The words bleach, bromates, hormones, antibiotics and dyes don’t sound like they have much to do with food, yet they’re all to be found in most pizza — along with trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. The Daily Beast recently ranked the 30 deadliest pizzas — Domino’s came out the “winner” — but you can make any of the big-chain slices into a fatty, high-calorie, sodium-laden carb-fest if you choose the right toppings.
Still, life would hardly be bearable without pizza, right? If you’ve been trying to cut down on bleach and bromates, you can still have a cheesy, tasty slice at Pizza Barn in Accord, where Tanya and Michael Kefer, the health-conscious couple who run the joint, are turning out pies made fresh every day with organic, whole-grain, crispy crusts topped with all-natural ingredients. As they like to say: Nothing they use will take the paint off your Chevy.
Michael’s parents have been in the pizza biz for years, and dispensed traditional pies in Ulster County during the late ’80s and early ’90s. But by the time Michael opened his own spot in the barn near Accord in late 2009, he was married to Tanya, a personal trainer and acupuncturist with a doctorate in exercise physiology and gerontology. Did she have anything to do with the decision to go organic? “You bet!” she replies. “He was initially hard to persuade. But once he made the switch he was unstoppable.”
The rustic-looking barn was actually built in 2004 to house a short-lived BBQ place. The Kefers added pizza equipment in the kitchen, a granite countertop and new tables, but the slate floor and wall of windows overlooking the Rondout Creek remain. View of the creek — that’s lovely, you may be saying. But what about the pizzas? Well, there are 20 white, sauce-less choices ranging from tomato-basil to the best-selling BBQ chicken with bacon. My friend Anitra, whose life is devoted about equally to being a Buddhist, a health nut and a hedonist (and is living proof that it can be done) is crazy about the Gorgonzola, which demonstrates a kind of deliciously healthy hedonism of its own, sprinkled as it is with bits of tomato, green pepper, dried cranberries and caramelized walnuts. Tanya says the Roasted Goat is the most popular white slice — it’s a yummy mélange of roasted red peppers, mushrooms and artichoke hearts topped with crumbled goat cheese. Eighteen red-sauce slices come with various vegetable toppings as well as hearty add-ons like ground beef, chicken, and pepperoni. Organic pepperoni? “Not organic, but all natural,” says Tanya. “It’s made with grass-fed beef, with no hormones, antibiotics or nitrates.”
They also offer calzones and a variety of salads with gluten-free dressings. If you get carried away and eat too much, you can work it off at Tanya’s studio next to the barn, where she teaches functional exercise (and practices acupuncture, too).
The first Wednesday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. is kid’s night at Pizza Barn. Starting May 11th, the other Wednesdays will be for car shows, when vintage- and muscle car owners can nosh on healthy pizza and show off their rides.