Side StrEATS is a multimedia series by Long Beach Post staff that aims to highlight unique food businesses across the city. To contact us, email Visuals Editor Thomas R. Cordova at [email protected].

Speak Cheezy is a new pizzeria on the corner of Fourth Street and Termino Avenue that specializes in naturally leavened sourdough pizza. The restaurant opened in April, but the popular pizza joint has been a well-known hit around the Southland for a decade, first as the wood-burning pop-up Urban Pie and then as the mobile pizza van Speak Cheezy.

Owned by Jason Winters a self-proclaimed “pizza nerd,” Speak Cheezy’s fine sourdough crust is comprised of five American grains, and naturally leavened for four to five days. His pizzas are baked in a PizzaMaster electric deck oven, able to reach over 900 degrees and mimics the baking effects of a wood fire oven like the much-admired leopard-like char around the crust.

Steam and smoke rise from a pizza place in a very hot pizza oven at the newly opened brick-and-mortar Speak Cheezy pizza restaurant in Long Beach Thursday, May 19, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Much of Speak Cheezy’s ingredient-forward, Cali-style pizzas are informed by Winters’ early career in the Vegas fine-dining scene at Julian Serrano’s Michelin two-star restaurant Picasso and Alessandro Stratta’s nicknamesake restaurant, Alex, as well as his years working as a sous chef under James Beard award-winning chef Suzanne Goin, at the now-defunct West Hollywood restaurant Lucques. But his introduction to pizza began over a decade ago while working at Brick in San Clemente, an Italian restaurant, where he came to appreciate the popular wood-burning method.

Determined to pave his own path, the chef decided to start his own pizza pop-up. But instead of using double zero flour (very popular at the time) his focus was sourdough.

“There is so much more flavor to it…you can taste the grains, it’s a little more buttery,” he said. “People actually love eating our crust and that’s not always the case.”

Winters said it had always been his dream to lay down roots in Long Beach where he continues his catering business in the cherry-red Speak Cheezy vans, but now with a space all his own, he’s proud to share his creations with the Long Beach community and beyond.

“We feel like we’re pioneering sourdough pizza…and it’s exciting to be one of the few sourdough pizza makers in LA County,” Winters said.

Read more about the origins of Speak Cheezy here: