In his review of Zero Zero, Chronicle critic Michael Bauer seemed to know he'd hyped too far when he busted out the French Laundry in reference to Bruce Hill's Folsom Street pizzeria. Blame San Francisco's unquenchable pizza ardor, an enthusiasm not reserved for brick and mortars alone. New pizza's also showing up on the street.
When Casey's Pizza launched two months ago, owner Casey Crynes became the city's third outdoor pizza vendor, after PizzaHacker and Copper Top Ovens. Crynes sets up his modified 18-inch Weber on various stretches of Mission District sidewalk most Friday nights. Those modifications include a high-powered propane burner, a pizza stone, an assortment of fire bricks, and foil insulation. Crynes says his rigged pizza deck can reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit, though he likes to cook pies at a deck temperature more like 750 degrees, with an ambient heat of 800.
What makes a guy who works days as a Web producer devote his free time to spinning pizzas on the street? The status of an enthusiast, says Crynes, especially for the New York thin-crust pies he grew up eating on the East Coast. "Lombardi's, Grimaldi's," Crynes says, "and newer spots in New York like Lucali and Di Fara's. They have the hallmark of that old New York style, the char and chew and crispy-ness to the crust."
Crynes calls Anthony Mangieri of San Francisco's Una Pizza Napoletana "a super nice guy." Delfina's a local favorite, Emilia's too, plus a place in Emeryville ― Rotten City ― where owner Jonas Bernstein let Crynes do an internship. Along the way he picked up his method: for the dough he uses locally milled high-protein flour with a touch of whole wheat ("to liven it up"), and cold-proofs for 24 hours. Crynes can produce about seven hand-stretched pies in an hour. His margherita costs $10 for a whole pie, $6 for half.
Crynes says the sidewalk's only a first step. He wants his own pizza brick and mortar eventually, though no doubt something altogether less ambitious than the French Laundry.
Casey's Pizza: Various locations; check @CaseysPizza on Twitter for updates.