Pizza Orgasmica hit San Rafael with a spicy delicious splash a couple years ago.
Their infamous building paint color fiasco probably ultimately helped spread the word of their presence in the building formerly known as Willow Street and Rafters brewpubs.
It seems all pizzerias start with a dream, but for Taylor Maia and his co-partner Gina Gochez, their four-unit company was built on more than just some family handouts and a prayer. San Francisco-based Pizza Orgasmica & Brewing Company knew just how to grab attention –– and it’s a centuries-old idea. By pairing pizza and beer with a –– shall we say –– hedonistic marketing angle, Maia could marry his love of America with the culture of his home country of Brazil, and Californians are eating it up.
Maia came to America 22 years ago, and “I could not even say the word ‘water’ in English,” he says. “I was fresh. I was brand new. It was always my dream to come here since I was a little kid.” He began his career in food service delivering menus and washing dishes. It was while working as a driver for a pizzeria that he began formulating the idea to open his own pizzeria. In 1996, he and Gochez scraped together the money to open Pizza Orgasmica at its flagship store. “I think everything happens for a reason,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to come in and look at the papers. I walked in and I said, ‘You know what? This is going to be a perfect location.’”
How did they know they were ready for a second location? “The way I look at it is that if (you) have the consistency, if you have the resources to develop the idea that you already have, there’s no way that you can go wrong,” Maia says. “You need to have the logistics to make sure everything is going to work out and also to make sure that each product that you make at every location is always going to be the same.”
What sets Pizza Orgasmica apart from its competitors is its kitschy, tongue-in-cheek sex appeal. Maia even went so far as to run the sexy name past his mother before launching the concept –– she approved.
The company uses the trademarked tag line “We never fake it!,” and pizzas carry names like the Latin Lover (refried bean sauce, linguisa, cherry tomatoes, jalapeños, cheddar cheeses and cilantro) and the Kinky Cow (light mozzarella cheese, tomato, shredded carrot, ground beef and bleu cheese). Maia doesn’t worry about overkill –– he embraces his Brazilian heritage. One location is even tented with bright pillows and cushions for an even sexier feel. “Pizza and beer sells,” he says. “You put pizza, beer and sex together? That’s a concept.”
“We make everything –– dough, tomato sauce, (we cut) fresh vegetables every day,” Maia says. Pizzas are baked in either deck or rotary ovens. Although they’re using two different types of ovens, Maia doesn’t worry about consistency issues across the brand. “As long as the pizza is prepared the right way, as long as the dough has enough time to rise, the ingredients are the same,” he says. The dough rises for about 48 hours before use, and “sometimes we don’t have enough time to let it rise. We can’t! We’re making dough (before opening).”
Pizza Orgasmica realized they were selling a lot of beer –– and what’s better than selling it? Brewing it themselves.
“I – coming from Brazil – am a beer drinker,” Maia says. “To be awesome, we needed to have our own Orgasmica beer brand.” So Maia hired Rev Jackson as his main brewmaster (they now have three on staff) and they started with small batches in pony kegs. When a brewery restaurant closed in Marin County, Maia purchased the site and the equipment and now rotates 10 styles throughout his locations. The I.P.A. (a California India Pale ale) is the top seller, and Pizza Orgasmica can sell up to 10,000 pints of beer a month.
Pizza Orgasmica’s beer lineup includes their Golden Ale, IPA, Peach Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Porter, 4-Grain Hefeweizen, Raspberry Hefeweizen, Blueberry Best Bitter, Orgasmica Pale Ale, and Kolsch.
Passages excerpted from Pizza Today Magazine article “Risque’ Business – California pizza company blends pizza & beer with hedonistic concept“ By Mandy Wolf Detwiler