The crispy, lightweight and slightly chewy sourdough crust on these wood-fired pizzas is surprising and tastes nothing like sourdough bread. The pizzas themselves are simple and delicious, made with only the best-quality, local ingredients.
Chefs Jackie Woods and Paris Dreibelbis are business partners in Brute and Whitefish Bay’s Donut Monster. They just began rolling out Brute pizzas in July.
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An Iowa native, Dreibelbis has competed in and won prestigious competitions as a young chef and also participated with Team USA to prepare for the Culinary Olympics in Lyon, France. Most Recently, he was Chef De Cuisine of Bartolotta’s Bacchus restaurant.
I talked with Cher Paris Dreibelbis to learn his secret of achieving the such a unique crust.
What made you decide to focus on pizza?
I’ve always loved fine dining, but the coronavirus started closing down fine dining very quickly.
Comfort food got busier so I saw it as an opportunity to start my own business. I figured it’d better to be on the bottom building up rather than dealing with a leased building and other overhead expenses as a business owner.
Sourdough pizza is something I’ve wanted to do and I had actually never even had it, but heard of it being done. I am pretty sure I am the first to offer it in Milwaukee
How does slinging to-go pizzas compare to working in some of Milwaukee’s most upscale restaurants?
Well, it’s definitely not as stressful. But we try to keep the same level of fine dining in every-day food – Jackies does the same at Donut Monster. We keep the same attention to detail and strive to perfect our products.
Tell me about your plans to bring these pizzas to the people?
I am currently making wood-fired pizzas to-go on site at the West Allis Farmers Markets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I am actually looking at participating in the West Bend beer garden series with 1840 brewing on Fridays too.
I am in the market right now for a pizza oven and a trailer for a DIY food truck to continue my operation.
How do you get the crust to be so perfectly chewy and crispy?
Well, after 100 pounds of flour and 30 different recipes later, I found my recipe. The sourdough pizza dough takes three days to make because of the fermentation process. I use stone-milled flour from Lone Rock, Wisconsin, which is one of only 28 mills in the US that still uses the old-world technique of stone milling. There are three different types of organic flour: bread flour, all-purpose flour and Caputo 00, which refers to the level of grinding.
Then, I played with hydration level of the dough to finalize it. It is hard to keep the Levain (or sourdough starter) alive, but that fermentation really makes the difference.
I do also have a proprietary flour blend in the works
What’s your most popular pizza you sell?
Probably the PPPP – the pepperoni, peppers and peppadew pizza. Or people will try Margarita because it’s something they are comfortable and they’re already trying something new with a sourdough crust.
I make a chef’s pizza with capers and anchovies that is delicious because I use really good quality anchovies that taste different than what most people are used to.
One day, I want to try a rye crust so I can create my own take on a reuben pizza.
I’ve also started experimenting with garlic bites that are little fried dough balls with a garlic butter on steroids.
Where does the name Brute come from?
When talking about the concept, we said “We are going to savagely attack the pizza game in Milwaukee!” So, we landed on the name Brute.
We wanted to be king of the crust, so we added a lion in the logo since the lion is king of the jungle. It’s just fun name.
What is one topping you’d never put on a pizza?
Are you trying ask my opinion about the pineapple controversy? I am actually okay with pineapple on pizza. There are not many things I wouldn’t try on a pizza. Oysters! I’d never put oysters on a pizza.
What’s your favorite food?
Sushi and tacos, but I do love pizza too. My standard Dominos order is sausage, bacon and pickled jalapeños.
Want to taste Brute pizza? Stop by the West Allis Farmers Market on Tuesday (1-6 p.m.), Thursday (1-6 p.m.) or Saturday (12-6 p.m.) or pre-order your pie anytime during the week for Sunday pick up at Donut Monster from 3-7 p.m.
Dreibelbis and Woods plan to offer tasting menus at Donut Monster in the future that will be focused on technique and seasonal ingredients.