The Fist o’ Flour Pizza Company has become one of those local darlings whose success makes us all sentimental and fuzzy feeling down in some tribal part of our beings. James Whitehead talks about pizza the way you can only dream a lover will someday speak about you. The passion is deep. With the grand opening of The Doughjo, a neighborhood take-away spot, it seems his love has finally been consummated.
In 2010 Whitehead “hand-built and mounted a pizza oven to a trailer, added the tiniest NSA-approved three-compartment sink you’ve ever seen and had a stainless kitchenette fabricated on the back of the beast.” He sold pizza out of parking lots, at Art Murmur, and catered parties for other local folks like The Crucible. Success warranted an upgrade in company digs to a school bus affectionately known as “Shorty the Short Bus,” and now, less than three years later, a brick and mortar location in the Laurel District of East Oakland.
“I live right around here, these are my local go-tos, this location is ideal for me,” said Whitehead. “The neighborhood is ready.” The grand opening was resounding in its affirmation. The line was constantly out the door and the street corner was host to a nice crowd of folks nomming on hot slices and enjoying the unseasonably nice weather. Because The Doughjo is take-away only, the pedestrian presence will be a permanent fixture of the block now. And there’s just something right about eating pizza standing up on a grease-soaked paper plate.
Whitehead has tried pizza in cities all over the world and developed his own recipe using Cheeseboard’s sourdough base as his point of departure. The mainstay options on The Doughjo menu are cheese, mushroom and pepperoni, but you’ll also find two daily specials with ingredients like house-made fennel sausage, Yukon gold potatoes, shallots and spinach.
“Our menu will grow as we learn our new digs, and we will be adding a few sandwiches to the line, but for now we’re focused on replicating the pizzas you already know and love.” So, Whitehead adds, “here we go folks! Buckle up, let’s see what this thing can do!”