When I think of pizza, I usually picture a traditional Neapolitan, an authentic Italian entrée made with tomato and fresh mozzarella. However, third-generation pizza maker Jonathan “Jon” Mora challenged everything I thought I knew about what can and can’t go on pies. This causal hole-in-the-wall pizzeria is where Mora is constantly creating new pizza dishes with unique ingredients. If you’re in the mood to try something new, check out Mora NY Pizza, at 1220 W. University Ave.
Mora, who has been crafting vegan and non-vegan pizzas for 14 years, describes his restaurant as an “edgy New York-style pizzeria that thinks outside the pizza box, providing an imaginative dining experience that connects local creatives.”
Mora learned his special dough-making recipe from his grandfather, who at one point owned 40 pizzerias in the northeastern region of New York. This crisp, chewy yet thin crust can make pizza lovers, like myself, question why pizza crust is so underrated. Currently, Mora Pizza serves homemade vegan and non-vegan pizzas, calzones, strombolis, salads and pasta dishes (a recent addition).
The menu is constantly changing, since all products are made from scratch, and top-quality ingredients are brought in from local vendors or distributors.
“I take the same approach as a painter, the dough is my canvas,” Mora said. “I incorporate textures, colors, different cultures, and I don’t have like a weekly menu of each item. It’s just whatever inspires me that morning when I wake up.”
The vegan pizza options are a huge hit. Among them, the “Buffalo,” “Baked Ziti” and “Ben’s Burger” are the most popular options with customers. Personally, I’m a veggie fanatic and always go for the “Veg’d Out,” a light vegan pizza containing spinach, mushroom, onion, tomato and my guilty pleasure: olives.
Mora Pizza opened May 5, and ever since, business is skyrocketing. The Gainesville community has exhibited unwavering support, according to Mora.
Busy nights can be hectic, especially since Mora and his operations manager are the only ones that actually produce the pizzas, so the wait time varies depending on the crowd. However, most customers are happy to wait for Mora’s one-of-a-kind pizza.
“I was a little backed up one night, only working with one pizza oven I had, and I was worried about this customer because I thought maybe she would be mad,” Mora said. “After I finished making her food, I brought it to her and apologized. I said sorry for the wait and she just got so emotional, there was such an emotional response she actually started to cry and she said she has been waiting her whole life for a vegan pizza like this. And to me that was very satisfying.”
Mora is vegan himself and intentionally hires only a vegan staff for his restaurant because he wants to emphasize the importance of care that goes into his products.
Mora added that there are plans to expand with another location where he will be serving pizza by the slice off University Avenue and Main Street. Also, he wants to open another food truck in Gainesville to work with local breweries, upcoming events and farmers’ markets.
Before moving to Gainesville, Mora operated a food truck business in Fort Myers, Florida, for two years.He said he is used to connecting and networking events with his food truck and wants to incorporate that with Mora Pizza.
Mora is currently looking for local artists that want to showcase their artwork at his restaurant.
“I’m very open to anyone who wants to submit their art. It doesn’t necessarily have to be pizza-related but I do appreciate the creativity of the artists’ work they are providing,” Mora said.
Daily specials can be found on Mora Pizza’s Instagram page @mora_pizza.