.Todd Parker’s Bookie’s Pizza is Next Level

Former Bad Animal and Manresa chef is serving up game-changing pizza at Sante Adairius

After Pizza My Heart slices, wild boar sausage pizza at Le Busola in Florence, the thin biancas in Rome, Pizzaria Avanti, Bantam and Mentone, I thought I knew pizza. But nope, Todd Parker over at Sante Adairius—whipping up miracles in his in-house pie palace Bookie’s Pizza—has shown me a whole new world of pizza. Thick, fresh from the oven, topped with imaginative flavors that only Parker can conjure, this was world-changing, almost uncategorizable pizza. Before I get to that, let’s admire Parker’s Caesar salad ($12). Utterly sexy and light as a feather, the tiers of flavor permeated every forkful. It’s made with kale and chicories, so instead of plain vanilla romaine versions (good on crunch, negative on flavor), you get a tang from the start. Feathered into a chiffonade of micro-ribbons, the chicories and kale have been tossed into another dimension. The dressing is addictive—salty, sour, sweet and refreshing rather than overwhelming. The basic anchovy, lemon and olive oil dressing has been pushed further with Parker’s use of black garlic, preserved lemon and fish sauce. All this thick lusciousness is topped with tiny croutons “made from our pizza dough,” Parker revealed, “fried in butter and olive oil, finished with grated parmesan.” I could eat this salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Definitely a handful, Bookie’s pizza is too thick to actually cut neatly with a standard knife. It has to be torn and grabbed with both hands before eating. Fabulous, custom-cooked, inventive flavors. We wolfed down half of the mushroom and nettle pie ($24), decorated with a gossamer grating of parmesan, plus slices of preserved lemon and tiny purple (agapanthus?) flowers. The order gives you and a hungry partner more than enough to consume with one of the outstanding seasonal house ales. I went for a half-pint Fairy Ring IPA ($5), a burnished caramel brew that romanced the pizza exactly as Parker intended.

The high key flavors of his cooking—ablaze with locally sourced, organic and foraged ingredients and the economical brilliance of his flavor pairings—make me want this chef to ultimately unwind fully in his own kitchen. His Manresa and Bad Animal background in fine dining stylings inflects every dish he makes at this high-octane ale house. Bookie’s Pizza pies are made to partner with fine beers. So get on over to Sante Adairius for serious flavors (in food and brews) in a seriously welcoming spot.

Bookie’s Pizza (inside Sante Adairius) 1315 Water St., Santa Cruz. noon-9pm; Friday and Saturday, noon-10pm. bookiespizza.com.

’STOCK MARKET

Rootstock Santa Cruz, an afternoon celebrating local wines at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, is where you need to be on Saturday November 5. The afternoon starts at 1pm with an in-depth panel presentation about regional terroir and winemaking craft featuring guest vintners and key players in Santa Cruz Mountain winemaking. Moderated by John Locke of Birichino, the panel includes John Bargetto (Bargetto Winery), Barry Jackson (Equinox Winery), Prudy Foxx (Foxx Viticulture), Jeffrey Patterson (Mount Eden Vineyards), David Amadia (Ridge Vineyards), Jeff Emery (Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard). The discussion will be followed by a grand tasting at 2:30pm, with participating wineries ranging from Aptos Vineyard and Bonny Doon Vineyard to Ridge Vineyards and Storrs Winery, with a dozen others, as well. A rare and wide-ranging tasting occasion, deepened by the opening panel by winemaker experts, the tickets for history panel, private samplings and tasting are $150. Tasting alone is $75. A commemorative wine glass comes with every ticket, and all proceeds benefit the ongoing work of MAH. You can never know enough about our exceptional locally made wines, and believe me, you can never enjoy enough samplings across our many wineries. 

For details and tickets, visit santacruzmah.org/rootstock.

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