San Francisco

Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s

Dish By DishSan Francisco

Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine Makes Delicious Food Out of Waste

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Shuggie’s Trash Pie + Natural Wine, which opened last month in the Mission, is not your average pizzeria. For starters, there’s the groovy, maximalist space, which features two monochromatic rooms (one yellow, one green), glittery surfaces, hand-shaped chairs, and a cheetah mural. Owners Kayla Abe and chef David Murphy designed it themselves, and it’s worth checking out on its own merit. 

Yet the real draw of Shuggie’s is a menu powered by upcycled ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. Surplus produce, bycatch from fishermen, and offal make their way into snacks, share plates, and Murphy’s thin-crust, grandma-style “trash pies” — which look like no other pizzas you’ve seen before. They have sunken interiors; floppy, caramelized crusts; and all sorts of unique toppings.

Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s
Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s

Abe and Murphy have a history in sustainable agriculture. They are the founders of Ugly Pickle Co., where they make pickles out of blemished, misshapen vegetables. Formerly, Abe worked for the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, helped bring Oatly to the West Coast, and served on the board of the Upcycled Food Association. Murphy is a seasoned chef whose resume includes Whitechapel, Madera, and Uchi. The couple met at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. “We’d had the same conversations with farmers about food waste, and felt compelled to do something about it, especially because a lot of them were friends of ours,” says Abe. 

When the issue of food waste — a primary contributor to climate change — took an even darker turn over the pandemic, Abe and Murphy needed a way to take on more of it. As a pickle outfit, they have limits to how quickly they can launch and sell new products, but as a restaurant, they can utilize many types of waste on a daily basis. “We’re looking at all of the different waste streams, whether it’s CPG, farms, retail, or at the distributor level,” Murphy says. Their partnerships range from Plenty, a vertically farmed greens company in growth mode, to Cowgirl Creamery, whose short-coded and surplus cheeses they incorporate throughout the menu.

The rule is that every dish has to have at least one ingredient that’s rescued, but the duo says that most contain several. Expect the menu to change and evolve along with seasonal waste, but here’s a look at five dishes that show what Shuggie’s is all about.

Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s
Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s

1. Bobo’s The Pep, The Roni

“I’m a pepperoni guy, I love pepperoni pizzas, so I wanted that to be what I base all my other pizzas off,” Murphy says. It starts with the dough, of course, which incorporates flour made from milked oats by Renewal Mill and whey, a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. His goal was to make grandma-style pizza, but with super thin crust that’s crackery and slightly charred. For tomato sauce, he uses Stanislaus’ 7/11 canned tomatoes. For cheese, it’s your typical low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella. “There are certain things that you can’t f— with. You have to kind of skew traditional in order to produce a pizza that’s good enough for people to think it’s worth it to fight food waste and climate change, and all those lofty goals that we have,” he says. 

Finally, he tops it with pepperoni matchsticks, honey, and chile oil made of dried Thai chiles and chile de arbol. It’s a spicy pie, and so it’s recommended to add dollops of cloud-like ricotta fluff for an extra $4, which Murphy makes by folding whipped heavy cream in with housemade ricotta.

2. Spicy ‘N’ Sticky Fish Collar

Shuggie’s partners with Monterey Fish Market to rescue local varietals of seafood that are lesser known (and therefore don’t sell) or off-cuts of fish, including collar. In this dish, fish collar — which is likely to be halibut or salmon, depending on the day — is coated in a Vietnamese-style fish sauce caramel and sprinkled with chopped pickled Thai chiles, tempura flakes, green onion trim, and fresh herbs. 

Abe comes from a Japanese household, where fish collar is prized. Yet most Americans aren’t familiar with the bony, tender cut. “All of these off-cuts are culturally specific, and we’re just trying to get people out of their standard, U.S. palate and be a little more exploratory,” Abe says.

Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s
Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s

3. Buffalo Everything

For this dish, chicken wings are roasted along with braised chicken feet, then combined with cornmeal-fried livers and hearts, and tossed in a Calabrian chile-and-buttermilk sauce. It’s served with a side of dilly carrots from Ugly Pickle Co. and a salad of celery and its leaves. 

The dish is a nod to Murphy’s Texan background. “Back home, at all of the chicken shops, you’ll get livers, gizzards, hearts, all of that stuff. That’s just a normal part of the diet if you’re eating fried chicken,” Murphy says.

4. El Campeon

This pizza, which comes with ground beef, serrano, red onions, and Takis, is named after Shuggie’s plumber’s dog. The couple became close friends with their plumber throughout the restaurant’s extensive buildout, and would often attend his Friday night house parties. “They’d have this gal who was making these tripe tacos, and this little super aggressive Chihuahua,” Murphy says. 

At Shuggie’s, they crush the Takis up and then pour the bag of chips on top of the pizza, tableside. Soon, customers will have the option to add tripe onto El Campeon.

Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s
Photo by Erin Ng, courtesy of Shuggie’s

5. Two Bites of Chocolate

The one dessert on Shuggie’s menu is a layered custard that comes in a small-footed sundae glass. The bottom layer amounts to two bites of chocolate pot de creme. Then comes walnut butter made of Old Dog Ranch’s discolored walnuts and a crumble of banana peels that are steeped in simple syrup and deeply roasted, more walnuts, leftover pizza dough crumbs, and cocoa nib. It’s finished with banana crème fraîche and a showering of edible glitter dust.