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Profile | We Brake for Breadsticks

I distinctly remember when House Pizzeria opened five years ago. My daughter had just “graduated” from her first day care, so we decided to celebrate with an impromptu meal with friends.

We’d heard about a new spot on Airport Boulevard, so we rendezvoused, nabbed a booth, scattered coloring books and crayons on the table, and ordered a round of bubbles (Prosecco for the adults, homemade Italian sodas for the kids). And soon we were digging into simple, satisfying appetizers (warm olives roasted with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes), fresh salads (spinach with shaved Parmesan, crispy salami, and a lemon wedge), and delicious pizzas topped with unexpected combinations like fresh mozzarella, Stilton, and a drizzle of Port reduction.

As it turns out, we were their target customers. When Scott and Sarah Talkington opened House Pizzeria, they wanted to create a comfortable, family-friendly place where you could enjoy Neapolitan-style pizza and homemade food in a laid back setting. An awesome jukebox and a spacious screened-in porch added to the charm. I remember thinking that everything was better than it needed to be—especially the complimentary breadsticks that appeared on the table soon after we ordered. Most breadsticks are forgettable—crisp but otherwise unremarkable pencils packaged in parchment. Not these.

The Talkingtons wanted to embrace the Italian tradition of offering customers something to nibble on when they sat down. They settled on a recipe from Scott’s Sicilian grandmother, olive oil-enriched breadsticks they simply call pepper biscuits. They make them once a week, mixing flour with olive oil, plenty of black pepper, fennel seed, and a sprinkling of salt. The dough is divided into softball-size portions that are rolled out by hand, then cut with a pizza wheel into thin, irregular shards and baked in a convection oven. The crunch and play of salt and spice make them the perfect companion for a sip of wine. Those first bites encourage you to settle in and anticipate the meal to come. And you feel like somebody is glad that you’re there.

Credits

Photography by Kate LeSueur

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