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Taste of the Future

Carolyn Jung | December 5, 2016 | Story Restaurants

In Silicon Valley, the simple act of transforming flour, water and yeast into pizza just got a lot more complex—and, unsurprisingly, techie. At Mountain View’s Zume Pizza, most pie-making duties have been assumed by Georgio, Pepe, Marta, Bruno and Vincenzo—patented robots. This heavy-metal crew’s pizzas are loaded onto trucks, each with 56 computerized ovens that actually cook the pies en route right before reaching their destination (within Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Los Altos for now, and San Jose expected shortly). The result is a fresh-as-it-gets pizza to your door in five to 20 minutes after ordering.

Alex Garden, former Zynga Studios president and former general manager of Microsoft’s Xbox Live, established the startup with co-CEO Julia Collins, a Stanford MBA and part-owner of Harlem Jazz Enterprises whose holdings include New York’s The Cecil and Minton’s. “Speed, quality and price are three variables we’re optimizing on,” Collins explains. The one-size-only pizzas, which change seasonally, are created by chef Aaron Butkus, former sous-chef at the landmark Brooklyn pizza joint Roberta’s. Priced from $15 to $19 with free delivery, the pizzas sport airy, bubble-pocked crusts from 48-hour fermented dough, as well as witty names such as Veggie Jackson (mozzarella, goat Gouda, yellow squash, Kalamata olives, tomato sauce, gremolata) and Thom Be Good (tomato sauce, mozzarella, provolone, pepperoni, sausage, roasted garlic). No tipping is required of the drivers, who are indeed human. Well, for now.

Originally published in the November issue of Silicon Valley

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