Checking In with the Casey's Pizza Pop-Up at Vinyl
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.
John Birdsall The margherita ($14) from Casey's Pizza's Vinyl Wine Bar weekly pop-up.
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.
Casey's Pizza/Facebook Casey Crynes, left, at the electric oven at Cafe Divis/Vinyl.
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.
Follow Casey's Pizza's movements on Facebook, or on Twitter at @CaseysPizza