Photo by Molly Tavoletti

It’s not that weird

Rebecca Firkser
September 27, 2018

The American palate is endlessly fascinating, especially when it comes to breakfast. Many people I know won't think twice about devouring a chocolate-dipped granola bar or a cinnamon bun dripping with frosting in the morning, but they'd never grab a slice of pizza on their way to the office. But why not?

Jordan Baker, owner of Baker's Pizza & Espresso in Manhattan, agrees with me. Baker opened the slice and coffee shop (which starts serving pizza and coffee at 8 a.m.) as an offshoot of his restaurant Baker’s Pizza to try to subvert most Americans’ expectations of what breakfast can be.

When I told Baker that the only times I ever recall seeing pizza on a morning menu is at brunch, he had two very strong hypotheses regarding the reason. “I think there's a pragmatic reason and an emotional reason,” he wrote in an email. “Pizza ovens use a lot of space and a lot of energy, and it usually doesn't make sense logistically for a restaurant that isn't a pizzeria to invest in the equipment.” He explained that while some restaurants may make flatbreads in a convection oven, to make a real pie, a restaurant will need to invest in a large pizza oven.

The other reason Baker suspects is simple: Habits are hard to break, especially food habits. He mentioned that when it comes to breakfast, people are even more inclined to be creatures of habit. “You're usually on autopilot, and pizza isn't the first thing you think of. We're trying to change that.”

A good way to ease people into the idea of pizza for breakfast is to incorporate classic American breakfast flavors into the pies. Baker and his executive chef Jamie Cacace developed three breakfast pies when the restaurant opened in August. All of the early-morning pizzas come with a kind of egg: Their Southwest pizza seems inspired by a breakfast burrito, with scrambled eggs (as well as vegetables, cheddar, and salsa), and their Benedict pie is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a wondrous creation of over-easy eggs, Canadian bacon, and hollandaise. Even if you’re not an early riser, you can certainly get your fix of classic pizza for breakfast: after 11 a.m., the restaurant serves more typical slices, like Margherita, mushroom, and pepperoni.

Of course, when customers do make the choice to try a slice for breakfast, they’re delighted. “They feel like they're indulging, and breaking their usual monotonous morning routine,” Baker said. “Business professionals in their 30s are coming in and they're smiling like high school kids who are playing hooky from school.”

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