State of Mind Slice House
Lars and Andrew Smith grew up in the blocks surrounding their newest pizzeria at 3850 El Camino Real in Palo Alto's Barron Park neighborhood.
Lars Smith has fond memories of eating at the same space decades ago when it was still a Taco Bell. Their father Jim, who still lives in the neighborhood behind the restaurant, had always wanted to open a business there on what once was Palo Alto's "restaurant row." His father ran the El Camino Veterinary Hospital down the street for more than 50 years. Smith got his start making pies as a high schooler at Pizza My Heart (where he met his wife as well as State of Mind co-owner Amy Betz.)
"This is our stomping grounds," Smith said.
State of Mind Slice House opened for business on Monday, the owners' second act to the State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in downtown Los Altos. The newest restaurant is their ode to New York City slice shops, with their own West Coast stamp. As at their first pizzeria, all of the slow-proofed pizzas are made from organic California flour and topped with made-from-scratch sauces and ingredients like housemade chorizo, chevre, local vegetables and hot honey.
State of Mind fans will see familiar menu items, plus some pizzas that have gone on and off the Los Altos menu but will be permanent fixtures at the Slice House, like the "po-tay-to" with mozzarella, Point Reyes toma, bacon, potato, green onion and cream. All of the pizzas are baked in high-heat electric Cuppone ovens from Italy.
Although other local pizza shops have discontinued slices during the pandemic, the Slice House will remain true to concept and have as many as 15 pizza slices available when things are fully up and running. Several will be available in square slices or as whole pan pies — State of Mind's take on the "grandma pie" made famous by Umberto's on Long Island. State of Mind's version is thicker than Umberto's, Smith said, and has been refined over, "no exaggeration," hundreds of hours of tinkering. All whole pies can also be ordered as rectangular pan pizzas instead.
"We'll continue to chase the best pizza and the best product we can make," he said.
State of Mind Slice House also offers gluten-free pizzas, vegan cashew cream and plant-based Impossible Foods sausage. Unlike the Los Altos restaurant, there are no wings or burgers here; just pizzas and a few salads.
Like the arcade and pinball machines at State of Mind in Los Altos, Slice House's decor will pay homage to their upbringing in the 1980s and 1990s. Smith plans to install custom booths that look like '90s fast-food booths and an old-school vacuum-formed sign out front.
For dessert? Peak nostalgia with It's It ice cream sandwiches.
State of Mind Slice House is open for takeout only for now but the Smith patriarch is building tables for outdoor dining (which resumed in Santa Clara County the day the restaurant opened).
The pizzeria is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and taking orders online at stateofmindslicehouse.com.
Japanese wholesale foods from Kiyoi
Thanks to a pandemic pivot, you can now buy the same high-quality tuna, Hokkaido uni and wagyu beef served at some of the Bay Area's top sushi restaurants.
Before the coronavirus, Kiyoi, a family-run wholesale business in San Mateo, supplied restaurants throughout Northern California with primarily Japanese ingredients, including fresh seafood flown in twice a week from Tokyo's famed Toyosu Fish Market. Kiyoi's restaurant customers include the Michelin-starred Sushi Yoshizumi and Sushi Sam's Edomata in San Mateo and Ebisu, Wako and Omakase in San Francisco (the latter two have Michelin stars). The company also supplies Japanese markets like Mitsuwa Marketplace and Nijiya Market.
While Kiyoi's core business, restaurants, struggled to stay afloat last year, supermarket sales surged, co-owner Jeffrey Su said. So they leaned into the retail side of things and decided to start selling directly to consumers.
Su's parents started what he said was one of the area's first Asian wholesale companies after immigrating to San Mateo from Taiwan in the late 1970s. They realized most Chinese restaurants were purchasing ingredients from American companies that didn't speak their language or have specialty items. They started by selling canned goods out of their garage to local Chinese restaurants.
"My parents happened to find that niche market. They could speak the same language with all the incoming immigrants," Su said. "Our business was thriving."
In early 2013, his parents sold the business, but they didn't stay away for long. Su soon started Kiyoi with his mother Judy and one delivery driver, focusing on mostly Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area. Kiyoi now supplies more than 500 restaurants, from Sacramento to Monterey and as far inland as Modesto.
Because of Kiyoi's wholesale connections, they can break down products like 33 pounds of pork belly into smaller portions appropriate for home cooks. The company recently started selling 2-pound trays of Berkshire pork specifically geared toward customers making hot pot at home, Su said. They're also developing a production facility to process fresh bluefin tuna, salmon and specialty fish.
"For people that really care about food, it really comes down to the ingredients. We try to make sure we offer the best ingredients," Su said.
Su saihe's looking for new ways to support restaurants during this time, such as potentially converting the company's San Mateo headquarters into a food delivery and pickup hub that could expand their delivery range.
"This pandemic forced us out of our comfort zone and forced us to change," he said.
Kiyoi delivers to the 650, 415, 510 and 408 area codes, or customers can pick up their orders between noon and 6 p.m. at 1222 South Amphlett Blvd., San Mateo. Orders placed before 11 a.m. can be picked up the same day. More information is at gokiyoi.com.
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