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Bakeria 1010 is a must-try for pizza aficionados
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Bakeria 1010 is a must-try for pizza aficionados

Long before Bakeria 1010, those in the know knew Mike Fitzick was a mad scientist when it came to his pizza-making skills.

The Margate resident and Mainland Regional High School grad became known locally as “The Pizza Jew” as he would wow pizza — and dough — connoisseurs with his unbelievable creations that used the best ingredients in innovative flavor combinations on his homemade dough that is a constant work in progress.

Fitzick’s legendary pop-ups in places like The Iron Room in Atlantic City and Steve & Cookie’s in Margate would always elicit the same question: “When are you going to open your own place?”

That has finally happened as the 34-year-old pizza perfectionist and his wife Maura are creating a buzz on the mainland in Linwood’s The Exchange at Bakeria 1010, Fitzick’s first private business venture that puts his creations front and center for everyone to enjoy … if you place your order early enough. Yes, they sell out regularly.

The name of the game at Bakeria 1010 is square pizza that is light and airy like focaccia yet crispy and cheesy with an innovative crust that features crispy cheese that somehow towers above the dough.

Look at the photos … my words just can’t do it justice.

“I always had this square thing on my mind because, frankly, Neapolitan pizza — which I still make sometimes — was boring me,” Fitzick says. “But, in the end, this has really worked out because the pizza really holds up. You can drive this to Philadelphia and it will still be good. The Neapolitans just don’t hold up for delivery. You take it home, and while it might not be terrible, it’s not what it was or what it was intended to be. These square pizzas hold up over time. I bring slices home on Sunday night and throw one in the oven for dinner and think, ‘Jesus, everyone must do this.’ It’s still pretty awesome.”

“Awesome” also does not do the pizza justice. “Special” is more like it. And in many ways, it is special.

For starters, all of the dough used at Bakeria 1010 — from the pizza to the panini bread to the focaccia — uses sourdough that Fitzick smuggled from Naples, Italy, where his wife is from.

“Two years ago, I took some Italian tap water and flour and harvested the enzymes and froze it on paper,” Fitzick says. “I then took it home on a 12-hour flight and brought it back to life. And that’s the basis of everything at the bakery. It’s not nefarious to smuggle sourdough across borders but it’s not exactly legal to transport active cultures.”

Fitzick says some will argue that the sourdough he smuggled is better than what someone could create right here, but it definitely guarantees that it is different and of high quality.

“No one uses this in their pizza dough around here,” he says. “Around here, people use water, flour and yeast and stir it up and that’s it.”

Bakeria 1010’s square pizza can be had by the slice, by the half pie or a whole, ranging from about $4 a slice to $34 for a whole, which consists of eight giant square slices.

Another way Bakeria 1010 is “special” is its ingredients. Everything — and I mean everything — is curated specifically for Fitzick’s creations, whether it’s the cheese from the best cheese supplier Fitzick could find in New York to vegetables from local farms to charcuterie imported from Italy.

Pizza ranges from the simple margherita with quality San Marzano tomatoes, fior de latte — semi-soft, fresh cheese made in the style of Italian mozzarella — basil, Parmiggiano Reggiano and extra virgin olive oil to the downright mind-blowing, like the Mortadella with fior di latte, pistachio pesto, mortadella, whipped ricotta and pistachio grains.

The best way to experience Bakeria 1010’s pizza for the first time is to get a Pizzaiolo Surprise, where Fitzick separates a whole pie into four sections with four different flavor profiles. A recent pie we tasted had more than 25 ingredients in styles including the Speck with smoked mozzarella, crispy speck, golden potatoes and cracked pepper; the Salsiccia with fior di latte, sweet sausage, fried peppers, Gaeta olives and EVOO; one of the best pepperoni pies you will ever have with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, ron cups, Pecorino Romano and oregano; and the Funghi with fior di latte, wild mushroom medley, caramelized onions, gruyere and herbs.

“When I was doing pizza mercenary work …” says Fitzick, referring to when he worked as a pizza consultant for different restaurants and also did demonstrations for food companies demonstrating his pizza techniques “I worked for places who paid me to find them the good stuff. So I used those jobs to do personal research for what I would eventually use here at the bakery. But my insistence on using only the best ingredients came from back when I was just a pizza delivery guy. I would be making $250 a day and would have to do little odd jobs like cut cheese. So you get in there and it’s morning and you’re hungry and you cut cheese and you start eating it. And I remember then when I would taste the good stuff and immediately notice when I would taste the stuff that was not so good because it was lesser quality. And I vowed right then to always use the good stuff. It was in the back of my head that if I ever opened my own place, I would never use the lesser brands. And over time, I would make mental notes and then eventually real notes about what was good and what was bad. Doing research can be very expensive. Luckily I was able to use other people’s dollars to find out what would make my products great.”

That includes cheese products from Greenwich Village, San Marzano tomatoes and charcuterie from Italy, and even pumpkin that he recently used for a fall-inspired creation from a local farm.

Bakeria 1010 is not all about pizza. In fact, the original concept was a bakery with a secret pizzeria inside of it. But that concept was turned upside down as Bakeria is a pizzeria with a secret bakery inside of it featuring an amazing array of breads and other creations that Fitzick comes up with on a daily basis. He recently made bagels and had a burger pop-up. You never know what he might make on any given day.

But you will always find his sourdough breads that he uses to make his panini ($8 to $10) including Parma with Prosciutto di Parma, fior di latte, arugula and Parmiggiano Reggiano; Mortadella with Italian provolone and Romaine lettuce; Vegetali with fresh mozzarella and seasonal veggies; and Sfizioso with Italian ham, white cheddar, Romaine and tomatoes.

You will also find the bakery’s famous cheesy bread stick dippers; Montanaras, which are little fried pizzas topped with San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte and basil; and Angiolettis, fried pizza sticks topped with Nutella and powdered sugar.

Fitzick’s stuffed pizzas — or Pizza Ripiena — are also worth checking out, including his sourdough pizza filled with Italian ham, fior di latte and tomatoes completely enclosed in a buttery pastry.

If all of this sounds like the creations of a mad scientist … they are. Fitzick can be found at Bakeria 1010 early in the morning making all of the dough himself. Just the fact that he makes bread in pizza ovens is a crazy accomplishment in an environment that is anything but temperature controlled.

“It was really a nightmare figuring out these ovens and bread,” Fitzick says with a laugh. “Bread ovens have steam injection. Pizza ovens are the opposite — they pull away moisture. So in the morning you will see me with my pump sprayer spraying down the ovens with Margate tap water. This is some Frankenstein s—t. We are making stuff in there we shouldn’t be.”

As for the future, Fitzick has plenty of ideas, including a wood-fired concept with Neapolitan-style pizza and other dishes in a white tablecloth and silverware setting, as well as a blast to the past with a 90s-style arcade pizzeria using all high-quality ingredients … ideas for a post-COVID world.

For now, he’s happy with Bakeria 1010 as he keeps pushing himself creatively every day.

“I opened this place on my birthday — Nov. 28 — so don’t be surprised if you come here this Nov. 28 and see something different than what we are doing right now. When winter starts hitting, you have more time to experiment and make sure you don’t become complacent. The sourdough bread I made this morning is completely different than the sourdough recipe I used a month ago because of the changes in weather. I enjoy those challenges.”

And so do we.

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