Stephen Lanzalotta, the baker behind Slab pizza, dies at 63
A sad day
I was so sad to learn that Stephen Lanzalotta, the baker behind one of my favorite slices ever, the Slab, died last weekend of cancer:
Stephen Lanzalotta was best known as a baker – specifically, the one behind the Sicilian-style pizza that gained a following when he was the bakery manager at Micucci Grocery and became the basis for Portland restaurant Slab.
But the people who knew him well describe him as an artist.
Lanzalotta, 63, died Saturday, after years of battling cancer. In addition to being a baker, he was a woodworker, oil painter and author, as well as a father, business manager and friend.
“Basically everything he touched turned to gold,” said his daughter, Shaia Lanzalotta.
Emily Kingsbury, one of his business partners at Slab, said Lanzalotta was very private and didn’t want people knowing about his health struggles. When customers asked for him, Kingsbury would say he was out but would be back soon enough to make the dough. Even though he had stopped working at the restaurant four years ago, he still came in occasionally to make the dough, “just because he liked it,” she said.
I didn’t know Stephen well, but we were friendly, and I knew him to be a kind, gentle man. And an infinitely creative one. I’ll never forget the talk he gave at a Kneading Conference years ago on bread bakers as societal outsiders/shamans, which he kicked off by blaring Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’ from a boom box. (To the annoyance of the people taking the pancake workshop on the other side of the room.)
I’ll be making a batch of slab pizza in his honor soon, you should too:
You were one-of-a-kind, Stephen, and will be missed.