Chris Getchell is widely acknowledged as the founder, creator, mastermind at Descendant in Toronto. It’s in Leslieville, on Queen East, and it’s among the best Detroit style pizzas anywhere. Steve was back in Toronto a few weeks ago, and so when he set up the interview, expecting to meet Chris, he instead met Ike Tzakis, another partner and pizzamaker there. Ike’s going to break some news on today’s show, so if you’re at all interested in the Toronto pizza scene, listen carefully.
Justin Haines missed his beloved Lou Malnati’s so much when he moved to Amsterdam, that he quit his job in logistics to open his own place. Determined to recreate the buttery crusts of his childhood, he sought out an Italian chef, took him to Chicago to eat a ton, then returned to Amsterdam to open The Ugly Duck to attempt to serve Europeans his favorite childhood pizza. It’s not exactly Lou’s, but it’s also not half bad.
Rotterdam native Bas Scheffer has been traveling to Italy since he was a child. That sparked a lifelong love for Italian culture and pizza. During COVID, he and his girlfriend would make pizzas in an Ooni oven, which led to the birth of Pizza Project, a pizzeria just a few blocks from Vondelpark. In a city full of Neapolitan pizzas, this one really stands out, due in part to their longer fermentation and use of a pre-ferment.
Eytan Sugarman certainly has strong opinions about pizza. He grew up on the Upper West Side, eating slices all over the city. So when his friend suggested they open a place together, the research and development phase took on a life of its own. The result is Made in New York Pizza, which opened on the Upper West Side in 2018 and recently opened a second location in the West Village.
Pete Ternes really just wanted to make beer. But when he and his partners opened Bungalow by Middle Brow, their sprawling space in Chicago’s Logan Square, they realized they needed to offer something besides just drinks. Bread for sure, but why not pizza? It was an experience at Roberta’s in Bushwick that really convinced Ternes he could create something unique in Chicago. The result is one of the best artisan pies in town, with an all-natural starter and a long fermentation.
Copeland Moore is the 4th generation at La Segunda Bakery, which was started by his great-grandfather in 1915 in Ybor City, near the port in Tampa Bay. It’s here where Cubans, Spanish, Germans and Italians all settled together. The city was a huge cigar producer and gave birth to the Cuban Sandwich (but with the addition of Genoa Salami, which you don’t find in Miami). This melting pot really influenced the bread, the pastries and the pizza in the area. There are now a half dozen well-known bakeries in the area all offering slightly different versions of scachatta, but the OG is La Segunda.
Darby Aldaco got into some big trouble as a kid, stealing pizzas from stopped delivery cars. At 18, he was arrested for stealing a Domino’s pizza, subsequently losing his prom date. He wound his way through the L.A. bread scene, worked for Nancy Silverton at Triple Beam, then began commuting to Portland for a pizza project. The result is Pizza Thief (and the Bandit Bar next door). They make 18 inch pies and focus on sour dough and whole grains with high hydration. Like so many of their peers in Portland, they get all of their ingredients from local farms, markets and mills in the Northwest.
What do you do when a vacant space in the same strip mall near your restaurant becomes available, and there’s a pizza oven already there? If you’re the team behind Muss & Turner’s, you turn it into a pizzeria, naturally. In 2005, Muss & Turner’s took on the sandwich, trying to expand and improve upon a well known menu item. Smyrna, Georgia was a pretty sleepy suburb of Atlanta back then. Fast forward a dozen plus years, and now the Atlanta Braves’ stadium is nearby, with a number of new restaurants in the area. The pizza coming from MTH in a suburban mall is way better than it probably needs to be.
The three guys behind the company – Todd Mussman, Ryan Turner, Chris Hall – have become known for creating the Giving Kitchen, an organization that provides emergency assistance to restaurant workers through financial assistance and community resources.
John Sundstrom has been one of Seattle’s most respected chefs for nearly two decades. At Lark, he uses his knowledge and skill to create seasonal dishes, working with local farmers. But a few years ago, he decided to get into pizza, and the learning curve was steep. During the pandemic, business accelerated, and having Southpaw located directly across the street from a college campus has put him in the unique position of creating pizzas that appeal to both students as well as diners accustomed to his more creative approach to cooking.
Jerry Benedetto really missed Chicago when he moved to Portland for his wife’s job. But more than anything he missed the thin-and-crispy pizza that is a hallmark of his hometown. That passion and longing led to a Covid-fueled journey through flour, sauce, sausage and giardiniera that has led to a regular pop-up, and eventually, a pizza place. The story behind Jerry’s Pizza is certainly inspiring for anyone who has ever dreamed of going into pizza full-time.