What do you do with a cavernous space inside a former clock factory? Using it to make pizzas and serve beer seems to be working well.
Fire on Fifth Pizzeria and Beer Hall, located inside the Westclox Building, is accessible through the main entrance facing Fifth Street (U.S. 6) in Peru, hence its name. The sprawling interior holds a restaurant with wood-fired ovens that specialize in pizza, as well as a beer hall for sipping from a unique self-service station.
The Mystery Diner came to eat, not imbibe, so the carbohydrates under the microscope here are from the kitchen, not the beer hall. Our meal was two pizzas plus an appetizer. A highlight of the experience was crack service – our server was friendly and attentive, and refilled our soda glasses ($3 unlimited refills) before they were near-empty.
Pizzas range from $10 to $16, with a choice of crust: hand-tossed, gluten-free and cauliflower. Being wood-fired, the crust has the customary telltale char. The menu includes 12 specialty pies plus make-your-own options with a choice of eight sauces (including Buffalo and garlic butter) and 30 toppings.
The menu warns there are no substitutions, which means you can remove toppings – hold the onions, for example – but you cannot add ingredients to the specialty pizzas.
We sampled an appetizer of oven-baked meatballs, served with toasted Italian bread to sop up the tomato sauce, the serving platter lined in wax paper made to resemble a faux newspaper. Fire on Fifth takes pride in their presentation.
For the entrees, the Mystery Diner ordered pizza Margherita, while my dining companion opted for a make-your-own that included a cauliflower crust and garlic-butter sauce topped with tomatoes and black olives.
The menu also highlights appetizers, salads, toasted sub sandwiches and desserts.
Wood-fired certainly is a fast way to cook a pizza, so our pies were on the table in a flash. We were seated and fed, and had paid up in a whirlwind 45 minutes.
The restaurant features a self-serve “pour wall” offering 30 selections. It is an innovative design: The pour wall has 10 card readers each mounted over three taps. You insert your card, pour, and then remove the card – no need to hail a server to fetch your beer for you. An interactive menu provides detailed descriptions of each beer.
Classic rock tunes added to the sound level in the former industrial setting that is not without urban chic charm. The restaurant and bar are tucked into what appears to be a former machine room or assembly station that still bears girders and brick and giant ceiling fans. Off to one side is a game area and pool table with multiple TVs for sports aficionados to catch the score.
The space is large enough to currently display an eye-catching vintage Chevrolet, without cutting into the seating or ample standing room.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Fire on Fifth Pizzeria and Beer Hall
WHERE: 300 Fifth St., Peru, inside the Westclox Building