Oakley's Place adds wood-fired pizza
By Brian Sweeney
Wood-fired pizza is the latest innovation at Oakley’s Place on Route 28, Arkville.
Owners Corine and Gerard DeBari purchased the business from John McDaniel nearly seven years ago and have been slowly shifting the focus of the business from that of a bar to more of a restaurant.
The DeBaris both enjoy the unique flavor of wood-fired pizza and since no one else in the immediate area was offering this type of food preparation, they decided to add wood-fired pizza to their menu options.
“We wanted to do something different — to start offering more food — so we began researching these ovens on the Internet,” Gerard explained.
Renovations for the project began last spring with an 11-foot by 19-foot addition, plus a bump-out to accommodate the back of the oven. The stones for the massive oven were hand-pieced by Margaretville mason Dean Hunter.
The oven was ready to go in June and has been a big hit with customers. With a cooking temperature of 700 degrees, pizzas are done in about five minutes. Fans of wood-fired pizza love the distinctive flavor.
“We’re doing very well with it,” Gerard commented. “Every night we have more families coming in; we are definitely turning into more of a restaurant.”
Specialty pizzas and more
As the popularity of wood-fired pizza has caught on, Oakley’s has added to its offerings. There are now seven specialty pizzas and the choice of 20 toppings, including all the standards plus innovative options such as grilled chicken, eggplant and sun-dried tomatoes. Calzones are also baked in the wood-fired oven.
Oakley’s continues to provide its regular menu, as well, including staples such as burgers, fish and chips, chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. However, it’s been the addition of wood-fired pizza that has helped the business take a giant step into the restaurant direction.
The success of the pizza venture has Gerard and Corine inspired to further expand their dining options. They are considering adding a barbecue pit and possibly another addition to increase the 25 dining seats currently available.
The new pizza oven is the latest in a series of improvements made at Oakley’s (which has a long history, including stints as the Davis Inn, Frankie’s and McDaniel’s). Over the years, the DeBaris have added new siding, revamped much of the interior and built a popular deck out front.
The business is open seven days a week and Gerard and Corine are assisted by five employees. The owners spend many evening hours at Oakley’s, despite the fact that they both work full time at the family’s longtime business, DeBari’s Floor Coverings.
Despite the busy task of running two operations, Gerard and Corine are excited about the growth of Oakley’s Place and its evolution into an eating establishment and they look forward to continuing this trend.