We don’t like attaching a specific label to our pizza, but it is best described as Neo-Neapolitan – thin crust, individually sized at roughly 11-inches, and light on cheese and toppings. The dough, made from a wild yeast, sourdough starter, is rolled out by hand daily. Cooked in our wood oven at over 800 degrees, the pizzas go in and come out within two minutes.
When researching names for the pizzeria, owner/chef Peter Swanson was inspired by the artistic quality of benchmarks, or survey markers, that are used in geodetics. Before opening, Peter went “benchmark hunting” and took pictures of these East Bay land and elevation markers, which he framed with local redwood. These are on display in the restaurant’s dining room. The pizzeria’s logo mirrors these benchmarks and features the restaurant’s GPS coordinates.
Peter & Melissa Swanson opened Benchmark Pizzeria in July 2012. The couple met over a decade earlier when they both worked at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland, Peter as a cook and Melissa as a host and server. Peter, a self taught chef who has cooked in restaurants since he was a teenager, left Oliveto to work at Dopo in Oakland, where he worked as a sous chef and pizza maker for six years. Melissa, who most recently worked front-of-the-house at Chez Panisse in Berkeley as a server, has spent years dabbling in many things food related, from writing and restaurant criticism to founding Little Bug, an organic baby food company that served the Bay Area’s little ones from 2006-2009. The couple lives nearby in El Cerrito with their two sons, Luke, 6, and Wyatt, 4.
Farms & suppliers
Benchmark sources produce from local, organic farmers. Our other ingredients, such as flour, cheese, and olive oil, are of the highest quality and chosen with quality and flavor in mind. Our meats are local and sustainably raised and always nitrate-free.
Thanks to the following regular suppliers of Benchmark food:
Dirty Girl Farm
Blue Heron Farm
Full Belly Farm
Billy Bob Orchards
Casa Rosa olive oil
Marin Sun Farms
Blossom Bluff Orchards