When SFoodie first checked in with Casey Crynes ― last October ― his Casey's Pizza was mostly a sidewalk pop-up in the Mission, a presence at underground markets, and a Thursday-night food option out front of Bloodhound, where Crynes would set up his modified 18-inch Weber grills. But Crynes has made the transition to indoors via a weekly pizza pop-up at Vinyl, the wine bar at Cafe Divis. Crynes has dropped the Bloodhound gig to focus on a pizza pop-up Wednesdays at Vinyl Wine Bar, though starting next week it's on Thursdays, so he can set up his pizza grills at the Wednesday Upper Haight farmers' market.
Last night I tasted Crynes' Neapolitan-style margherita ($14), cooked in Vinyl's counter-top Baker's Pride electric pizza oven, and it was delicious, better than the last margherita we had at Zero Zero. The crust had a topography like a Nevada basin: raised at the edge, tapering to a thin center, with the perfect amount of oven char and a nicely chewy texture. Crynes uses a small proportion of whole wheat in the dough to give it flavor, but I wouldn't have know if it was there if he hadn't told me. Crushed, uncooked, salted tomatoes on top had just enough weedy, tomato-leaf perfume to make me think they might have been Italian San Marzanos (they weren't ― Crynes uses California plums).
And the mozzarella ― an 80-20 mix of aged California mozzarella and Berkeley-made Belfiore fior di latte - Crynes applies using a trick he picked up from New York pizza makers: he cubes the aged mozzarella, and tears the fior di latte balls in pieces. "In a high-heat situation, it melts down and distributes in a nice way," Crynes says.
It's been a bit of a transition, adapting to the electric oven, but Crynes likes the results. "It takes a few extra minutes to cook, and the results are a little more traditional, but it makes me think I could do a pizza cafe." Though that ― or anything brick-and-mortar ― is still somewhere off in Crynes' future. Before that happens, he'd like to start a pizza truck, or maybe get a modified cart that could pass inspections and allow him to sell at Off the Grid. Meantime, Casey's Pizza has its two regular weekly pop-ups, occasional events, and a growing list of companies Crynes is now catering events for.
Next on our tasting list: Crynes' Weber-fired margherita.
Vinyl Wine Bar: 359 Divisadero (at Oak), 621-4132; Thursdays, 6:30-10 p.m.
Upper Haight farmers' market: Waller and Stanyan Streets; Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m.