San Diego native Matthew Lyons debuted his new one-man pop-up, Tribute Pizza, at a small event at the Coffee & Tea Collective earlier this month.
A former manager of MIHO Gastrotruck, Lyons has been perfecting his pizza-making skills for ten years; it begins with a naturally fermented dough, a process that take seven days. The result is a crust with good structure and a nice rise, with a slightly sourdough tang and edges that have a crackly chew; Lyons calls it "Neo-Neapolitan". His pizzas bake for three to four minutes in a petite, portable 110 volt oven that heats up to 750 degrees.
On the menu for the soft launch were four pies and a tiramisu made with Coffee & Tea Collective's espresso and Ballast Point's Three Sheets white rum. Tribute Pizza sources their ingredients locally, but their inspiration comes from far and wide. One, topped with rosemary, pecorino, red onion and white and black sesame seeds and roasted pistachio oil, is an homage to the Rosa at Phoenix's famed Pizzeria Bianco, and Lyons' Spring pizza with fresh mozzarella, butter-braised asparagus, red onion, and pepper-infued olive oil was an admired pie on the menu at Gioja in San Francisco.
His next pizza performance is this Monday, April 1 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. (or until he's out of dough) at City Heights' Black Cat Bar. On the menu this time around are three kinds of calzones, each filled with mozzarella, ricotta and pecorino romano. One rendition adds spinach and artichoke hearts, another incorporates five kinds of sauteed mushrooms and green olives; a meat version has house made lamb sausage, roasted sweet onions and peppers. All are served with warm marinara sauce made with organic CA-grown tomatoes canned by one of his pizza idols, Chris Bianco of the aforementioned Pizzeria Bianco; $1 from each calzone sold is donated to a different charitable organization.
He can fit eight generously-sized calzones fit inside his oven, as opposed to just two individual pizzas, so Lyons is currently scouring Craigslist to find another mobile oven to add to his arsenal and increase his cooking capacity. In the meantime, he'll continue to do regular pop-up's, catered events and hopes to eventually start delivery service and perhaps even find a permanent brick and mortar location where he can bake up his edible tributes.
· Tribute Pizza [Official Site]
· All Pop-Up Coverage on Eater [~ESD~]