If you’ve ever wanted to perfect pizza-making at home, now’s your chance.
Join me at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara when I host a cooking demo with Chef Howard Bulka of Howie’s Artisan Pizza in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.
Bulka, who left the world of fine-dining to research the fine points of pizza making, will show you how to create a superb dough using a starter that will add so much more flavor to your crust.
Meatballs at Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria in Palo Alto.
Howard Bulka is one of those chefs who will get fixated on something, then research and tweak it to death until it’s just right.
Such was the case when he decided to trade decades of preparing fancy, fine-dining, prixe-fixe menus for pizza instead.
Howie’s Artisan Pizza opened in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village four years ago. Crowds have been lining up ever since for the pizzas, constructed with a bread flour-dough, which takes two days to mix and proof before being turned into pies that are baked in a gas-fired brick oven at 600 degrees for 5-6 minutes.
These are multi-dimensional crusts with puffy edges of air holes that provide chew and crunch, and centers that get thinner and crisper.
The whimsical art work on the walls.
The dining room.
Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. We started with the Chinese Chicken Salad ($10). The generous-sized salad is more than enough for two to share. A mountain of chopped romaine is tossed with cucumber, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, chicken chunks, crispy won ton strips and a creamy, mustardy dressing. It’s almost like an Asian version of a chopped salad.
Huckleberry sorbetto at Campo 185.
Months ago on a lark, just because I happened to be wandering through downtown Palo Alto on a chilly afternoon, I stopped into Campo Pizzeria to grab something warm for lunch.
At the time, the name of the restaurant included the word “pizzeria.” Back then, the kitchen was also headed up by Chef Sean O’Brien, formerly of Myth, Gary Danko and Zinnia, all in San Francisco. I remember the pizzetta dough as quite crisp and the cup of minestrone truly impressive in the way it maintained the integrity of each and every vegetable.
Fast forward to earlier this month, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. Now christened Campo 185, in reference to its address on University Avenue, the “pizzeria” moniker had been jettisoned, though pizzas are still on the menu. What’s more, a new chef now runs the place — Robert Holt, former executive chef of Marzano in Oakland.