, then the Islander, then the Buffalo Chicken – you get the picture. Please don’t judge. It’s just that the crust is so good.
Wolf’s has 15 pizzas to choose from and of course, you can create your own. But there’s a lot more too.
There are apps, like fresh made garlic bread or fries with their signature seasoning. There are a number of salads, check out The Den Salad when you’re there.
There are grinders and Philly’s and burgers and calzones. So much to choose from, perhaps you’ll have your own list to check off.
I think when you try Wolf’s, you’ll be able to tell that there is a serious level of commitment to the food. Things are thoughtfully prepared, and James is very passionate about what he makes.
He and Tanya are building a legacy. After traveling for years, this is where James wants to be for a long time.
Also, James and Tanya are all about using really good and fresh ingredients. In addition, a lot of their ingredients are house made, like the dressings for their salads, the buffalo sauce for their wings and pizza and much more. I can’t even imagine how good some of them are.
There’s also dessert — like Tanya’s signature chocolate cookies which are so good. When I was there, you could also grab apple cobbler.
I did actually get a cookie but it was so yummy I ate it before I got a good picture of it. For all you dessert fans, soon her famous tiramisu will also be available.
James and Tanya want their place to become a favorite of Islanders year round. Though it’s about to get crazy for them with summer coming, the summer for them is the gravy. The year round community is the backbone of the business.
Wolf’s is a takeout restaurant. Sadly there is no seating inside but there are a couple of picnic tables outside where you can wait for food or enjoy your feast.
Wolf’s Den Pizzeria is currently open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., though those hours may expand during the Summer. Also, look for a lot of new menu items, like a lobster pizza and fish and chips.
Chances are you might become a member of the Wolf pack too.
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