Lodge Bread founder Or Amsalam and Alex Phaneuf see a future in New York City-style pizza, with plans announced earlier this year to open two new locations of Full Proof Pizza in Beverly Hills and Brentwood, respectively. Beverly Hills is slated to open at 371 S. Doheny Drive, and in Brentwood at 145 S. Barrington Avenue. Armed with an 80s-inspired decor and design language, Full Proof has been steadily drawing attention at Lodge Bread in Culver City in the evenings. Eater spoke with Amsalam to get some details on his and Phaneuf’s growing carbohydrate empire, and getting details on a more complete Full Proof Pizza location in Beverly Hills, which should open before the end of the year, as well as the full-service Brentwood outlet.
When Lodge Bread opened in 2015, it marked a time when Angelenos were growing their interest in artisan, sourdough bread. Since then, numerous bakeries like Bub and Grandma’s, Clark Street, Gjusta, Friends and Family, Gusto, and Colossus have brought more naturally-fermented bread across the city. Full Proof Pizza started out with the idea of producing naturally-fermented New York City pies.
Most of the time, New York City-style pizza uses fresh commercial yeast due to its consistency and performance, but Amsalam and Phaneuf developed a recipe for large format New York City pies with a fully natural, sourdough yeast. Using a blend of Type 85 malted flour, plus some lighter flours, the results are a sturdy, wide pie that can stand up to plenty of toppings and have that typical almost crispy crust. Taking a taste of Full Proof Pizza, the crust isn’t just a plain white flour dough. It’s got complexity from a long natural fermentation, and a nuttier, more delicious crust. It’s not quite a whole grain dough, but there’s certainly a blend of some grains in the dough. There are days when they’ll have to chuck out batches because natural fermentation simply doesn’t work as consistently as commercial yeast. But that’s just the process of doing Full Proof Pizza.
New York City-style pizza has existed plenty across LA, with Mulberry Street, Vito’s, and Joe’s baking wide, thin pies for years. However, Superfine, Prime, Little Coyote, Danny Boy’s, U Street, LBK, and Full Proof have shown that there’s room in the category to serve more contemporary New York City-style pizza.
Full Proof is leaning heavily on childhood nostalgia to help propel its popularity. “We want customers to enjoy their experience as much as possible because it’s based on nostalgia. We’ll do our best to accommodate anyone,” says Amsalam, who boasts that diners can split their pizzas with two different arrays of toppings, something one would expect at a chain, delivery-type spot but not at a more artisanal place. For prices that are often well below $30 for a fully-loaded pizza, and portions that could feed three or four with just one pie, there’s certainly a value proposition to go along with Full Proof’s offerings.
On the pricing front, Amsalam believes with a more vegetable-focused topping set, and quality ingredients like Grande cheese, there’s trying their best to provide value but still maintaining profitability that makes sense for the organization. One thing that helps operations is having a full commissary in Inglewood that produces all the dough for Lodge, Full Proof Pizza, and even their hummusiya Hasiba, which uses freshly-made pita. Having a high-capacity commissary allows Lodge and Full Proof to eventually seek out further expansion, and Amsalam says they generally like to get second-generation spaces for Full Proof (the Beverly Hills spot used to be a Domino’s). Already Lodge Bread is looking toward a full bakery location in Long Beach slated to open next year. Lodge also expanded to Woodland Hills back in 2017.
One new feature for the upcoming Beverly Hills and Brentwood locations is pizza by the slice. The thinking here was to make the pizza more accessible, especially with the Brentwood location nearby a school. Currently there’s only whole pies at the Culver City Full Proof, which serves Wednesday to Sunday. However, Beverly Hills and Brentwood will be open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The Brentwood spot will be more full service, with beer and wine, though Beverly hills will just have takeout, delivery, and limited indoor dining.
Finally, the ambience at the new spots will reflect a throwback to 1980’s pop culture. “It’ll remind you of Stranger Things or TRON if you step inside,” says Amsalam, who says they’ll even have pin ball machines like pizza joints of yesteryear. Carb-loving Angelenos can rest assured the Full Proof Pizza and Lodge team are doing everything to promote more consumption of delicious quality pizza and bread in Los Angeles.