That’s A Some Pizza on Bainbridge Island Wins Prestigious Caputo Cup
Using 120-year-old sourdough starter—the oldest in the PacNW—
restaurant is now home to the Best Pizza in the U.S.
The best pizza in the United States can be found on Bainbridge Island, Washington, being served out of an unassuming 500-square-foot restaurant called That’s A Some Pizza, where every bite is a slice of history.
In October, That’s A Some Pizza’s owner and operator, Will Grant, and his assistant manager, Allen Raymond, competed in the prestigious Caputo Cup. The oldest and most renowned pizza competition in Naples, Italy—the birth place of pizza—The 2017 Caputo Cup was held for only the third time in the United States. The event draws the best-of-the-best in the pizza-making world, including celebrity chefs and renowned Pizzaiolos.
Grant took first place among 40 competing chefs in the Non-Traditional category with his Gorgonzola Vegetarian, a triumph of pine nuts, feta cheese, mushrooms, and red onions over a Gorgonzola sauce. Raymond came in second in the Traditional category with the restaurant’s Pepperoni & Onion.
Even though That’s A Some Pizza opened 33 years ago on Bainbridge Island, the secret to its success has been going strong for well over a century. For its crust, the restaurant uses a sourdough starter that dates back to the Alaskan Yukon more than 120 years ago, making it the oldest sourdough starter in use commercially in the Pacific Northwest.
“Back in (the late 1800s), explorers to the Yukon had to have enough food to last at least a year. Sourdough starter was perfect for that. You feed it and it keeps going,” said Grant. The only starter older on the west coast is from a bakery in San Francisco; using established sourdough starter for pizza is fairly unique to That’s A Some.
The starter came to That’s A Some Pizza by way of the great-grandfather of Phil Houseman, who, along with Grant’s parents, Lee and Marti, started the restaurant in 1984. One of Grant’s earliest memories was of his parents using the starter in impromptu pizza-making contests with their friends. From there, a business was born.
Grant was practically destined to win The Caputo Cup having worked in the family business from the time he was eight. By 10, he was apprenticing under five different chefs. Reaching his late teens, he had already helped to open 11 restaurants, including That’s A Some Italian in Poulsbo. Eager to learn more, Grant left the family business for a few years, running locations of major chains like Red Robin and Bertucci’s, and working alongside master chefs, including Wolfgang Puck.
After Grant came back to That’s A Some, he trained at the International School of Pizza in San Francisco alongside his idol, Tony Gemignani, the 12-time World Pizza champion and two-time Food Network gold medalist. Under Gemignani, Grant became a certified Pizzaiolo—one of the few Master Pizza Chefs in Washington state and the only in Kitsap County—as he refined the technique used in making That’s A Some Pizza’s crust.
“Working with Gemignani, I was able to push the boundaries in how we used our (sourdough) starter. It made me see that, with a few changes, we were able to go from a crust that was like a bagel to one that was light and airy like a baguette,” said Grant.
It was Gemignani—in part, because he was impressed by Grant’s use of that 120-year-old starter—who encouraged Grant and That’s A Some to begin competing.
“I wasn’t expecting much (at The Caputo Cup) because it was my first time,” said Grant. “Pizzas would go behind the curtain where the judges were and then come out with a few pieces left. Mine (the Gorgonzola Vegetarian) went behind the curtain and didn’t come back out. I thought, ‘Oh no. What does that mean?’”
A big win, it turns out, and the first for a pizza chef from the Pacific Northwest. In addition, That’s A Some’s sourdough starter has garnered the attention of the The Puratos World Heritage Sourdough Library in Belgium. This unique collection aims to record and preserve sourdough history by storing major starters in one vault.
Along with That’s A Some Pizza’s recent recognition, Grant sees a welcome shift in how people are beginning to think of pizza—the comfort food, as we’ve known it in the U.S., is growing up.
“There’s an art to making pizza that hasn’t, until recently, been appreciated by many outside the industry. There’s a heart and soul that goes into it,” said Grant. “For me, pizza has always been about culture—the culture of the dough and the culture of the business. It’s never been about money, but, rather, about taking care of the culture and making the pizza and the business the best I can. That’s my family’s legacy.”
That’s A Some Pizza is located at 488 Winslow Way E. on Bainbridge Island, just down the street from the ferry to Seattle.
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