MANCHESTER, NH – When Beau Gamache prepared his first pizza a full decade ago, he had no idea that it would one day turn into a business. From that first attempt, he became focused on producing the best product possible. The final result of all that time and effort is Ray Street Pizza, a brand new spot located in the downtown Manchester millyard.
“In 2011, my then-girlfriend, now-wife, spent a semester in Italy. She came back and talked all about authentic Neapolitan pizza,” said Gamache. “I didn’t have any experience making pizza before, so I thought I’d just try to recreate it as a gesture.”
Gamache continued to improve his pizza-making abilities, and little while later, created ThePizzaGram, an Instagram page where he documented his work. Inspired by the success of the page and his skills in the kitchen, he decided to branch out into the world of pop-ups.
After a couple wildly successful pop-up events in February 2020, Gamache spent the next several months assembling a mobile facility as a way to sell his pizza in breweries and at events.
Toward the end of the year, he found a space in the Manchester Millyard that was available for lease.
“I was looking for either a restaurant that was for sale or any space where I could do a ghost kitchen type of situation. I found the Bayona Cafe and I reached out to the owner … their business model wasn’t working anymore and they weren’t going to reopen.”
Out of that space, Ray Street will offer pick-up and delivery of their New York-style, ultra-thin crust pizza. Few foods have more regional variations, but when devising a recipe for a classic cheese pizza, Gamache was focused on what he likes and what most New Englanders associate with.
“I had an idea of what I personally thought a pizza should taste and look like. I just messed around with the cheese blend, sauce recipe and dough recipe for several years.”
The core components of Gamache’s pizza include a soft, pliable dough stretched to maximum thinness, an uncooked tomato sauce and a unique cheese blend.
Equally as important as the ingredients is the oven. At Ray Street, all pizzas emerge from an Ooni deck oven, which is considered the gold standard of commercial pizza ovens because they allow the pizzaiolo to cook over an open flame.
“With the flame, I once got [the oven] to over 1,000 degrees, which is obviously too hot to cook a pizza. I like the inside of the oven to be at least 700 degrees; usually closer to 800. As long as I can get the base, which is a big stone, at around 600-650, the bottom cooks quickly and the top cooks nicely without burning.”
Gamache offers a carefully selected list of specialty pizzas. Classics like the Margherita Moderna with Sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil and the Sausage-Ricotta with sweet Italian sausage are accessible, but more experimental options are also on offer.
Perhaps the most unique is the “Pizza Fantasia.” This flavor bomb features a garlic oil base with cheddar, goat cheese, caramelized onions, a generous serving of prosciutto, dates, and drizzles of balsamic vinegar and honey.
“It’s kind of got the sweet and savory thing going on and people really, really like it.”
Gamache is nearly ready to open for pickup and delivery, but he wants to eventually reimagine the space as a full-service restaurant, with a concise, intimate, pizza-focused menu and full bar. He also aspires to source from local purveyors and farms.
“When possible, I’d like to get as many ingredients farm-to-table as possible. [I also want] a big, heavy focus on local beer and wine.”
Gamache aims to open for pick-up and delivery by the first week of March. He’s come a long way from that first pizza he made for his girlfriend ten years ago, and after countless hours in the kitchen, he’s now ready to share his pies with the city.