A few months back I was out for a bike ride and ended up at the Bar Leucadian, one of my favorite local watering holes. The Leucadian, O’Hurley’s and Captain Keno’s are dive bars that still represent the funky side of Leucadia and I’m really hoping these joints survive the gentrification of the area.
As I was enjoying my beverage, I noticed a Trimble’s Pizza sign and asked bartender Heather Gasso for the scoop. She told me about this really cool local woman and Leucadian regular Jennifer Cushing (maiden name Trimble) who had always asked why there was not bar food available at the Leucadian and at most of the local dive bars. In her native Minnesota, frozen pizza made by local vendors was commonplace and it was somewhat of a tradition to chow one down after a few drinks. It was typical bar conversation for a while, until Jennifer took action on that bar talk and began the process of creating Trimble’s Pizza.
I thought it was a cool story so I placed my order. After they heated and boxed it up I loaded it piping hot in my bike basket and headed home. I made it about two blocks with that beautiful, crispy crust pizza goodness before it was quickly devoured in a park and let me tell you it was, at the time, the best thing ever. And yes, I know you are thinking that late night food reviews after booze tends to be glorified a bit given the munchies influence and I’m with you. That said, since that glorious night in the park, I’ve tried her pizza for lunch with no alcohol involved and it was still better than any frozen pizza I’ve had and right up there with some of the better pizza I’ve had.
I’m going to pause this for a moment and reflect on all the drunken bar conversations I’ve heard over the years about big ideas that usually remain just that, drunken bar talk. Not implying that Jennifer was making bold drunken proclamations, but however it played out, she was one of the few who took action and that in itself is worthy of praise. I also found out during our radio interview that prior to coming to San Diego, Jennifer was a horse wrangler in Arizona, worked for big time landscape designers, and is an accomplished angler. I would encourage you to give a listen to the interview on either the FM94/9, KSON or Sunny98.1 websites.
Once Jennifer got the idea in her head she sought out the help of friends in the restaurant business, as she needed a kitchen to develop her product. That restaurant happened to be the Stag & Lion in Carlsbad and they were generous enough to let her test her recipes amongst friends until she found the perfect mix of ingredients. That entailed a lot of testing but it worked and she finally nailed it. Stag & Lion continues to be her kitchen where she personally creates all the pizzas but I have a feeling with the growth she has seen recently she will be adding staff soon.
It made sense that Bar Leucadian was Jennifer’s first client and her pizza was a hit out of the gate. She offers an oven, signage and napkin holders as part of the initial order then fills pizza orders weekly. Word spread quickly among bar owners and soon orders were piling up. Her customer list now includes besides The Leucadian, The Stag and Lion in Carlsbad, Dani P’s Cork and Tap in Oceanside, Oceanside Sports Bar, Surfside Taproom in Oceanside, Tap That in Oceanside, Latitude 33 Brewing in Vista, Spechops Brewery in Vista, The Wateringhole in Clairemont, The Breakroom in Kearny Mesa, The Library Tavern in Mission Gorge, The BLVD bar in El Cajon, and Parky’s in La Mesa.
I fancy this pizza so much I’m going to ask the folks at Leucadian if I can purchase them frozen and keep a stash in my freezer! There’s something about cooking them on the crispy side, then cutting it into square slices (another Minnesota touch) then determining what your preferred method of consumption is. I tend to work my way from the inside out, saving the crispy edges for last. I hate to admit this, but I have no problem consuming an entire Trimble’s Pizza solo in one sitting. I don’t know if that’s typical or not, but once I get going on one I really can’t stop. I’d encourage you to stop into your favorite bar on the list above and give one a try.
Find Trimble’s Pizza on Facebook and Instagram.
Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at www.lick-the-plate.com