There’s been a growing buzz lately around a man named Jeff Krupman. Starting out as a street seller of artisan style homemade pizzas he recently found a more permanent venue at a Mission Street storefront in Bernal Heights. To see if Jeff’s pies truly represent a learnt art of pizza-making, we recently caught up with his pizza minions and the one month old PizzaHacker restaurant.
The unassuming entrance leads to a small low lit hall with high ceilings slightly obscured by draped party colored lights. Picnic community style tables provide seating and a long expansive chalk board seats the menu and some freestyle doodles. The partially open kitchen sits towards the rear and sends baked pies to servers and walk-in patrons for pickups. The noise levels wouldn’t be considered meditative as we heard a numerous amounts of belly laughs and shouts but we reminded ourselves that this is still a pizza joint. Overall, the interior setting is both comfortable and causal.
The two roaming servers did seem slightly overwhelmed when patron levels were high, however, they were attentive and their warm smiles and willing-to-please attitudes made us feel comfortable. Upon a question regarding a potentially missing topping, the server quickly brought a cup full of the same topping that was later revealed already on the pizza. Although they could probably use additional floor servers, we generally were pleased with the service.
Appropriately, the minimalist menu offered a choice of beverage options including soda and beer. We chose the server recommended flight-of-beer option. The flight consisted of three Kolsch style beers each originating from different local bay area breweries. Each beer had it’s own distinct profile and paired well with the accompanied pizzas.
The Rocket Man
Fresh Mozzarella, Farm Egg, Calabrian Chili Paste, Lemon Juice, Parmigiano Cheese, and Garlic
The Rocket Man pie was presented in all its arugula glory and proudly brandished its centerpiece ingredient: a farm egg. The soft and somewhat chewy dough had a crispy outer layer and soft interior. The salted, slightly garlicky and carbonized crust edges enhanced the flavors of the dough and would make the most ardent crust wasters to reconsider. The intermingling taste elements of the arugula’s bitterness, lemon’s acidity, mozzarella’s saltiness and chili paste’s spiciness created an interesting flavor profile. The egg slice had softer dough and gave a brunch-like feel to the dish. Our only gripe was the loosely placed arugula topping kept falling off our slices.
The Yo Vinny!
Marinated Onions, Mama Lil’s Pickled Goat Horn Peppers, 4505 Hot Italian Sausage, Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzerella
The Yo Vinny pizza tasted less balanced than The Rocket Man. Despite Yo Vinny’s dough sharing similar qualities to the first pie, there was an increase in charring as large blackened dough bubbles prominently displayed along the perimeter of the pie. A degree of charring is desirable but was taken to an excess in this example. Cheese flavors were more dominant as melted fresh white mozzarella laid over a generously portioned yellowy cheese base. Unfortunately, the anticipated hot Italian sausage, lacked both in quantity and rich flavor. The most interesting aspect of the pie was the pickled peppers that offered both a sweetness and spicy kick.
With arguably the best crusts yet tasted in San Francisco, Jeff Krupman has a good thing going. The quality and preparation of the dough was reflected in the pizza’s fluffiness, crispness and freshness. We had hoped the “Yo Vinny!” example to be more interesting with a stronger taste and significantly more sausage portions. Also, we would like some quality control on amount of acceptable chariness allowed for each served pie. Despite these flaws, the Rocket Man’s toppings showed originality and provided interesting taste tensions. Overall, pizza lovers should check out this new establishment. We’ll plan a revisit later in the year to identify whether the kinks have been worked out.
A significant rule in pizza-making is the master’s ability to derive the taste and overall satisfaction of a pizza with only a minimal and select amount of ingredients. As a result, each ingredient’s characteristics such as freshness, quality and preparation become more important to the overall taste of the pizza. The dough is the largest and most important attribute of the dish. Dough that is either too stiff, rubbery and dense reflects either flaws in the ingredients or incorrect preparation. Additionally, a high quality cheese will produce less offending grease and provide a complimentary flavor element between the dough and toppings above. For artisan style pizzas in this price range we expect the proper execution of both these main ingredients in selection and preparation. For the most part, PizzaHacker nailed both of these ingredients.