Westside-dwelling pizza fanatics have never been short on great places to grab a slice. There’s Gjelina Take Away, Milo & Olive, Sotto, Stella Barra, Abbot’s; the list goes on ad infinitum in a constant state of ebb and flow. As of late November, you can officially pencil a new joint into the canon—even if it’s only a pizzeria for three hours a week.
Every Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m., Lodge Bread Company owners Or Amsalam and Alexander Phaneuf take a break from baking red winter wheat loaves and brick-sized cinnamon rolls to crank their oven to full blast—it gets up to about 550 degrees—and churn out some some tasty whole wheat pies.
Though the duo knew they wanted to do pizzas since day one at Lodge—both had pizza/flatbread experience in their 10-15 years working in kitchens—the specifics of their dough recipe was a total accident. “The day before we did our first pizza night we messed up our entire batch of dough by adding double the sourdough starter,” Phaneuf and Amsalam said “We walked in the next day and dough was just flooded all over the kitchen.”
With only a few hours left until the first pie was supposed to come out of the oven, Amsalam took some of their whole wheat dough, added sourdough starter, and jury-rigged a pizza base that turned out better than the original made from light-weight pastry flour. Similar to that whole lemons into lemonade cliché, Amsalam and Phaneuf turned a dough explosion into an opportunity to exercise their baking ethos. “It was a good accident though because it kind of forced us to get back to what we do normally, which is using whole grain flour and making those super dark breads,” they said.
As Amsalam and Phaneuf will readily explain, whole grains aren’t just revered in the baking community for moralistic or health reasons, but because they’re more flavorful than their white counterpart that’s been stripped of all that tasty bran and germ. The end result at Lodge is a slightly sweet and earthy crust whose sour funkiness gets accentuated by a deep char from the gas burning oven. This isn’t your typical thin ‘n’ crispy Neapolitan either—the pizzas at Lodge Bread have some serious heft and chew and it creates a massive payload delivery system for toppings.
With as much thought that goes into the crust, Amsalam and Phaneuf are putting equal emphasis on the stuff that gets thrown on top. Last week’s “Za Night” featured house-roasted tomato sauce, burrata, charred spigarello, and splashes of herb-infused olive oil, while past pies have boasted ingredients like torpedo onions, Turkish olives, and Bell’s ricotta.
You might not be able to order with an emoji, and they may not have super sweet combo deals that come with wings and 2 liters of Diet Pepsi (yet …), but the dudes at Lodge Bread Company are making some seriously tasty pizzas in Culver City.