Biscuits and pizza share more in common that you might think. Both are doughy creations that act as a sturdy base for creative toppings, both have accumulated substantial cult followings, and as of July 1, both will be made by Nashville’s Karl Worley. The owner and chef of Biscuit Love, the acclaimed Music City breakfast joint that began luring hungry masses to the Gulch in 2015, will open his new restaurant, ‘za, this summer to serve wood-fired personal pizzas—“We’re not even running a gas line to the building,” Worley says.
Two doors down from Biscuit Love’s second location in Hillsboro Village, the new fast-casual joint will be bedecked in subway tiles, maple furnishings, and pizza tones: think red, white, and charcoal. The food itself takes inspiration from a 2018 trip Worley and his wife, Sarah, took to Tuscany, where they lingered over lunches—and one five-hour pizza dinner that involved three bottles of wine and sixteen types of pizza. “The main thing I love about Biscuit Love is that it gets people around the table,” Worley says. “Pizza, we realized, is the Italian version of that.” He built a pizza oven in his backyard and started experimenting.
Despite their international roots, Worley’s pizzas will feel right at home in Tennessee. “We’re calling it ‘Southern’ Italian, and a lot of the menu will play off things we grew up with,” he says. “For instance, my mother would make these skillet potatoes when I was a kid, so we’re doing a white pie with mozzarella and oven-roasted potatoes.” That creation will be one of the many offerings on the half red and half white-sauced pizza menu, along with salads and local beer and wine. “There’s also a sleeper pizza,” Worley says. “Gertrude, our eight-year-old daughter, wanted to do an Italian sausage with mint. We were skeptical, but we made one, and it was everyone’s favorite.”
Worley’s Southern focus includes ingredients, too. Currently, Bear Creek Farm in nearby Franklin provides the sausage for Biscuit Love’s sausage gravy; Worley plans to source the sausage and pepperoni for his pizzas from them. “I’m driving to Kentucky this week to meet with a farmer growing fresh rye,” he adds. “We really want to make that into part of the dough: a true Southern sourdough.” For Worley, the community he’s striving to bring to the table includes not just the patrons who he hopes will flock to Belcourt Avenue for biscuits and pizza, but the people who worked to bring that food to his kitchen. “Working together [with farmers and purveyors] to help the area,” he says. “To me, that’s the best part of this business.”