Share, enhance and teach. These are three things that Alex Mchaikhi, owner and operator of M Wood Fired Oven, says help people and take them to the next level.

“We lead by example,” says Mchaikhi.

In 2012, Mchaikhi opened M in Hyde Park to offer Cincinnatians a place for friends and family to gather and enjoy fantastic food.

With both indoor and outdoor seating, weather permitting, M has a cozy Mediterranean feel. Brick and wood walls surround the restaurant and a variety of lanterns hang from the ceiling and line the bar at M.

“The lanterns were inspired by my father’s job working in a phosphate mine in Tunisia,” adds Mchaikhi.

Everything on the menu is made with fresh ingredients, as Mchaikhi shies away from processed and canned food in favor of natural flavors.

“Fresh is fresh. I wouldn’t serve something I wouldn’t eat,” he says.

Mchaikhi’s entrance in the food and service industry began in Tunisia. “I lived in a tourist area and loved people,” he says.

He held positions in luxury hotels in Tunisia and Lake Como, Italy; moved for positions in New York, Boston, and Dayton; and accepted a position in Cincinnati as director of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Then Mchaikhi decided to purchase an area restaurant.

After buying Cumin in 2006, in 2014, Mchaikhi did some research and decided that it was the right time to open another restaurant with pizza as the main component.

Not just any pizza though, but the kind of pizza he recalled from his time in Lake Como, Italy.

In M’s open kitchen resides a floor-to-ceiling oven made of stones imported from France. This is where the Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas are baked to perfection, since the stones keep the heat in.

“The oven is still 600 degrees from last night,” he says, touching the bricks. “The crust gets a nice crisp to it.”

Waiting tables are served piping hot pizzas like the Fungo—a mushroom, red onion, blue cheese, truffle and pinenut pizza—and the Fig & Pig—a fig, bacon, garlic confit, arugula and balsamic glaze pizza.

If pizza isn’t your thing, don’t worry. M also serves salads, soups and other entrée dishes.

“What people want depends on the mood, depends on the day. People here know what they want,” he says, proud to call Cincinnati home for 18 years.

“The community has supported me through the years and many have become friends,” he says.

3514 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. 315-386-7783, m-woodfiredoven.com. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Th, 5 p.m.-12 a.m. F and Sat., Brunch served 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sundays.