Not quite revolutionary

Federalist Public House

Federalist Public House

2009 N St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

(916) 661-6134

Good for: sourdough wood-fired pizza

Notable dishes: the Fromaggio, with crushed tomatoes, fiore di latte, Grana Padano, fontina and pecorino (ask for chili oil on the side)

The Federalists were the first American political party, beginning in the late 1700s. They also lent their name to a style of architecture that incorporates revolutionary symbols such as the eagle.

Federalist Public House is a bit revolutionary in its own right, occupying an open-air space located inside shipping containers in Midtown. Delayed at least six months from its original launch date, the owners were finally able to open late last year.

Situated behind Waterboy and Rubicon in Matsui Alley, Federalist specializes in pizza from a wood-fired oven bedecked in shiny tiles. It helps warm the area and serves as a focal point in the minimalist space.

As diners enter, they order at a counter and then choose a seat at one of the long picnic tables. Lots of local beers are available by the pint or quart, and a large quote by Thomas Jefferson dominates one wall.

Sacramento is currently inundated with pizza restaurants, although they vary widely in style and substance. The team at Federalist wisely hired Shannon McElroy as executive chef, gaining his years of experience as sous chef at the highly regarded restaurant Masullo.

While the website might still be under construction, and promises of high-tech ordering have yet to materialize, the pizzas are winners out of the gate—which is fortunate, since they dominate the menus.

Coming out at about 13 inches in diameter, these pizzas are great for sharing. They lean Neopolitan in style, with a chewy, slightly charred crust and minimal but high-impact toppings.

The simple Fromaggio is lightly graced with crushed plum tomatoes, fiore di latte (a fresh cow’s-milk mozzarella), and an aromatic mixture of Parmesan, fontina and pecorino. The flavorful cheeses make this much more interesting than a kid’s cheese pizza. A brunch version with egg is also delicious.

Vegans can rejoice with the Midtown option, which sports only tomatoes, peppers, onions, kale and chili oil.

Confirmed carnivores, on the other hand, have many choices, including the Fremont, with tomatoes, smoked Spam and pineapple, fiore di latte and Parmesan. Or, try the Chavez, boldly flavored with pork carnitas, Yukon potato hash, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatillo salsa, red onions and crème fraiche.

Don’t let the laundry list of toppings scare you, though. Each is used minimally, so as not to overwhelm the flavor and texture of the crust. Made with a sourdough starter to amp up the flavor, the pizza crusts are thin but nicely toothsome, with a sprinkling of salt and a bit of smoky flavor from the oven.

There are few other menu items available yet, but do try the Cannonball “sando,” containing two housemade meatballs of pork, beef and smoked meat, nestled in an oven-baked sourdough pocket and topped with fresh oregano and Parmesan. A healthy portion of salad comes as a side.

While the bread dough suffered some gumminess from the sauce, it held up well. You can also order the meatballs without bread, topped with “Italian gravy” (marinara).

There are three basic salads available, to which you can add smoked chicken, tri-tip or trout for a few dollars more. The mixed greens salad, served with chili-fig-shallot vinaigrette, chevre and dried cranberries sounds like a flavor explosion, but it was actually somewhat tame.

A brunch frittata packed with kale, arugula, onions, potatoes and various sauces was a nice size, but too chock-full of ingredients to have a stand-out flavor. It would be better treated like the pizzas, with some restraint.

Another visit-worthy feature is the bocce ball court, situated on the open side of the space. Servers will school you on the game rules, if needed. Bingo has been known to appear at brunch as well.

It’s great to have an old idea (pizza and beer) presented in an intriguing new setting. Heat lamps stave off the chill, so don’t fear a visit during winter. Despite its long delay, the concept does seem somewhat unfinished, though. Once the website is live (with online menus) and the menu fine-tuned a bit more, Federalist will undoubtedly be ready for its revolution.