Posted on May 22, 2012 by Matt Crawford, via SanJose.com
Bare Knuckle Pizza
Mobile Artisanal Pizza
People can’t seem to get enough of artisanal pizzas, and the number of South Bay options continue to grow. Bare Knuckle Pizza is the latest provider of wood-fired pizzas topped with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
After a successful fundraising effort on Kickstarter, raising double his $5,000 goal, owner Viet Nguyen is making the rounds in Cambrian Park, Willow Glen and Japantown with his mobile pizza often. He recently told us about the project, what makes the perfect pizza and why New York is king of pizza pies.
What brought you to San Jose?
Actually, I moved to Oakland in 2002 and I’ve been back and forth from Indiana to LA, then back to the Bay. I just started teaching at a small community college this past semester, and my lovely fiance and her family are from the South Bay.
Tell us about your trips to Brooklyn. What inspired you at what you call the “Mecca” of Neapolitan pies?
In the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit New York where I’ve had the chance to eat at a lot of pizzerias out in Brooklyn. As a pizza enthusiast, I’ve always heard stories how New York was a hotbed for good pizza pies. I would eat at places like Grimaldi’s and Pauly G’s. New Yorkers and Brooklynites really dig good pizza, and what I appreciate most is how pizza makers really hone in on the craft of creating the perfect crust.
What inspired you to launch this project?
I’ve always enjoyed eating and making good food, whether it’s making a nice pot of pho, recreating the amazing Boiling Crab sauce, throwing down on a steak burger or perfecting my pizza. I’ve always had a love for food and I’ve always wanted to start up my own shop/eatery. By launching the Kickstarter project, it allowed me to finally pursue my dreams.
What makes the perfect pizza?
It’s all about the dough. I would let you in on the details but that’s top secret, not even my family knows! The crust is crucial in making a perfect pizza. Without that, you might as well just pick up a box of frozen Totino’s from the store.
What’s the most unusual topping you have used?
My future father-in-law, who’s Vietnamese American, suggested that I use some lạp xưởng (Vietnamese sausage) on my pies. I tried it, but I think it’s gonna have to stay on traditional steam buns and sticky rice.
What’s your favorite Bay Area pizza outside of your own?
My favorite NYC slice pizza is Arinell’s in Berkeley. Also, I like Golden Boy Pizza in SF for their pan-style crust. Lastly, you can’t beat a slice of Arizmendi’s in Oakland either…That sourdough crust is delicious.
You overwhelmingly met your Kickstarter goal of $5,000. What’s next?
Yes, the online crowd-funding support has been awesome. Our next steps are to reach out and try to become established and have a brick and mortar one day. By offering a mobile pizza cart, we want to serve the community so that they can have a chance to eat locally made Neapolitan pies from scratch.
Where and when can we find you?
Currently, we’ll be set up at the Cambrian Park (Wednesday), Willow Glen (Saturday), and Japantown (Sunday) farmer’s markets. Also, we can cater any party or event.
If you could sit down with anyone living or dead and share a pizza, who would it be?
My wife Christine Bội Quỳnh Ngô. She’s been the one who’s inspired me to pursue my dreams and ambitions. She’s been my foundation and support throughout this whole thing. And, we enjoy eating great pizza together!
For more information, visit Bare Knuckle Pizza online at www.bareknucklepizza.com or call (510) 463-1524.
Or visit their shop at 351 12th Street in downtown Oakland.