We went to the @PizzaHacker in #SanFrancisco yesterday, because we had heard such great things. As an avid pizza-trend follower, I had heard about Jeff Krupman slinging out really high quality pies to people outside of dive bars in his modified Weber grill a few years ago. Apparently he did so well, he now has his own restaurant (with a proper pizza oven to boot), which I was really excited to try.
In case you do not know, one of the best tests of a pizzaiolo (the fancy name for a professional pizza maker) is their most basic pie, the Margherita. You want to test all the small things in that pizza to see if they are done properly. Is the dough at the right level of hydration? Is the bottom of the crust properly charred? Does the cornicione (the outside crust) have enough rise? Does the sauce just have a hint of sweetness without being cloying? The questions go on, but the point is something that is seemingly very simple is actually more involved than you might think.
So the ultimate question: Does the pizza hacker live up to expectations? Well my friends, I can say the answer is a resounding YES!
Great char, creamy cheese, fresh basil, and solid leopard spotting on the crust.
One of the great things they had at this place sitting next to their red chili flakes was what seemed to me like a Sambal olive tapenade. I had never had anything like this before:
The taste was mildly hot, a little fruity, slightly smoky, pretty salty and oily, and with the texture of finely chopped olives. I asked the waiter what we were eating.
“Calabrian peppers,” he said. “No, what is making it salty? Surely there are olives in there?” He insisted further “Nope, we just grind up Calabrian peppers.” Suspicious, I decided to do some research on these magical peppers, and it turned out he was right. These peppers have all of these flavors! If you like olives or complex flavors, or if you generally shy away from chili peppers thinking they are too hot, this might be a great thing to try.
To round out the evening, my co-founder tried one of the more complex pizzas called “Purple Rain” (great for any Prince fans out there) with balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and Cherokee purple tomatoes.
He was equally impressed with their ability to make a solid pizza with toppings as they were making a simpler pizza.
It was great seeing startups in the area like us, even in non-technical areas. This is proof that doing something really well is all you need to succeed.