The Barking Gull swings open its doors in May

— The Barking Gull becomes the baking gull in May after a state-of-the-art wood-fired pizza oven is installed.

For the better part of a decade, the Barking Gull, at 116 S. Willow St., has operated exclusively as a venue for private parties, but it will finally open to the public this spring, said John Gormel, Liverpool’s most prominent tavernkeeper – the man with the mile-wide smile. The Gull will specialize in gourmet pizza, he added.

John and his family own The Retreat, the Cobblestone, the Barking Gull and the Dips & Dogs ice-cream stand, all right here in the village.

Wood-fired pizza will certainly be a welcome addition to Liverpool’s ever-expanding dining options. Hey, we’ve got hot dogs, hamburgers, Southern barbecue, Mexican, Italian and Thai. Now bring on those perfect pizza pies!

What’s so special about wood-fired pizza?

The cooking surface of the oven hovers between 500 and 600 degrees, but the upper chamber can top 900 degrees. The heat produced is extremely dry and it swiftly seals in flavors and juices. The dense, hardwood creates intense heat while imparting a fruity aroma to the pies.

While the pizza will please the palate, the sight of chefs vigorously hand-tossing the dough will dazzle the eye. Mangia!

Meanwhile, The Retreat revamped its menu last month, and customers are raving about some of the new dishes cooked up by chefs Robbie Gallagher and Todd O’Hara. These guys are real epicurean artistes!

Appetizers like deep-fried shrimp bangers and sandwiches such as a New Orleans pastrami melt can now be accompanied by sweet potato fries with maple syrup. Ambrosia!

Some favorite new entrees include baked chicken Sicily served in a cream-based sauce with roasted garlic and sweet red peppers. Salmon Santa Barbara comes garnished with a tangy pineapple chutney, and the haddock fromage risotto tempts me to pass up the always mouth-watering beer-battered haddock which remains on the menu, I’m happy to report.

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