Lodge Bread, a Culver City bakery-cafe from chef-owners Alexander Phaneuf and Or Amsalam, expanded their space and scope to start 2017. Now they’re equipped with a covered patio, stylish dining room, expanded menu, and a beer and wine program from new General Manager Alex P. Davis, a Certified Cicerone®. A wood-burning oven is another boon to the business, allowing them to expand their Sunday night pizza program to six full days and considerably improve the quality of those pizzas in the process.
The pizza I experienced in March 2016 was just fine, featuring a tangy “naturally leavened, wildly fermented” crust topped with asparagus, Yucaipa egg, Fontina, and espelette. At that stage, they served 60 pizzas per Sunday starting at 5 p.m., spotlighting different seasonal ingredients each week. Their crust was thick, chewy, and closer to loaf of bread than pizza.
In the past year, as pizza started to become a larger focus, Phaneuf and Amsalam have really dialed in their pizza. I’m sure the wood-burning oven, which feasts on almond wood, helps their cause. So does making hundreds of pizzas day. With a handful of different pizzas available on a regular basis, it’s inevitable that they’d refine their product and approach. I enjoyed Margherita and White Pie, both with chewy, pull-apart crusts pocked with the occasional singe mark. Still, I was most impressed with their Wild Mushroom Pizza ($16) an earthy, balanced blend of molten Taleggio, garlic, chives, Parmesan, and both shimeji and hen of the wood mushrooms. Wild mushrooms have proven popular, so hopefully that pizza sticks around for awhile, but as Phaneuf said, “Spring is transitioning fast right now.”
Phaneuf explained their decision to upgrade to a wood-burning oven, citing “the ability to elevate our pizza to a level that makes things more fun, more interesting and more flavorful.” If Taylor Swift has #SquadGoals, then Lodge Bread Co. has #PizzaGoals. “Every single day is a new day, its just like our bread,” Phaneuf said. “Our goals often change, warp, or get totally lost in the fire. The pizza game is wild and unpredictable, thusly fun as hell for us bakers.”