Friday, March 30, 2012

The Concept

 Well,  today was supposed to be a big budget meeting.... first of many delays I suppose.  Then I realized there was nowhere on the blog yet that describes my concept!  Silly me, I guess I've been talking about it for so long with most of you, I thought everybody knew!  So I thought I'd go back a little, start with a few pre-restaurant photos, and you might get the picture. Please understand these were pizza parties at my house in preparation for things to come.

But Pizzalina will be a local watering hole that delivers delicious, hand-made food in a lively and casual atmosphere where the passion for life, food, family, friends, & community are all felt the minute you walk in the door.  Customers will feel like part of “the family” as they come into “our house”, gather around the hearth, and break “pizza” together.

Neapolitan style, artisan pizzas will be served in an Italian wood-fired oven.  There will be a selection of antipasto, salads, desserts, and daily and seasonal specials.  Everything on our menu will be either handmade in-house or sourced locally through our friends who have the same passion and commitment to the art of food as we do.  We will be local, sustainable and organic as much as possible  and we’ll be encouraging our friends to bring in their homegrown extra produce, eggs and anything else home farmed or caught for use in the restaurant.   The wine list will be an eclectic mix of California and Italian, and micro brews chosen to complement the food.  We'll be open for lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday with the same menu being offered throughout and a brunch menu on Saturday & Sunday.

Customers will want to come for their favorite pizzas, or our market specials of the day.  Almost everything will be cooked in the wood-fired oven.  We'll make all our mozzarella daily.  The dough is handmade daily in the traditional Neapolitan style and is certified by the “Verace Pizza Napoletana”.  Our flour is Italian “00” grind, and we use a natural strain of sourdough yeast from Sicily, which proofs the dough for 3-5 days.  We also offer our own outstanding gluten-free pizza dough and we will have many gluten free items on the menu.

Once a month we will host special events like “Farm to Table” night were we create a whole dinner around a local producer that sits down family style with diners and discusses their farms and products.  We'll also have "Vine to Table nights & "Guest Chef" nights. The interior will be hip, recycled, modern/rustic , and there will be outside heated patio, or you can always take out.  You will always be made to feel at home.

There will be plenty of other surprises too, but rest assured you will always find good, fresh food, prepared and served with love, care and pride.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Whew, what a day!  Great day!  Thanks for all your wonderful feedback on the blog!  I'm new to all this so it's taken me some time to figure out all the responses!  But I'm overwhelmed at the incredible response.  Thank you to all my angels out there spreading the word..... I've already been contacted by the upper echelon of the local food press!  Yes, you know who you are ; )

My awesome brother Sean Crowley, Sales Director for Paradigm winery put together a vertical tasting of Paradigm Cabernet at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant tonight.  Oh so yummy! And my good friends came along too.   Ren & Marilyn Harris the owners were on hand to answer questions.  I think they need the Beautiful People Award for 2012!  Seeing as Sean is putting my wine list together and he has just a few "ins" in the business, I'm hoping to finagle some Paradigm for our list!

God just keeps dispatching angels my way!  This one in the form of my mother who came through today with a little monetary gift.  More than little, she calls it a gift, I call it a loan.  I like being a good borrower cause you never know when you just may need to ask again.....

And more logo ideas!  But I'm so sleepy now and I've got an early morning meeting with my contractor.  Good night angels, sweet dreams.......


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Little Victories

So far each day there's more on my "to do list" then on my "to done list"!  I think that's only going to get worse!  Hahaha, but yesterday was a great day!

Got through a first hurdle with the building plans (which should be ready for submission by Friday!) with the CMSA, Central Marin Sanitation Agency.  Seems like a harmless, boring agency, they treat water right?  Well, they are the first to have to sign off on your plans, even before the health department gets to them.  So my contractor, Josh Klein and I went to see Rob Cole the man who is in charge of approving restaurant sanitation plans.  He has the power to say what kind of grease trap is installed in your restaurant (boring stuff for non-restaurateurs) and these days many counties are requiring large, extremely costly, in-ground interceptors.

Well, besides Mr. Cole sending a letter of approval for a simple grease trap application to the head of the health department planning before I even got back home, he was so informative!  Fascinating.  I learned so much about waste treatment and why its so important.  We take so much for granted, turn on the water, its there!  Flush it/pour it down the drain, its gone!  But everything goes to the bay and they have to clean up all our "s#*@" (pardon my french but its true) before it ruins our waters.  Its all a delicate eco-balance of chemistry and engineering.  One thing that shocked me was that they have several amazing school programs available were they'll go into the classrooms for the whole day and provide an amazing, interactive, scientific presentation on how the whole system works and why its important, pay for all the materials, and maybe 2 out of all the schools in Marin are taking advantage of it, the rest don't want to be bothered!  Wow, I thought our schools were hurting due to money, I think its due to complacency!

Then, I got 18 pages of logo ideas from Craig Clark my brothers best friend and graphic designer extraordinaire!  Its going to be so hard to pick!  I sent him an idea I had been all set on and just needed cleaning up, and WOW!  Now I'm thinking a whole new direction!  Deciding is going to be hard, but fun! There's stuff for pizza boxes and packaging, cards, logos, banners, menus, mats.....endless.  I love the little tag, "All the world needs is a little pizza".  Do you think it should say, "a little more pizza", or good pizza?


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Menu Testing

Ok, got the menu done. At least for now, and though I've had it done for several months I've changed the concept from daily specials to a daily changing menu.  My plan now is to have a set menu for the first month for training purposes, and then go to a daily menu based on what's fresh in the market.  I had to make some design changes to the menu to make it more readable and look good.  The best news is that my awesome brother got the wine list roughed out, so I've input his preliminary list into the menu.  I have to submit the menu and wine list as part of the ABC beer and wine application, which I hope to submit this week.  The hard part is I have to locate all residences within 100 ft and all schools, churches & parks within 600 ft.  Got to go down to the city planning department to get that info.  Everyday, lots to do!

Sorry ya'll, I'm holding back the menu until a little closer to opening.  I've got to keep your anticipation high.... but I have been recipe testing.  Seeing as most of my cooking is without a recipe (a little of this, pinch of that, splash & scoop) I have to transpose them into recipes and then multiple them out for production amounts.  Thank God Charles is home for the week, I've a guinea pig with a hollow leg!

So here's my recipe for Caesar dressing which is an old family favorite that actually came from back in the day before Star's, we used it at Santa Fe Bar & Grill and it probably came from Jeremiah Tower originally, or maybe Mark's days at Ernie's.  Mark always said the secret ingredient was a pinch of whole grain mustard.

1T fresh lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1 clove finally minced garlic
1/2 t whole grain mustard
4 anchovy filets finely minced
1 coddled egg yolk
whisk together until blended then slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify.  This should make enough dressing to cover a 3 pack of Romain Hearts and feed about 6 people.

Did you know Mussels are an extremely healthy food with a delicate taste?  They are high in protein & low in cholesterol & fat.

A 3 oz portion of cooked blue mussels contains 20g of protein and only 147 calories. It is rich in iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and vitamins C and B12.

Mussels are low in fat, containing 0.7g of saturated fat in a 3oz portion. They are, however an extremely rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent cardiovascular and heart disease, promotes healthy brain function, and a healthy body. Mussels contain higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than any other shellfish.

Mussels with garlic, fennel & chilies 
enough for 2
1 1/2 lbs mussels
2 T butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 shallot
1 c thinly sliced fennel bulb
2 sprigs thyme
1 dried cayenne chili
1/2 c white wine
salt & pepper to taste
Clean mussels. Saute shallots, fennel & garlic in butter till translucent, add wine, herbs and mussels. Cover & give a shake. Steam for 2-5 minutes or just until mussels open.  Salt & pepper to taste and plate into bowls, pouring the broth over.  Best served with some great crusty french bread, but I think I serve it with pizza bread!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thank God for Pizzeria Picco!

Flour everywhere!
So I've spent the last 2 days doing lots of paper work... filling out the forms for my beer & wine license, engineering proposals, talking with the Ross Valley Sewer District, San Anselmo Planning Department, sourcing equipment & tiles, lighting, artisans, going over equipment spec sheets, loan papers, and nothing ever goes as quickly as you think..... my head hurts.  

Thank God I got to make pizzas at Pizzeria Picco tonight! It feels so good to get my hands in the dough.  To be busy, to hear the sounds of people happily eating, sharing their day,  laughing.  Oh the joy a restaurant brings.  Ah yes, this is why I'm doing it.  I think I'm addicted to the excitement of it all.  The theater, the rush of working hard and watching the fruits of your labor bring such enjoyment.  Feeding people is a noble profession.  

Josh Klein, my contractor (thank you chef Bruce Hill) came in tonight with his beautiful wife and magical 1 year old daughter, Bevona.  They dined al fresco on a cold but beautiful spring evening, eating leisurely and bundled up.  So Italian!  I can't wait until he can come to my place and eat like that!  I wish I would've thought to take a picture of them looking so lovely, but we got slammed tonight and it was all I could do to keep up with the orders, another time.  Thank you Picco for nurturing me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Restaurant demolition

Demo on the interior 3/20/12
More before photos.... here's a couple of demolition photos.  We have a long way to go to get to the beautiful restaurant of my dreams.  Today I spent pulling all my samples and pictures for my finishes meeting tomorrow with my architect Bill Craig.  Great guy who is holding my hand through the whole process.  We've got to put the story boards together for all the finishes in the restaurant.  Floors, walls, cabinetry, bathrooms, bar counters and backs, color, feel, theme, all that.  This is the fun and exciting part
Bathroom needs TLC!
Also checking the equipment list from my kitchen designer extraordinaire, George Federighi.  Looks like there's equipment I'm going to have to source and buy myself.  More research, good thing I like doing research! 

Also have to start on my ABC license application.  Its going to take about 4 months I've been told to get my beer and wine license and the application is extensive.  Good thing I'm going to go sing with my choir tonight, I could use some uplifting!

Working plans!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome to my restaurant to be.....

Why is the first post so daunting?  But here she is, my restaurant to be.  The old Round Table Pizza in the Red Hill Shopping Center, San Anselmo, CA.  I said I would wait to do this blog until I signed a lease, and well, yesterday the final "i" was dotted and "t" crossed. Now it's full steam ahead.  So much has led me to this moment and I will get around to the whole story in time. Suffice it to say, it's been a long time coming. After 3 years of searching for the right location and 6 offers that fell through for one reason or another (ahhh, and we know how that works), I finally have a great lease, a great landlord and a fantastic location. 

So, after a big pow-wow with the landlord, his assistants, my architect & contractor yesterday, we are now finalizing all the build out specifics with the kitchen designer so they can put the entire set of plans together and submit to all the various agencies. OMG, too many to name! But then my check list is longer still! 

Last night I couldn't sleep, it was a mixture of excitement and fear, otherwise known as  anxiety! Its like an electrical current rushing through my veins. I'll need to learn to channel it for my good and schedule my time wisely, including rest!  I pray everyday for wisdom and guidance, courage, strength and peace, and that my little neighborhood pizzeria be a blessing to everyone who enters its doors.  

I envision a modern day watering hole, a place where friends and family can gather together and find joy in the act of eating together.  Where they will always find food and wines that are prepared by hand with love and care, and that are grown locally and organically as much as possible.  A place where people want to come back again and again because it feels like home.  Where the crackling logs in the wood-fired oven beckon with the aroma of rising yeast, tomato and bubbling cheese.  Where the sound of laughter fills the air and you can find sanctuary in the simple act of dining out.

So.... stay tuned for more. There will be before and after pictures, funny antidotes, hair pulling rants, praise, prayer & swearing (not necessarily in that order); recipes, invitations and special gifts.  Pass this post along to all your friends who will want to be in the loop and have them subscribe.  I welcome all comments, suggestions, feedback, encouragement (especially), brilliant ideas, pitfalls to lookout for.  See ya'll on opening day!