The Benchmark Story


The Pizza

We don’t like attaching a specific label to our pizza, but it is best described as Neo-Neapolitan – thin crust, individually sized at roughly 11-inches, and light on cheese and toppings. The dough, made from a wild yeast, sourdough starter, is rolled out by hand daily. Cooked in our wood oven at over 800 degrees, the pizzas go in and come out within two minutes.

The Name

Before opening, Peter went “benchmark hunting” and took pictures of these East Bay land and elevation markers. We framed the photos with local redwood and hung them in the restaurant’s dining room.

The Owners

Peter & Melissa Swanson opened Benchmark Pizzeria in July 2012 after many years in the industry. The couple met over a decade earlier while working at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland. Melissa, new server and host, found herself entranced by Peter’s ability to cook a perfect piece of fish, and from there the duo’s fate was sealed, now culminating in their own spot. Peter, a self-taught chef, left Oliveto to help open Dopo in Oakland, where he created Dopo’s signature pizza dough recipe. Prior to opening Benchmark, Melissa worked as a server at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and has spent years dabbling in all things food-related, from writing and restaurant criticism to founding Little Bug, an organic baby food company that served the Bay Area’s little ones.

Farms & Suppliers

We believe that food is craft, and ingredients are the core components of good food, therefore we make cheese, sausage, pies, pasta and condiments in house. Local and sustainable produce alongside Italian imported dry goods give our food a true sense of terroir, generated from our own Bay Area agricultural environs and the source of pizza’s tradition in Italy. Our meat is responsibly raised, nitrate and hormone free.