Before this year, hoagie rolls weren’t all that high on the Bay Area’s collective priority list. Sure, the city has plenty of other bread to brag about — for example, San Francisco’s legendary sourdough and crackly Dutch crunch, which was not invented here but has nevertheless become a local staple. But this summer, one bread has risen to prominence: the hoagie roll from Rize Up Bakery.
It’s recently cropped up at popular sandwich spots such as Palm City Wines in the Outer Sunset, as well as at top restaurants including Outta Sight Pizza, Long Bridge Pizza Company, and Flour + Water Pasta Shop. Pop-ups such as Hot Chicken Brothers and Chicken Dog Bagels are using it, too. In short: The sesame seed-laden roll has become the city’s go-to bread for sandwiches of all sorts — for soaking up marinara-sauced chicken parms, supporting meaty porchetta sandwiches, and encasing fat stacks of cheese steak fillings.
It’s quite a feat for baker and Rize Up Bakery owner Azikiwee Anderson. The rolls started as a collaboration with Square Pie Guys owner Marc Schechter, who tapped Anderson to develop a recipe for a limited-run of fried chicken sandwich shop Hetchy’s Hot this May. The two went back and forth on flavor and texture, and Anderson consulted recipes and other hoagie aficionados. What they landed on was a roll made with garlic-infused oil and rolled in sesame seeds for a nutty flavor and added texture. For Schechter and Anderson, it embodied the ideal sandwich bread with a crunchy, crusted exterior that yields to a soft, open-crumbed interior, perfect for maximum sauce infusion.
But since May, the roll has spread throughout San Francisco restaurants. Palm City co-owner Dennis Cantwell was looking to change up the bread for the restaurant’s popular sandwiches so he reached out to Anderson. Eager to work with the nationally recognized sandwich destination, Anderson asked Cantwell about his benchmark Philly hoagie spots, as well as some new-school favorites. Cantwell, who’s originally from Philadephia, pointed to Sarcone’s Bakery and Angelo’s Pizzeria, and when Anderson came back with some options, Rize Up became the new hoagie roll-maker for Palm City. Whereas Cantwell says the shop simply made do with their previous hoagie rolls, now the bread is specifically designed for Palm City. “He just hit it out of the park,” Cantwell says. “They’re perfect. They’re the crunchy texture that you look for, loads of sesame seeds, it holds up well, with good integrity. And they’re super, super consistent, which is the best part about it.”
WesBurger owner Wes Rowe also praises the quality of Rize Up’s hoagie rolls. Although burgers are the name of the game at Rowe’s restaurant, he says he’s been looking to add sandwiches to the lunch menu. Through friends in food, he arrived at trying Rize Up Bakery and after some initial trials, Rowe also has nothing but kind words to share about the bread and Anderson. Like with the other restaurant clients, Anderson has offered to customize rolls for WesBurger, which Rowe appreciates. “He’s new, up and coming, and willing to adjust his business to anything,” Rowe says, “So that’s fun to work with.” The WesBurger team has been smoking turkeys and will work the hoagie rolls into the sandwich line. The full new lunch menu is still in development — Rowe would only commit to “soon” for a start date — but he’s already looking forward to launching. “I couldn’t offer a better product than that in San Francisco right now,” Rowe says.