Sam Ciccarelli and Rosie Dooley live in a kaleidoscopic attic home that is a maze of triangles, tunneled bedrooms and expansive skylights that have inspired them to launch a one-of-a-kind pizza venture. The couple, who met while working at the famed Chez Panisse, sell wild-fermented pizzas cooked in a 2,000-pound, igloo-shaped oven bolted to the flatbed of a vintage 1989 Ford 250 truck.
source.image: Kirsten Dirksen
At every pop-up since they launched a year ago, lines snake around the block and pies sell out fast. Ciccarelli is dedicated to creating an ideal sourdough; he believes in the power of naturally-fermented doughs not just for for better digestion and gut health, but he mentions longevity studies showing that blue zone inhabitants tend to eat sourdough over breads leavened with industrial yeasts.
He is dedicated to his sourdough starter: he feeds several on a regular basis and stores one as backup in the freezer. His was originally brought from Italy, but he later realized natural leavens pick up the friendly lactobacillus bacteria from their current location, which isn’t a problem given the Bay Area’s renown for its sourdoughs.
On the day of a pop-up, he starts mixing the dough at 4 a.m for 70 pounds of dough – enough for 130 pizzas – and has to adjust the mix based on the weather. Changes in temperature can ruin a fermented dough so Ciccarelli is continually experimenting with ancient-grain flours and the dough’s hydration to create exemplary crusts.Ciccarelli named the pop-up (and hopefully the future restaurant) Urelio’s after his great-grandfather, and he was inspired by the big Italian meals he grew up with.