The Pizza Hacker's Midas Touch
Pizza whiz Jeff Krupman is a no frills, humble guy, but his Neapolitan-style pies are total showpieces. Blistered chewy crust, willowy fresh mozzarella, and a burst of hand-picked herbs—you'll be shocked to know he's making these beauts out of a cafe countertop oven.
Krupman calls himself The Pizza Hacker because his namesake pies were first made on a Weber grill he hacked up to build his own makeshift oven: a "FrankenWeber," part BBQ, clay and wood. On it, he can cook a pizza in one minute.
Each one has a near-perfect balance of dough—rooted in the naturally leavened, character-building Tartine method—hand-picked Early Girl tomatoes, super creamy buffalo mozzarella, with the lightest drizzle of Bariani olive oil added on the path from the oven to your mouth. Depending on the toppings, most pies get a scatter of fresh basil or oregano too.
The Pizza Hacker, it so happens, has been perfecting the art of pizza like this since 1994—long before Anthony Mangieri, Tony Gemignani or any other pizzaiolo guy named Tony started selling pies in this town. Remarkably, he's making pizzas that parallel both of the Tonys' creations out of his own bespoke oven, which—I'm going to remind you—is neither state-of-the-art nor imported from Italy. His followers were devastated when a Department of Heatlh cease and desist letter ended his longest run to date on the sidewalk outside Bloodhound in SoMa.
Thankfully, Krupman has started popping up again inside Vinyl and Dear Mom in sporadic bursts. (Track his every move on Twitter @PizzaHacker.) The dough is a touch thicker without the FrankenWeber, but the depth of flavor and character is still good enough that it compelled me to eat an entire Margherita by myself on a recent visit. Even the crust is irresistible. Later, I found out Krupman takes extra care to season each pizza's edge with sea salt. "I don't like to see it in the trash," he says.
Test it out tonight, when The Pizza Hacker flips pies from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at Vinyl over in the Lower Haight. I bet you won't see any crust going to waste. And if you're into pizza, I suggest you go, because there's no telling for sure if he'll be back in a week's time.