S.F. Rising: Provolone-Olive Rolls at Arizmendi

Categories: Bread
Jonathan Kauffman
Arizmendi's provolone-olive bread, available as a braided loaf and a roll.
SF Rising is SFoodie's weekly survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked and the fried, the artisan and the novelty.

Provolone-Olive Bread and Rolls
Source: Arizmendi Bakery, 1331 Ninth Ave. (at Judah), 566-3117 (with sister cooperatives in the Mission, Oakland, Emeryville, and San Rafael)
Price: $3/pound, or roughly $1/roll and $4-5 for a loaf
Toast-appropriateness: 2/10

Arizmendi, the network of worker-owned cooperative bakeries that share the same brand and recipes, can't seem to land a bad location. The brand new Mission Arizmendi's doing well. The Inner Sunset is going swimmingly. We love our worker-owned cooperatives! We love our chocolate things!

I can't actually say that I'm a fan of the dense chocolate things  ― I tend to stick to the scones, pecan rolls, and occasional pizza slice. But on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the bakery's daily specials include provolone-olive rolls that make great sandwiches. (The same dough is also used to bake a full-sized braided loaf.)

Provolone oozes out of the dough as it heats, baking into a crackling, salty fringe around the bottom: a pre-bread snack. Bite in, and you encounter flecks of green olive ― enough to lend an earthy tinge to the flavor but not enough to contribute an off-putting bitterness ― and the occasional caramelized onion, so soft it almost gushes. The cheese-olive bread tastes like a lunch in itself, and can certainly double as a snack, but stands down when layered with mayonnaise and mustard, ham or chopped-egg salad. A frame just as striking as the picture it contains.

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