Betty Rock Pizza Rocks

Published in Chef Notes, Jackson Hole News & Guide, September 21, 2011
Shared by Chef /Owner Marc Hirschfield
Betty Rock Café

Perfect Pizza Sauce – Betty Rock Café
A scaled version of pizza sauce at Betty Rock.

¼ c olive oil

2  large yellow onions, sliced thinly

8  cloves garlic

28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, San Marzano or organic

6 oz can tomato paste

2 t dried basil

2 t dried oregano

1 t black pepper

2 t salt, or to taste

½ t crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan add olive oil, onions, one teaspoon of salt and garlic that has been smashed in a garlic press. Cook over low to moderate heat for approximately 30 minutes. Cook this mixture down until the onions have a sweet salty garlic flavor. Be careful not to let the pan burn — a little trick can be to add the liquid from the can of whole tomatoes. Once the mixture is where you like it add herbs and whole tomatoes, cook this down another twenty to thirty minutes (if you have the time – longer tends to be better!) Add tomato paste plus a can of water from the empty tomato paste can.  Bring everything up to heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Check for salt and spice (if you like a little extra kick this is a good time to add it).

With your immersion blender mix sauce until it is smooth. The color of this sauce will be a slightly orange red and will taste super delicious. If you are pureeing in a regular blender make sure you pull out the plastic spout in the lid (this will help the steam escape). You’ll need to cover the hole with a kitchen towel and go slow to avoid disaster.   If you have any questions stop by the kitchen of the Betty Rock and ask for Marc or Kyle.

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A couple weeks ago a pal of mine invited me to join her birthday celebration. She’s so smart at making life fun and easy. “Join us for pizza at Betty Rock, then we’ll all go see the Punch Brothers at the Center for the Arts,” read the email invite. It was a fun night.

It’s deja vu all over again, again, again. Betty Rock is a couple hundred yards from my house. Apparently they’ve been making pizzas for a year. Man, they make good pies! How could it take me so long to catch on? Is that the important part or is it that I know now? Thursdays it’s all you can eat pizza for $11.

Marc Hirschfield grew up in Scarsdale. He credits the local pizza joints there as the influence on his style of pizza with thin crust that is crisp and yet a little chewy.

Hirschfield moved to Los Angeles for his high school years and back east to Middlebury, Vermont for his college years. He met his wife, Anise Morrow in San Francisco just after her college years at Wellesley. They spent time in LA around 1994 the Soccer World Cup. Hirschfield did big event planning such as a kids’ soccer program for thousands of participants. Anise had a vision to open a bagel place in Santa Monica.

When they moved here in 1995, as there was a thriving bagel business, their vision transformed into the original Betty Rock Café, which opened that year. They served breakfasts and lunches of tasty fresh foods, good salads and soups, sandwiches and wraps. Their scones were really good as were all the baked goods. The original scene had an appealing casual, intimate tribal look about it.

In 2001, Hirschfield had an active role in and became an investor in the Rendezvous Bistro, a fine dining restaurant. Their two sons, Simon and Theo, were born, and life was more about family in those years. They sold the cafe in 2003.

As time unfolded, daughter Lucana was born. The kids grew. Hirschfield backed away from his time commitment to the Bistro. Betty Rock closed and the space went through a couple incarnations. It sat empty. Driving by the empty location one day, they knew it was time.

In 2009, Betty Rock was open and back in the swing of things. A few changes have helped streamline the operation. They open at 10:30 and serve through lunch and dinner hours until 9 every day except Sunday. Many employees returned and even more happy local customers. Hirschfield has not been trained in cooking, but has done tons of it and has a knack of finessing ingredients to the right taste. Morrow, who runs the business side, therefore escaping oven burns on her arms, also has a keen ability to scrutinize tastes until a recipe just right.

There must be a mention of the continuum of soccer in this picture. Hirschfield played the game from childhood through college and then some semi-pro. Since moving here he has been instrumental in the growth of the sport in our valley. He was a player on the original Jackson men’s team that played other communities throughout the Northern Rocky Mountain States. He was the first coach of the high school girls team. With Joe Rice he helped develop the youth soccer league. They did fund raising to create the two synthetic turf fields, an key component in our climate as they may be plowed of snow in March and are ready for play. Now there are 300 plus kids involved each year. There is a men’s league with 25 teams that plays on Sunday afternoons. He’s says it’s not an old man’s game but all his kids play now.

Onto the pizzas. My initial taste was a caramelized onion, apple, prosciutto pie with white sauce. The combo sparkled in my mouth. The Dan is one of the most popular pies with sausage, mushroom, caramelized onion, basil and truffle oil. Picture it! The Patrick has spicy sausage, tomato, fresh garlic and basil. They offer several vegetarian choices. They utilize Udi’s, from Colorado, gluten free crust and employ gloves and a flour free (as far as that is possible) regimen to deliver a unique product for those allergic. The pepperoni is hand sliced and the best quality I’ve experienced.

We had some delightfully crisp fresh salads with pizzas and a reasonably priced and lovely bottle of wine the other night. The house made dressings  and freshness of the ingredients highlighted our meal. The service is attentive, efficient and friendly.

If you miss Bru’s column in the off season, check out her website blog that will begin to reflect her experiences with her new roommates, her 94 year old mom and her mom’s cat, Carmelo Anthony. Wish them safe travels.


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