October 20, 2018

The pharaohs of pizza: Manhattan Beach restaurant takes on matzah pizza

Running out of ideas on how to use left-over matzah? How about a matzah pizza? In the past you probably baked matzah pizza at home. You spread the cheese and sauce on your matzah and you threw it in the oven.

But now, someone can do it all for you. Fresh Brothers pizza is offering an opportunity for Jews to eat Italian out for once during Passover.

During Passover “Aren’t we always looking for something to use matzah with?” said Fresh Brothers pizza founder and CEO Adam Goldberg, who with his brothers helps operate the small chain, which serves his family’s rendition of the traditional Passover classic.

On a crisp spring day, I headed down to the Manhattan Beach location and discovered the feast for myself. As I walked through the door, the smell of pizza hit me, and on this Passover day, I realized I need a piece.

“We have six stores in areas with considerable Jewish Communities,” said Adam Goldberg. “The service aspect of making the pizza is that we are giving people a place to go and eat out, during a time when Jews normally don’t,” he added.

As I sat down, I noticed the promotion for the matzah pizza. Every napkin-holder had a colorful ad with the phrase: “Lotsa Matzoh”, with an image of a matzah pizza. It was refreshing to see Passover and Jewish food culture on colorful display. In a Hallmark world full of holiday branding and over-saturation, Adam and his Brothers’ marketing strategy nuanced a non-kosher pizza joint into a joyful Passover celebration.

The unusual idea of eating out during Passover stirred me to try his rendition. I wanted to find out what was different about his take on matzah pizza. 

“We use a part skim milk cheese, which isn’t greasy and yet very moist”, said Goldberg.

After my first bite, I noticed the difference the cheese made. Also, the matzah had a nice firmness to it and featured charred edges, which left an enjoyable tempered smokiness while playing off by the moist cheese.

Who makes up the market for matzah pizza shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“You can’t identify who is a Jew is, but you can when they order a matzah pizza this week,” said Goldberg.

Yes, it probably was sacrilegious to eat in a Non-Kosher restaurant during Passover, but we live in a different world now. Jews’ ideological views about kashrut stretch beyond our traditional reform, conservative or orthodox conceptions of food. For the average Jew, who’s Passover dinning out habits include removing grilled meat off a tortilla or ordering a sandwich with bread on the side, having a prepared dish with matzah can be as welcoming as any comfort food.

Think about making matzah pizza at home? Here’s a family recipe with a new age Neapolitan twist that will leave you asking for more.

Neapolitan Matzah Pizza

1. In a frying pan, brown onions until they caramelize.

2. Apply pizza sauce to matzah. Spread pizza sauce evenly over matzah. 

3. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over pizza. Bake in oven at 400 degrees. Watch carefully, when pizza is done, the cheese will be melted and bubbly.

4. When done cooking, remove from oven and apply arugula