“I aspire to be a sushi master of the bread & butter world. The ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ of bread and butter.”
Meet Dan Richer, the James Beard Rising Star chef semi-finalist and owner of Razza Pizza Artiginale in Jersey City, NJ. I remember his laugh the most. There’s a quality, a character to it, as if he knows he’s laughing at his own joke, poking fun at his own self-awareness. I find it charming, that Dan admits to being crazy. Crazy about ingredients. Crazy about sourcing. Crazy about everything that passes in and out of his kitchen. He is picky and meticulous to say the least. When he starts a new food project, he has to master it. “It’s part of being a craftsman,” he tells me. Part of his fight against mediocrity. To him, mediocrity serves no one. And maybe that’s the mark of a true artisan, someone willing to go those extra lengths. To move towards perfection. Here at Razza’s this design is in everything, especially in the bread & butter.
Blink…and you’ll miss the dish on Razza’s menu. Miss it, and I’ll feel truly sorry for you. It’s special. Really special. Even now, I can remember spreading the soft, salted butter over the oven-warmed bread. An act of salivation! Every bite is pillowy, the butter uniquely grassy, tangy. The crust alive and darkly caramel. The slippery coat on your lips, triggers a need for more bread, more butter. You marvel that something so simple, so overlooked, could be so satisfying.
To me, it’s the most memorable dish on Dan’s small menu, which says a lot coming from a restaurant with pizza in its name. And that’s ok with Dan. While learning to make a better pizza, he got sucked into the rabbit hole of fermentation. Now, as you’ll see, it’s become his specialty. The bread & butter is Dan’s greatest achievement, showcasing everything about food that’s important to him. Enjoy his story.