It is pretty safe to say that most people love pizza. What’s not to like? At the basic level, there's a pile of favorite toppings and cheese on top of crispy bread.
There is much debate however over styles of pizza and types of crust. The New Yorkers of the world prefer a thin, crispy but bendable crust (they like to eat pizza like a taco) that has little sauce and real mozzarella cheese. Additional toppings are added but the crust and sauce are the key players.
Although Mike and Shannon Monk aren’t from the Northeast, their pizza comes close to the New York style. Teaming up with Shannon’s brother Scott Smith they opened their dream place last fall in Winnsboro, Monk's Oven. The pizza place has hit its stride. Decorated with old church windows and equipped with an array of games, Monk's Oven is a place not just to eat, but also to hang out. Nearby guests eagerly assembled a Lincoln Logs cabin.
“We have chess, checkers, backgammon, and a 1940’s viewfinder with reels. We love for people to come in enjoy the games,” Shannon said.
The menu is fairly simple offering a few house pizzas and a build-your-own option. While there are no appetizers available yet, there are salad and soup options to get started. There is a significant price jump from a small pizza to a large with nothing in between but the small is the perfect size for one and the large is large enough that it’s worth the money. All of their dough is made from scratch and there is a gluten-free option as well.
“We pride ourselves on creativity with pizza. We also have a few secret menu items. Ask us about the Ainsworth pizza, that is named after some dear friends, or the Greek Sausage Salad,” Shannon said.
Smith is responsible for the eclectic beer selection and typically is found in front of the Zesto gas pizza oven.
“It isn’t a wood-fire oven, but it is the closest thing to it,” she said. “Scott has been very thoughtful in the beer choices. Peroni is what we like to call the Italian Corona.”
Monk's Oven encourages guests to bring their own wine. Their “take and carry” alcohol license allows guests to purchase beer to go.
Shannon is also a Jazz singer and sings with Misdemeanor and the Groove Felons.
“Music is my thing,” she said. “Our long term plans include using the back as a listening room for events and live music.”
Monk's Oven is located at 204 Market St. in Winnsboro. They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m to 9 p.m. with extended hours to come this summer. As if anyone needed another reason to try this gem, kids eat free Tuesday through Thursday (one per adult) and senior citizens get a 10 percent discount. Call 903.347.1282 or visit Monk's Oven on facebook.com.