Zero Zero Opens and a Visit to Pizzeria Piccofeatured

Pizzeria Picco Summer Squash pizza

Serotta Pizza: summer squash, picco pancetta, calabrian chili, basil pesto, mozzarella, crescenza, parmesan

The Eater Wire was abuzz last Wednesday with the opening of Bruce Hill’s new pizza place, Zero Zero, in SoMa (between Lulu and Oola).

Zero Zero Pizzeria Pizzeria Picco Larkspur

While I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, if the pizza is anything like the ones at sister restaurant, Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, we are in for a treat!

I had the chance to catch up with Hill at Picco a few weeks ago for a story I was covering on Serious Eats: Slice. In fact, while we were shooting photos and stuffing our faces working, Executive Chef Chris Whaley was firing up the new pizza oven at Zero Zero for the first time.

We made some pies…

Bruce Hill making pizza

Bruce Hill showing us how it's done

Chatted technique…

pizzeria picco pizza oven

Pizza Oven: 903 degrees

And of course, ate! We tried three different pizzas:

  1. The classic Margherita –tomato sauce, basil, and creamy, buffalo mozzarella)
  2. The Serotta – basil pesto, pureed Calabrian chili, homemade pancetta, summer squash, mozzarella, parmesan, and a drizzle of amazing soft, gooey, straciatella cheese from Bellwether Farms)
  3. The Marin – new potatoes, sliced paper-thin and tossed in a fragrant rosemary olive oil, dabs of roasted garlic, mozzarella, and grated Grana Padano

(In case you were wondering, Hill’s personal favorite is the Margherita with sausage and peppers.)

Pizzeria Picco Potato Roasted Garlic pizza

Some interesting things I learned:

  • Hill keeps his pizza ovens at a whopping 900 degrees. The pizza gets fired for approximately 3 minutes. Sounds fast, huh? Apparently though, according to the official “Rules of Neopolitan Pizza” set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (yes, there is an actual rule book full of very specific guidelines for what constitutes as “real” Neopolitan Pizza!), the pizza should be baked no longer than 60-90 seconds.
  • You need to eat the pizza right away! So yes, risk scalding your mouth. If you let too much time pass from the time the pizza comes out of the oven, to the time you devour it, it will lose its perfect crispy:chewy ratio.
  • I marveled at how easy to work with the dough was. Soft as a cloud. I learned that they rest their dough for 2-3 days so it’s super relaxed when it comes time to stretch it.
  • Pizzeria Picco and Zero Zero use almond wood to fuel their pizza ovens. Hill says, “It’s an ecological choice, really, since 90% of the world’s almonds are grown in California…makes for an abundance of almond orchards and almond wood.”
  • A common theme in the food service industry: relationships are all important. Andante Dairy’s master cheesemaker, Soyoung Scanlan is such a fan of Picco’s pizzas, that she made a special cheese just for them. No one else gets it, and believe me, it is something special. It’s a luxuriously rich Jersey cow’s milk cheese that is used on the Son of Yeti, a pizza of mushrooms, leeks, garlic and thyme. It’s kind of like a uber-high quality version of Laughing Cow. (Fun fact: Andante makes all the butter for The French Laundry).
  • In classic Bay Area form, Hill and his chefs go to three to four local farmers markets a week to source their fresh ingredients. They’ve even started coining the term “Cali-politan” to describe their style of pizza. The technique is all Neopolitan, from the Tipo “00” flour used in the dough, to the blistered crust and floppy center. The attention to ingredients though, the simplicity of letting the ingredients speak for themselves, is pure Californian.

Bruce Hill, pizza-maker & restaurateur

Bruce Hill, pizza-maker & restaurateur

Needless to say, we are thrilled to be able to get our Cali-politan fix now, with Zero Zero right in the neighborhood! Boasting 2 gorgeous bars, a cocktail menu that features whole punch bowls of booze, tried and true pizzas, and Straus Creamery soft serve on the menu, Zero Zero is well poised to become a new local favorite.

Straus Creamery Soft Serve

Vanilla Soft Serve with DaVero Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt

BTW, the famous Soft Serve with Olive Oil is not to be missed. Sounds weird, I know, but it totally works. I’ve been craving a taste of this again ever since I tried it! Dying to try it with chocolate soft serve. Mmmm. They start with the organic soft serve mix from Straus Family Creamery, and then bump up the fat content from 6% to 10%. Poke a few holes in it — shave ice style — drizzle some liquid gold on top, and finish it off with a sprinkle of sea salt. Heaven.

Banana fingerling potatoes

Organic Banana Fingerling Potatoes

Pizzeria Picco’s Potato and Roasted Garlic Pizza
As featured in Serious Eats: Slice, July 29, 2010.

Makes: 1 small pizza

1 dough portion (Peter Reinhart’s Neapolitan dough recipe works well, or easier yet, pick some up from your favorite pizzeria, most will sell it if you ask)
1 young organic potato (Hill suggests banana fingerlings or baby German butterballs), peeled and sliced super thin
Roasted garlic (about 12 cloves)
Fresh mozzarella, diced (about a palm full)
Grana Padano, grated (about half a palm full)
Rosemary olive oil

1. Try not to touch the edge of the dough when you’re stretching and pressing it out. You’ll be rewarded with a nicely rounded, raised crust.
2. When you place the roasted garlic on the pie, smash it down a bit so that it lays flat.
3. Be sure to dry the fresh mozzarella pieces in paper towels. Fresh mozzarella has a high level of moisture, so if you don’t get rid of some of it, you risk a soggy pizza.
4. It is important for the potatoes to be sliced as thin as possible since they are placed on the pizza raw. If you have a mandolin, this is the time to break it out.
5. Toss the potato slices in a few tablespoons of rosemary olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. (Note: to make your own rosemary olive oil, pulse together some fresh rosemary and high quality, extra virgin olive oil in a food processor or blender. Rosemary is strong so a little goes a long way. Start with 1 sprig to a cup of oil and add more if need be.)
6. Sprinkle the grated Grana Padano last.
7. Check for any “dead spots,” a.k.a. any bare spots that have no toppings. Also check to see that the toppings go right to the edge of the crust. Hill calls this “edge discipline.”

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Pizzeria Picco
316 Magnolia Ave
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 945-8900

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Zero Zero
826 Folsom St
(between 4th St & 5th St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 348-8800

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