Even on stiflingly hot Sacramento summer afternoons, it’s not uncommon to find a line of hungry customers stretching down the sidewalk on 14th near O Street. After placing orders for a couple of slices of pizza buried under curling cups of pepperoni or a whole pie topped with Spam and pineapple, diners can take their food back to the office or gather around one of the tables nestled against a beige building at 1425 14th Street for a quick lunch. It’s been about four and half years since Pizza Supreme Being opened its swinging glass doors in the shadow of the California State Capitol. But thanks to the pandemic, it’s been mostly a takeout-only operation — until now.
By September, owner Ben Roberts says he’ll tear down the tape and paper covering the windows to the shop’s new space and, in his words, “start rocking.” Roberts, who cooked at some of the city’s finest restaurants including Michelin-starred the Kitchen before committing to the sourdough, 2-day-ferment pizza life, says he’s excited to get back into the in-person dining game. “I miss having people sit there,” he says, standing in the still-under-construction and very blue dining room. “I miss laughter and seeing first dates.”
Before fans get concerned: The shop isn’t moving. It’s just expanding its footprint to take over the former Zia’s Deli space next door at 1401 O Street. (The Davis location is still open, Roberts points out, in case anyone needs a fix.) The original Pizza Supreme Being space will remain open with the familiar takeout window serving customers on the go. But now diners will also have the option to wriggle into a nostalgia-inducing blue laminate booth and share a couple of slices and a bottle of natural wine on-site.
The extra space also means Roberts can expand the menu, so if you’ve been following the shop on Instagram and ogling some of the recent posts — for example, a vegan Caesar salad that uses faux fish sauce Roberts makes with tamari, dried porcinis, and nori or a brown butter M&M cookie — the good news is they should be a part of the regular offerings. There’s a fresh pasta station in the kitchen (Roberts is throwing around the excellent idea of making a dish inspired by Hamburger Helper) and a frozen yogurt machine spilling out vanilla and Dole Whip-style pineapple cones. “I want it to be fun and not overly bougie,” Roberts says.
He’s still sorting out a plan to bring on a chef to oversee the new kitchen, but the vision will stay true to what he’s been doing since the beginning: using seasonal and high-quality ingredients to make affordable and approachable food. Think a Chez Panisse approach to sourcing and technique meets a decidedly punk rock attitude. “I think everybody should have access to really good food,” Roberts says. “I don’t want people to take me too seriously or my pizza too seriously. When it comes down to it, you just want to have fun.”
It’s impossible to miss the irreverent spirit that underscores pretty much everything at Pizza Supreme Being. And it starts, naturally, with Roberts himself, who grew up in the small Northern California town of Grass Valley, where he played in a punk band and ate Tombstone frozen pies and Mountain Mike’s. He got into making pizza for family meal before being inspired to buy a massive, wood-fired, brick pizza oven to haul around town as a pop-up. After four years on the move, he settled into the 13-seat space on 14th Street in 2019, almost exactly a year before COVID-19 turned restaurant operations (and, well, pretty much everything) upside down.
Today, the shop is known for naturally leavened pizzas and topping combos that run the gamut from classic cheese or an elegant seasonal peach and Jimmy Nardello peppers number — to cheeky inventions like a pizza riffing on Jimboy’s crunchy and famously Parmesan-dusted tacos. On top of food, Roberts slings a line of limited-run merch items including bumper stickers, hats, and something called ranch dust. He also hosts collaborations with other well-loved Sacramento businesses; a recent okonomiyaki-style pizza made with Sacramento ramen shop Kodaiko sold out online within hours and drew a long line of customers hoping to snag a slice.
For Roberts, shining a spotlight on other local businesses isn’t so much a marketing strategy as an investment in the Sacramento community, an opportunity to create the kind of food scene he wants to see in the city of trees. “When I was younger in my career, there wasn’t an outlet for the underdogs,” he says adding that he’s now in the position to create that for other cooks, “and I still think of myself as an underdog.”
Keep an eye on the Pizza Supreme Being Instagram for updates about the official opening of the new space.