EATERS DIGEST: Detroit-Style Pizza in the Scotts Valley and Humble Sea Tavern Preview
Welcome to the weekend, my friends. I don’t know about you, but I could use a beer, probably because there was so much beer-centric news this week – good and bad.
The bad news is that while there could be a shortage of barley due to bad weather, that’s certainly not the only cost hike that local brewers are struggling to bear. Luckily, a much-anticipated addition to Felton’s downtown scene is set to open in a few weeks, so we’ll have one more place to drown our sorrows with a nice glass of beer.
And there’s a new pop-up in Scotts Valley that’s exploding the pizza scene with its decadent Detroit-style pies. What is Detroit’s style, you might ask? Keep reading to find out.
The Humble Sea Tavern is set to open next month in the historic Cremer House in Felton, according to Lee DeGraw, head of marketing for Humble Sea Brewing Co. It will be open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and possibly brunch on the weekends, with an “elevated comfort food” menu, an extensive cocktail menu and of course lots of draft beer. DeGraw is particularly enthusiastic about opening up the wraparound patio for al fresco dining and sipping a cocktail. follow us on @humblesea.tavern.
Brewers may have to raise the price of their beer due to a nationwide barley shortage, the San Francisco Chronicle reports Last week. But according to local brewers, it’s not just the cost of barley, the main ingredient in beer, that’s rising, it’s all.
“All of our costs, from aluminum cans to cardboard to CO2 and shipping to get them all to the brewery, have gone up,” says David Purgason, co-owner of Fruition Brewing in Watsonville. Purgason and his companion and bride, Talula Preston, haven’t had to raise prices by $5 to $7 a 12-ounce beer since opening in 2019, despite rising costs. But the barley shortage, caused by drought and heat rather than supply chain issues, adds sobering uncertainty to the future availability of quality brewing supplies.
Rob and Kathleen Genco, owners of Discretion Brewing in Soquel, said they are also used to paying a bit more for their organic brewing supplies. Despite steady price increases for several years, they say they are doing their best to absorb the costs without passing them on to their customers. Rob cites “many other important reasons for rising craft beer costs,” including energy, water, canning supplies, transportation, and “the overall cost of living in our area.” .
I need your help for a future story. Tell me, what are your favorite local Santa Cruz County products at the grocery store? This time, I’m excluding our many talented drink makers and farmers – I want to know who makes the best jams, sauces, pastas, tofu, olives, cookies and more in the grocery store aisles. Tell me to [email protected].
The heavy Detroit-style rectangular pizza stands out from other thinner, rounder, or even smaller pies. In this case, bigger is better, more is more. Here the cheese (there are plenty of them) is encouraged to melt to the sides in the bottom of the pan, creating an irresistible overhang of crunchy, melted, frico– as “crown of cheese”. The bottom crust crisps until nearly deep-fried, to better support many toppings. “Reminds me of your favorite grilled cheese sandwich,” says Matt Driscoll, owner of Pizza Series, a pop-up specializing in Detroit-style pizza. “He gets this caramelized, almost deep-fried batter on the bottom, with a focaccia-y center.”
Driscoll, with his fiancée, Maddy Quesada, launched the Pizza Series in Fall 2020. It appears every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside the Enterprise Technology Center in Scotts Valley, with 10 house combinations and an option of personal construction, all available in Detroit and New York style pies. Customers must order their pizzas in advance via an online order formespecially if they want the Detroit style, which often sells out on Thursdays, although the Pizza Series takes a limited number of appointments.
I’ve visited my fair share of pop-ups and finding them is part of the fun, but even I have to admit that locating the Pizza series is a little tricky. After pulling up on Santas Village Road, off Highway 17, in the nearly empty parking lot of the sprawling vacant corporate campus, the mood is rather apocalyptic.
Fortunately, there are plenty of well-placed signs directing visitors to a parking lot on the other side of the building, past fountains and tennis courts, in the heart of an empty dining hall. But, as the many loyal Pizza Series customers will tell you, the trip is worth it.
Driscoll has lived and breathed pizza since he was a teenager and worked at a Domino’s in Aptos in the late 1990s, and has also worked at Pizza My Heart and Bantam. For eight years he managed the Whole Foods Market pizzeria, training new cooks to make perfect pies, and eventually became the company’s global pizza trainer.
In 2014, he started documenting his recipes on Instagram and began dreaming of owning his own truck. After leaving Whole Foods in 2016, Driscoll began participating in a food truck entrepreneurship program at Google in September 2019. Unfortunately, after a few months, the pandemic made it difficult to continue the program. Detroit native Driscoll decided it was finally time for the Pizza series to see the light of day.
The first thing I notice when I open the box is that my pizza looks good. The Pep & More ($30) is decorated with rosettes of ricotta cheese, little cups of pepperoni shimmering in my kitchen light, and finished with a chiffonade of basil.
This pizza could easily feed four, but after several trips to the kitchen to take seconds, then thirds, my husband and I devoured almost everything. The hand-baked New York style pizzas are also delicious and have a super moist and fragrant crust, but the Detroits are really something else.
Driscoll tells me the goal is to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Scotts Valley with takeout and slice service as soon as they find the right spot. Follow her journey on Instagram at @the_pizza_series and order on thepizzaseries.com.
Chief Brad Briske of Home Restaurant has announced that while February 14 falls on a Monday, when its Soquel location is normally closed, it will be offering limited seating for an exclusive Valentine’s Day tasting menu this year. Make your reservations now for a spot at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. at homesoquel.com.
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