Pizza has been at the center of Jarad Slipp and Allie Nault’s relationship from the start. The first trip they took as a couple was to New Haven, Connecticut to try the city’s famed pies. Now, their first business together, Knead Wine in Middleburg, which is having its grand opening on Thursday, Aug. 6, is also focused on cheese and crust. “Pizza brings everyone together,” says Nault.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Slipp not only trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, but also trained in Italy, where he gained the title of master Italian chef, which is “not worth the price of the paper it’s printed on,” he jokes.
Slipp worked in restaurants in DC for close to a quarter century, but fell in love with Middleburg. He says it’s nice to know that the city is an hour away, but is happy to be in the country. He was eager to give back to the community in the form he knows best: food and wine. The former estate manager at RdV Vineyards and certified master sommelier knew that a casual pizza and wine spot was just what Middleburg needed. But don’t expect him to define his style too strictly.
“People keep asking what style it is. It’s my style. Having gone to school and lived in Italy, it’s rooted in Italian tradition but it’s a culmination of everything I’ve worked on,” he says. Slipp compares his pizza to Neapolitan-style pies, but says that his is “a little more sturdy” to survive takeout.
Each iteration is named after a guitar great, from Clapton to Richards. The Trucks (named for the founder of the Derek Trucks Band) combines roasted garlic, kale, red onion, taleggio cheese and pistachio. The spicy Gibbons, inspired by ZZ Top’s guitarist Billy Gibbons, is topped with tomato sauce, bacon, piquillo peppers, Calabrian chile, garlic and pecorino cheese.
Despite his background as a sommelier, Slipp doesn’t have suggested pairings for the pizzas. “I’m a big fan of ‘eat what you want and drink what you want,’” he says. Instead, bottles on one wall are priced at $20, and on another, they’re $45. “Wine should not be intimidating; it really should be warm and welcoming to everyone,” explains Nault. “It has a reputation for being pretentious. We want to break down the stigma and make it accessible.”
Though Knead Wine is set up to have a communal table, for now, due to the pandemic, service is takeout only. The restaurant and wine shop is open Thursday through Monday. Pizza lovers can place their orders on the website, kneadwine.com or call 540-687-5150. // 5 W. Washington St.,
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