In the United States, October is observed as National Pizza Month. This celebration began in 1984 by Gerry Durnell, founder of the magazine Pizza Today. Gerry chose October as that month coincided with the debut of his magazine that year. He was the owner of a pizzeria in Santa Claus, IN and realized there were no magazines or trade publications to help his business or the industry overall.
Sourdough uses wild yeast while conventional pizza uses baker’s yeast, which is a single strain of yeast from a wild yeast culture. Baker’s yeast made it faster and cheaper to produce baked goods, but also removed a lot of the nutritional value.
Sourdough pizza is healthier and easier to digest than regular pizza for a number of reasons. It has a lower glycemic index than other pizza. Sourdough is much lower in phytates due to the lactic acid bacteria in it. The fermentation process creates prebiotics and probiotics. Some people with gluten sensitivities can even handle sourdough.
But not all sourdoughs are created equally. Even with sourdough, it’s important to use organic flour. Many sourdough bakers take a shortcut and use conventional flour thinking people will eat it just because it’s sourdough.
In alphabetical order, here are the 9 best organic sourdough pizzas in Los Angeles:
Locations: Pasadena, Silverlake, Studio City, Fairfax, Beverly Hills Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Calabasas
Erewhon began as an independent natural foods store in Boston in 1966 and launched Erewhon West in Los Angeles in 1968. In the past decade, additional Erewhon stores were built and there are now a total of five supermarkets. Erewhon has high standards for what they allow in their stores, including no refined flour. As even some natural and organic loaves used refined flour, Erewhon bakes its own fresh organic line of breads with sourdough being among them. The Erewhon stores all also have cafes where shoppers can take out food. Some also have tables to eat at outside. Among the menu items offered at the cafes are organic sourdough pizzas. They have several types of pizzas or you can make your own with the wonderful veggies and meat that pass the Erewhon standards.
Friends & Family Pizza Co.
www.ffpizzaco.comFriends & Family is a sourdough bakery run by pastry chef/baker Roxana Jullapat and chef Daniel Mattern. The two have been long time supporters of cooking with real produce. They spent over 15 years working at a number of the top restaurants in Los Angeles before starting Friends & Family. Their artisan breads are hand made and consist of locally sourced heirloom grains. More recently, they’ve launched the restuarant Friends & Family Pizza Co., serving pies made with their sourdough starter.
Location: Historic Filipinotown
Michael McSharry went from being in the advertising world in London to making pizza and bread at a restaurant on the border of Echo Park and Historic Filipinotown. He said that while sourdough wood fired pizzas are all over London, Los Angeles is just getting warmed up to them. He’s helping in part with Grá Restaurant. Grá not only focuses on pizza, but other types of ferments as it menu also includes pickles, kimchi, kombucha, and skin-contact wine.
Hail Mary Pizza
Location: Historic Filipinotown
The ingredients for the pies at Hail Mary Pizza are sourced directly from small farmers, so they know how the food was grown, raised, and harvested in addition to having a relationship with the growers. Their organic wheat is grown in California and Utah and uses a good amount of wheat flour. The dough is made by hand daily. They also use ethically sourced meat and seafood to top their pizzas. These toppings include sausage, chorizo, salami, porchetta, and anchovies.
Häsi‘s story originates with its founder Matias Barang (or Häsi as friends called him) learning to bake sourdough in Austria from a four generation baker family known as “Da Sticklerbäck”. From there, Häsi built a wood fired oven with his brother and father in their backyard in Studio City. He then began baking loaves weekly for his office co-workers, neighbors, and friends. When 2020 stopped his plan to lease space in Burbank for a bakery, Häsi built his own bakery in a residential area of Studio City. This allowed his business to function under the social distancing guidelines. The sourdough is made from a blend of the ancient grains khorasan, rye, and spelt. The beautifully colored bread uses real ingredients to get its colors. The blue color comes from a blue pea flower while the yellow is obtained from turmeric root. Häsi has also begun doing pop-ups were they bake sourdough pizzas.
Location: Culver City
www.lodgebread.comOr Amsalam and Alexander Phaneuf started the Lodge Bread by saying to each other “I dare you to do it.” They began working on the business at the end of 2014 and opened the physical bakery a year later. They mill the flour themselves and have various types of sourdough breads, including ones using whole grains, hard red wheat, spelt, and rye. Their bakeries also have a menu of items to order and provide classes on how to make your own sourdough. At their original Culver City location, they offer various types of sourdough pizzas.
Locations: Silverlake, West Hollywood, Brentwood
Chris & Caroline O’Donnell were holding Sunday night pizza parties when they met chef Daniele Uditi. Daniele grew up in Naples, Italy. His craft is a combination of what he learned through his family bakery’s traditional bread recipes and having been trained at some the best pizzerias in Campania. Daniele introduced the O’Donnells to his signature slow dough fermented for 48 hours and the idea for Pizzana began. Also a part of the restaurant are Sprinkles founders Candace & Charles Nelson. The couple have a passion and undertaking to using fresh and seasonal produce from the local farmers markets.
Location: Long Beach
Chef Jason Winters has worked in the kitchens of some of the country’s best chefs. About a decade ago, he founded Urban Pies, which was both one of the first mobile wood fired pizzerias in Southern California as well one of the first sourdough pizzas in the region. After becoming a top pizza caterer in Los Angeles, Jason decided to purchase the former Scratch Baked Goods space in Long Beach and open Speak Cheezy. His pizzas are made with artisan flours from Washington, Utah, California and Vermont and are naturally fermented for three to five days. The ingredients on the pizzas are sourced from local farms. Speak Cheezy makes pizza in various styles, such as Neapolitan, Sicilian, California, and Chicago thin crust.
Topanga Grain Company
Location: West Hills
Topanga Grain Company founder Lisa McCullough Roark was raised by a family of great bakers and cooks where everything was homemade. Her father’s side of the family also followed a branch based off of the Amish and her cousins milled their own flour. She then began learning about the dangers of white flour while working many years for a health practitioner. Growing up in the south, Lisa had a love of good food. She decided to buy her own mill and see if she could make food which was both healthy and tasted great. To learn how to cook better, she enrolled in the San Francisco Baking Institute. In 2018, she opened the Topanga Grain Company. For her business, she still mills the grains herself and hand mixes the flour and water to make her wide range of sourdough breads. The Topanga Grain Company sells its breads at farmers markets all over Los Angeles. Most recently, they began selling sourdough pizzas at Malibu Wines & Beer Garden in West Hills on Friday & Sunday and soon Saturdays.