I love pizza, I always have and I always will. I also believe that pizza can be part of a healthy and whole food lifestyle, I have proven that over the past year. My memory is filled with pizza related anecdotes. I used to wait tables at an iconic pizza shop off the Syracuse University campus where the owner slung doughs in the window for 40 years. I have eaten classic versions on the piazzas of Italy. I’ve grinned watching my son eat half a margherita at Boot & Shoe Service. I’ve had my eyes opened wide by squid, cherry tomatoes, and aioli on a version at Pizzaiolo. I have sipped a beer while eating kale & pancetta with my kids at Jules Thin Crust, pointing out the animals in the pictures draped across the walls. All these memories connect pizza to my heart and put a smile on my face. When I heard about a group of local Oakland guys bringing half-baked artisan pizzas to the doorsteps of our neighborhoods, I knew I had to give Pizza Matador a try.
Launched during Memorial Day weekend of 2015 by two seasoned pizza delivery drivers, Chris Horvath and Chris Ferreira, Pizza Matador has tapped an untouched niche of the booming food delivery trend; how to get an artisan pizza with fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients into a customers hands at their doorstep. While some local restaurants offer takeout pies, and bakeries such as Arizmendi offer a light baked version of those dished out in-house, none offer the convenience of home delivery. With a growing team of old classmates, friends, and family now stepping up to help this fast growing business, Pizza Matador is proof that this niche needed to be filled.
I had the pleasure of visiting the working kitchen of Pizza Matador last Friday to take a look at how these half baked pies are made. Hardworking is obviously an adjective I would use to describe this group of friends, but when paired with a welcoming attitude, good laughs, great stories, and a whole lot of patience with a nosy blogger taking pictures over their shoulder during a Friday evening push, the adjective hardworking doesn’t do justice. While Chris assembled pizzas from classic cheese to wild mushrooms with truffle oil, Michael prepped asparagus into thin strips to be paired with cheddar and arugula on the next round. John warmed up with a few initial wrappings of the final product before giving me a perfect package to snap a picture of.
Pizza Matador’s dough is made through a 3-day fermentation process, yielding a depth of flavor that is often lacking from standard delivery pizzas. Chris shared with me the inspiration he has found from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions, a tribute to whole and traditional food preparation methods and the benefit it brings to our long term health. He educated me about the benefits of long-fermented breads, which are easier to digest because the gluten proteins have been broken down.
As the final pizzas were stacking up on the racks, I knew that making a decision on what version I wanted to try first was going to be tricky. Taking in the smell of truffle oil for an hour had me sold on the wild mushrooms. I knew that after Chris described their signature pie involving chorizo, romesco sauce, manchego, red peppers, and spanish olives, I couldn’t resist. Of course a classic cheese was going to be in order for the kiddos.
So two days later on a mellow Sunday evening, my family and I got to sample a few Pizza Matador selections. Dropped off right on time by Matador team member Corey, I was excited to unwrap my own to enjoy. Following the instructions, we preheated our pizza stone at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. A baking sheet can also be used. Chris confirmed for me that the preheated surface is what is critical to a perfectly cooked crust, without overcooking the toppings.
With our days getting longer and the evening temperature still mild, we decided to ditch the Oscars and sit outside to enjoy the last bit of sunlight. While Jake and I enjoyed our slices with a simple salad and beer, our kids chowed down on slices of cheese while laughing and running laps between bites.
A evening meal outdoors, our first of 2016; a great pizza, a cold beer, and the first good picture I have gotten of Alex in a REALLY long time. Pizza Matador helped give me another memory for the bank, another smile on my heart. For that I tell them, thank you. As I said, I have always loved pizza, and I always will. I now have a fabulous option to bring it right to my threshold, brought to me by a group of hardworking Oakland friends who love pizza too.
I encourage you to give Pizza Matador a try the next time a slice, or three, is in order.
For more information, please visit their website, pizzamatador.com
A rough idea of how it works: pizzas can be pre-ordered from the full daily menu on their website from 7:00am-2:00pm, which is recommended to avoid sellouts. After 2:00pm you can continue ordering, options will depend on availability. Deliveries are made between 4:00-8:00pm.
Worth noting, delivery is FREE. You have the option to add a tip for your driver when you place your order online. I come from a service background and don’t tolerate non-tippers, so TIP YOUR DRIVER :o)
Currently, Pizza Matador is open for deliveries Tues-Sun, closed on Mondays. Delivery areas are noted on their website. While they are currently available for delivery through specific areas of Oakland, I would recommend signing up for their newsletter because I expect this growing business is going to continue to expand.
I would like to especially thank Brandon Shulman and Chris Horvath of Pizza Matador for their help and gracious invitation to let me come visit.
I also want to thank Corinne Kinczel of Two Local Girls for telling me all about Pizza Matador. Make sure you check out her great cafe and to-go food options tucked inside Rocky’s Market in the Oakmore Neighborhood.
All Photos by Adrienne Schell