.Mystic Pizza: Nicholi Ludlow of Psychic Pie

It’s slippery and much contended, but at present, the possessor of the North Bay pizza crown is Psychic Pie on Hwy. 116.

There, at their pink walled West County clubhouse, the pies are made and served with a real family feeling by its two owners. Nicholi Ludlow, a pop, makes the bread base. Leith Leiser-Miller, wife, and mom to his pop, dreams up the unbeatable toppings combos. One more fact before cheers-ing into their one location—this pizza is not Detroit or New York, it’s not Neapolitan or Sicilian—it’s Roman, and it’s bought by the imperial pound.

CH: Nicholi, the genius of your thick crunchy and pillowy bread-base is that it supports more toppings than a conventional pie.

NL: That’s right. It is a two-day sourdough. And a very wet dough, wettest I know. And that wetness gives the base a cross section with big open pockets. It’s almost molten. We bake it very hard to give it a crispy bottom and that pillow top. That supports denser, layered, complex toppings—for the most part sourced here in Sonoma County.

CH: It is a pleasure to hear you talk about your suppliers, many of whom are friends as well as peers. Nicholi, your turn to bread was a left turn in your career. Is it true that you are a former rock god?

NL: (laughs) I was in a band called Jupiter is Useless. Our sound was Modest Mouse meets The Mars Volta, neither of which I like now (laughs). We did get to play The Warped Tour.

CH: I understand Leith’s career took a left turn as well. What is the title of her doctoral thesis?

NL: “Morphological Diversity in the Sensory Systems of Phyllostomid Bats: Implications for Acoustic and Dietary Ecology.”

CH: Why didn’t you name the shop Dr. Pizza?

NL: (laughs) We did consider Philosophy of Dough, for Ph.D.

CH: Preparing for this, I ate your chili verde pork with cheese sauce pizza and scalloped potato pizza with dill and creme fraiche. How does Leith dream this up?

NL: Leith cooks for our family every day. Our nightly dinner is Leith’s topping lab.

Learn more. This interview is taken from a longer audio interview available at ‘Sonoma County: A Community Portrait’ on Apple, Google and Spotify podcasts. Learn about their local suppliers, Leiser-Miller’s current experiments, how they sustain pizza excellence, and hear Ludlow’s number one hit.


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