When you enter Pizza Supreme Being, it looks simple. Simple menu (slices and whole pies; 5 flavors), simple –nonexistent really—décor; one quick glance encompasses the entire interior. There are 20 seats total, including patio, a self-serve cooler with a well-chosen selection of sodas, craft beer and wine, and a letter board menu. As I walk in, a stylish young woman declares, “reminds me of cool pizzerias where you’d have little league.”
A chat with co-proprietor (along with his wife Pembe Sonmez-Roberts) Ben Roberts quickly reveals the careful thought that went into each aspect of this tiny new labor of love. The blue of those blank walls? Meant to invoke the color on the album cover of Black Flag’s 1984 album “My War”. The dough of those five simple pies? Naturally leavened, with moisture content tracked by spreadsheet.
This is an advanced-level chef move that befits his decade-plus in the restaurant industry.
And although the slices range from $3.50-$5, whatever you do, don’t call PSB “cheap.” He quickly corrects that notion, saying, “We always say affordable. When you say ‘cheap’ it implies McDonald’s food. We are using organic ingredients and nice cheeses.” “Nice” is perhaps a bit modest; Ben hand-pulls the mozzarella.
This is an advanced-level chef move that befits his decade-plus in the restaurant industry. In 2006 this self-proclaimed “truant, not studious” kid from Grass Valley, raised on Pop Tarts and Hamburger Helper, left behind a mom who was disappointed that he hadn’t turned out to be a cowboy, and moved to Alkali Flats to be closer to the punk and hardcore music scenes.
A first job making pizzas at Paragary-owned R15 has led to steady employment in the restaurant biz since then, first at Shady Lady and related ventures, next for the Selland’s group, including at Ella Restaurant for almost five years. He found himself with that rare commodity in the restaurant industry –weekends off—and he and Pembe decided to start a pizza pop-up at venues such as Bottle & Barlow and coffee shop The Mill.
She kept her day job in marketing through almost five years of itinerant popups, and the couple continued to save money for a brick-and-mortar. When the former space of Magpie-affiliated Yellowbill became available, they signed the lease.
As the business plan evolved, the pizza did too. PSB pizzas were first made with commercial yeast but have completely morphed over time to be made with yeast that comes from the ambient air to create a starter which must be fed and cared-for like a spoiled child. This lends the crust a depth of flavor and natural tang.
The Hawaiian slice is a standout, although Roberts openly declares his initial hate (which has turned to love, over time) for this controversial pizza flavor. He reluctantly created it for a Bottle & Barlow popup at an owner’s request and found that inebriated people “ate the crap out of it.”PSB’s version has fresh shaved pineapple, and small-dice Spam in place of the more traditional Canadian bacon.
They are also serving a square slice, a newly trendy variation on a style of pizza that originated in Detroit, in which the cheese is underneath the sauce. Piled high with crispy Molinari pepperoni, the alternating textures of tender, spongy crust and crunchy corner cheese bits are a delight.
A nuanced, herb-laced wedge salad and a gooey, salted chocolate chip cookie can bookend any meal, and you can even take a can of beer or wine to go, with an order of food.
Business has been “crazy” since the April opening, with Roberts and his wife consistently putting in 18-hour days, six days a week. There can be a line around lunchtime, but Capitol folks on a tight schedule can rest assured that the always-thoughtful Roberts has thought this through as well. The abbreviated menu and newly-hired additional staff of two leads to a quick turnaround, and if all the seats are taken Roberts points out that Capitol Park is a block away:
“There’s an absolutely beautiful cactus garden, and rose garden. Go on a picnic!”
Pizza Supreme Being
1425 14th Street, Suite C
Sacramento, CA, 95814
Editor’sNote: This review also appeared on Page A22 of Capitol Weekly’s Open Enrollment special edition.