From Our Blog
The Benchmark Story
Our pizza is made from a wild-yeast starter we cultivated ourselves. We never use packaged yeast. Produced daily, the dough undergoes a two-day cold fermentation process before it is ready to eat. By the time it hits your table, it is alive with healthy cultures. Our pasta is also made in house from a simple recipe of semolina and water.
FARMS & SUPPLIERS
Benchmark is deeply committed to source from the Bay Area’s finest local, organic farmers. Dry goods such as flour and olive oil are chosen with craft and quality in mind. Our meats are humanely and sustainably raised and always antibiotic, hormone and nitrate-free.
We make all our pickles, sausage, condiments, even our cheese. Our wood fired oven does double duty, baking our seasonal fruit pies in the morning before the pizza starts. We’ve also got local heroes Straus Family Creamery’s organic soft-serve ice cream, available to take home in a jar with your pizza.
LOCAL WINE & BEER ON TAP
Benchmark offers an exclusively local list of wine and beer, both served on tap. Beer is available in pints and pitchers, wine is served by the glass, half or full liter carafes. So you can taste more of the glory of our local vines and grains
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.
Before opening, Peter went “benchmark hunting” and took pictures of these East Bay land and elevation markers. We framed the photos with local redwood and hung them in the restaurant’s dining room.
Peter & Melissa Swanson opened Benchmark Pizzeria in July 2012 after many years in the industry. The couple met over a decade earlier while working at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland. Melissa, new server and host, found herself entranced by Peter’s ability to cook a perfect piece of fish, and from there the duo’s fate was sealed, now culminating in their own spot. Peter, a self-taught chef, left Oliveto to help open Dopo in Oakland, where he created Dopo’s signature pizza dough recipe. Prior to opening Benchmark, Melissa worked as a server at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and has spent years dabbling in all 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. The couple lives nearby in El Cerrito with their two sons, Luke, 6, and Wyatt, 4.
Farms & Suppliers
We believe that food is craft, and ingredients are the core components of good food, therefore we make cheese, sausage, pies, pasta and condiments in house. Local and sustainable produce alongside Italian imported dry goods give our food a true sense of terroir, generated from our own Bay Area agricultural environs and the source of pizza’s tradition in Italy. Our meat is responsibly raised, nitrate and hormone 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
Benchmark Pizzeria is happy to host you, your friends, and your family for your private event. We offer two different styles of events in addition to special features for the little ones. We offer a choice of a pre-set, plated service or a more casual family-style service. For beer& wine, you can host an open tab or let your guests pay themselves.
Private Benchmark Pizzeria Event
We will close the restaurant to the general public for the evening so that you and your guests can enjoy a private, intimate experience. Menu is developed with Chef based on our regular menu and special menu options can be explored.
Intimate Party In our Back Room
Host a small, intimate gathering at Benchmark in our back dining room. This room has a private entrance, curtain blocking second half of dining room, and access to outdoors. The restaurant will be in normal operation in our other dining room. Menu is developed with Chef based on our regular menu and special menu options can be explored.
Benchmark Pizzeria is available for children’s parties on weekends from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. or 2 p.m.-4 p.m. During this time, the full use of the restaurant dining room is available. You are welcome to bring in entertainment such as clowns, magicians, or animal shows.
Rental Policies + Pricing
Restaurant is available for rental 7 days a week. Rental prices begin at $600 and food & beverage menus begin at $15/child and $20/adult but vary depending on the service and package.
There is a minimum and a maximum number people required for each type of event (full private event, back room rental, or kids party). If the minimum guest number is not met, the price for food and beverage will be matched to the minimum number. A credit card must be used to reserve your event. Any cancellation made less than 48 hours before the day of the event will be charged a 20 percent cancellation fee. Prices do not include California Sales Tax or gratuity of 20 percent.