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How a Punk Rock–Inspired Pizza Shop Helped Me Feel at Home in Sacramento

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Man in black rubber gloves slices a pepperoni pizza.
Ben Roberts slices a pepperoni pizza at his downtown Sacramento restaurant, Pizza Supreme Being. (José Vadi)

Two summers ago, when I told a fellow skater and frequent local of the Rockridge BART parking lot — a popular Oakland skate spot — that I was moving to Sacramento, he immediately recommended Pizza Supreme Being. The downtown pizzeria was, in his opinion, one of the city’s best.

Food recommendations are an everyday occurrence, but a referral from a skater — a member of a subculture rich with niche tastes and preferences measured to the millimeter, plus a ground level relationship with cities — is something I take to heart.

Located steps from the California State Capitol Park on the corner of 14th and O Streets, Pizza Supreme Being is what I frequently describe as a spotless, well-organized merch table at a hardcore show that just happens to sell amazing sourdough slices and pies. According to co-owner Ben Roberts, I’m not far off.

“I legitimately run this brand like I would a hardcore band or like a skateboard company,” Roberts explains. He approaches speciality pizza pies “as like a single for a band.” Limited, one-and-done merch drops create the type of cultural FOMO Roberts himself has fallen victim to, growing up skateboarding, playing in bands and going to underground shows. “I love seeing things out in the wild that I did happen to miss,” he explains. “It brings me back to those moments and things in my life that I was always so drawn to. I gotta make sure that I don’t lose touch with that.”

Ben Roberts in a black punk rock T-shirt poses along with his pizza shop's employees, all dressed in white.
Roberts (left) and his crew run the shop like it’s a skateboard brand or like they’re selling merch at a hardcore punk show. (José Vadi)

After years in fine dining, Roberts started Pizza Supreme Being as a pop-up around 2015 after building a transportable wood-fire oven. He spent four years serving slices at bars and wineries on weekends, building a local following serving pies with a more standard yeasted dough before transitioning to naturally leavened sourdough per the recommendation of wife and business partner, Pembe Sonmez-Roberts.

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“You have to feed the [sourdough] starter twice a day,” Roberts says, explaining that this wasn’t practical in the business’s early years. Once they made the switch, however, the end result tasted “worlds better.”

They got keys to the restaurant in March 2019, opened by April, and celebrated their one-year anniversary by transitioning to shelter in place during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three years later, “I feel like this is what’s normal,” Roberts explains. Even now the restaurant only offers outdoor dining and to-go orders.

And while the original restaurant dream was fork and knives with wood-fired pies, the reality-driven plan is affordable slices and pies “with superior ingredients.”

“I put all of our focus on our dough and our cheese blend,” Roberts says, detailing the organic tomatoes and never-bromated U.S. milled flour he uses daily. He also makes a signature homemade ranch dressing that when purchased online includes a YouTube tutorial link from Roberts himself. But lest you think everything on the menu has artisanal ambitions, Roberts says, “I also put Spam on pizza.”

The Spam is a trademark of the restaurant’s take on Hawaiian pizza, along with jalapeño and pineapple. The Heatwave Pizza combines hot coppa with jalapeño and Mike’s Hot Honey. And regulars know to come early (and hungry) enough to snag a square pepperoni slice, topped to the Detroit-style corners with pepperoni cups, before they sell out — and make no mistake, Pizza Supreme Being’s whole lineup of pizza always winds up selling out. Lining up to the kiosk window to place an order feels less like an exclusive foodie experience and more akin to buying tickets to a show. Slices are served to your seats outside, where government professionals, cross-city bike crews, pre-gaming hardcore show kids, skaters, families and beyond intersect in allegiance to a supreme being of a sourdough crust perfected to the last bite.

Overhead view of a pizza topped with hot coppa and jalapeños.
The Heatwave pizza combines hot coppa, jalapeños and Mike’s Hot Honey. (Courtesy of Pizza Supreme Being/Instagram)

What’s also impressive for such a small restaurant is that it hosts a whole network of local, multicultural food industry upstarts. Eddie Torres, who works full-time at Pizza Supreme Being, recently debuted a pizza featuring achiote marinated pork sausage and mojo verde as part of his own pop-up, La Cocina de Carmen — his “vision of a California cuisine restaurant with Puerto Rican influence.” The restaurant has also hosted Congee Cult, a two-person pop-up serving new takes on Chinese rice porridge.

Part of this community-driven mindset is a direct product of the music scenes Roberts grew up with. Now, with limited free time as a business owner and new parent, Roberts stays connected to those scenes by offering a good meal to visiting hardcore acts like Candy, Extinguish, Big Boy and the Los Angeles powerviolence band Zulu.

“I try my best to look at tour dates of bands that I really enjoy, or even ones I haven’t listened to that much, and just say ‘Pull up and I’ll feed you,’” Robert explains. “I know that they’re hungry, on the road, eating fast food.”

Sometimes Roberts lets these touring bands, like San Jose’s Sunami, set up a little merch pop-up — and, like any proper skate shop or hardcore band, the restaurant offers its own line of cheeky merch as well. One of my personal favorites is a T-shirt featuring a hand-drawn character inspired by Youth of Today lead singer Ray Cappo leaping mid-air, mid-song. The restaurant sells bumper stickers that advocate for pepperoni cups and playfully trolls corporate ranch dressing manufacturers with the simple question, “Where the Heck is Hidden Valley?”

Bumper stickers arranged on a white pizza box: "Gas...Brake...Dip...Your Pizza in Ranch," "I Went to Pizza Supreme Being and All I Got Was This Lousy Bumper Sticker," "Welcome to Sacramento, We Dip Our Pizza in Ranch," "I Brake for Pepperoni Cups," and "Where the Heck Is Hidden Valley?"
The pizza brand’s merch lineup includes a selection of cheeky pepperoni- and ranch dressing-themed bumper stickers. (Courtesy of Pizza Supreme Being/Instagram)

While a small, punk-inspired pizza shop might seem like an unlikely avatar for Sacramento’s acclaimed food scene, a sense of local pride is palpable in everything that Pizza Supreme Being produces. The restaurant’s Instagram Stories often feature selfies of Roberts posing in front of the beam lit above the Golden 1 Center after every Kings win, and the chef is effusive about how much cool stuff is happening in the capital city.

If the best parts of skateboarding, hardcore and similar subcultures are the communities they engender, why wouldn’t that also be true for a pizza restaurant? For me, Pizza Supreme Being has been a welcome portal into a Sacramento scene I’m still slowly getting to know — one whose hard-working ethos speaks for itself.

“I get really tired of being compared to other cities — the rising this or the next that,” Roberts says. “Just let us be us and see what we got.”

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Pizza Supreme Being is located at 1425 14th St., Ste. C, in Sacramento. Open Wed.–Sun., noon to 8:30 p.m. (or until sold out). Cashless — order online or call 916-917-5559. Follow them on Instagram.

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