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Pizza Riot: Tucson's Zio Peppe restaurant has an all-female crew tossing its pies
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Pizza Riot: Tucson's Zio Peppe restaurant has an all-female crew tossing its pies

The Umami Tsunami ($16) is one of the more unique specialty pizzas on Zio Peppe's menu. The Italian-inspired restaurant, which opened in early May, has an all-female pizza-making crew that calls itself Pizza Riot.

Just moments after it had opened for lunch on Friday, July 16, Zio Peppe's pizzaiola Koda — they go by one name — faced down a stack of pizza orders. 

Koda is one of four women who make pizzas for the east-side restaurant that partners and longtime friends Devon Sanner and Mat Cable opened in early May at 6502 E. Tanque Verde Road.

Sanner said he's not positive, but he surely has never heard of a pizzeria staffed with an all-woman pizza-making staff.

Koda said the crew calls itself Pizza Riot, a name that seems to fit as you watch Koda take a ball of dough from a large bin, flour it on both sides and knead it before tossing it in the air. 

There's a shield partly hiding the pizza operation from the dining room, but on that afternoon, you could see the dough fly from Koda's hands into the air. After one toss, she caught the dough and spread it out on a wood counter where they keep all the toppings in refrigerated trays. 

On the house favorite Margherita, she topped a bed of red sauce made from Stanislaus tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and large sweet basil leaves.

The second pie was the Umami Tsunami, which Koda topped with shredded mozzarella before adding soy pickled shiitake mushrooms, fermented black garlic, slightly spicy goat horn peppers, shallot cream and finely shredded Parmigiano.

Koda used a wooden paddle to slide the pies into the gas-powered, wood-burning oven. Within minutes, they emerged golden brown and bubbly.

Zio Peppe is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at On Twitter @Starburch

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