To get great ratings for your business on Yelp is always a good thing. To get so many great reviews that your restaurant is named the No. 1 new restaurant in the state for 2017 is even better - just ask Sam and Hilary Nunnery, owners of Foley’s The Forge Pizzeria.
Yelp compiled data from all of the restaurants added to its site in 2017 and found the highest ranked new restaurants in each state, and The Forge Pizzeria was Alabama’s entry.
Both Sam and Hilary say they were completely surprised by the honor.
“It still really doesn’t feel real. I feel like if we start talking about it, somebody is going to say just kidding and take it away,” Hilary joked.
The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with an enviable 5-star average rating.
“The crust is thinner and crispy, the pizza has a perfect oven-baked flavor, and the ingredients are obviously fresh. This meal is pricier than a chain or takeout pizza place, but the fresh taste is worth it. The dining area was very clean, and the staff was friendly. Before the rush, Chef Sam even spoke with us as he cooked our pizzas. So, if you're reading this review, make The Forge your choice: tasty pizza, friendly staff, local owner,” Yelp user Dana S. wrote.
“Came during a soft opening week so my expectations were not that high. However since it was National Pizza Day I thought we would give them a try. Wow! Blown away. Everything is made from scratch and/or fresh. The sauces were fantastic. Fresh mozzarella, seasoned mushrooms I was actually shocked at how good it all was,” user Stella H. wrote.
The Forge Pizzeria, located on County Road 20 across from OWA, focuses on a few key menu items centered around pizza - a focus Sam says is the key to the restaurant’s consistently good food.
“We keep it simple,” Sam said. “A lot of people wonder why we don’t do sandwiches or pasta, but we want to be able to focus on doing what we do and doing it the best we can. We’re a pizzeria - we want to be known for having amazing pizza.”
At the heart of the kitchen is the massive brick oven, which is imported from Italy, weighs 4,000 pounds and took six weeks to be shipped to Foley. Sam designed the outside brick facing himself.
“It’s the very traditional oven, so you’re cooking with the heat of the stone,” Sam said. “It’s a very authentic way of doing it.”
Fresh and house made ingredients are also a key - the dough and sauces are handmade on site daily and staples like fresh mozzarella cheese are always on hand.
The pair weren’t even initially aware they had been given the honor of highest rated new restaurant, as they found out when a new customer came in and told them.
“They said ‘This is why I’m here, so it better be good,’” Hilary said.
The ranking was featured on Buzzfeed and made the Food Network’s Snapchat story, which the Nunnerys say has brought even more new customers in already.
“It’s brought us a lot of new people in here, which makes you feel good,” Sam said. “It’s nice to do something at what you feel is a high standard and have people understand and appreciate what you do. We’re blessed to have a really loyal customer base and it’s continued to grow as we’ve gone on. It’s just like a big family.”
The Nunnerys are incredibly grateful to their customers and their staff for the honor.
“We’re just so thankful for the support of our community here and our customers,” Hilary said. “And the same goes to all of our employees, here, too. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Both Sam and Hilary say they’ll try to keep up the high standards that brought them this unexpected honor.
“It’s a lot of pressure going into 2018, but we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing - making great pizzas and giving great service,” Sam said.