In 2013, Zach Swemle opened NYC’s Mission Cantina as executive chef and soon thereafter met Marlee Blodgett, who would open the restaurant on the front of house team. It wasn’t long until they learned of one another’s great affinity for Neapolitan pizza, among other things. Marlee had a long history with pizza through her father’s 20 year tenure with California Pizza Kitchen and Zach had spent his early twenty's in San Francisco, cooking and refining his pizza skills as sous chef at SF’s favorited Pizzeria Delfina. It was meant to be. Over the course of the next year, Zach went on to follow his calling through an executive sous position at Il Buco Alimentari, bringing him closer to his love of simple and ingredient driven Italian cooking. All the while, Marlee continued to expand and acknowledge her adoration of food and wine, while serving nightly at Estela. In time, the two would pack up their small city apartments and kiss goodbye their weekly Peter Luger burgers for a slower paced life and a real home in Charleston, South Carolina-and thus, La Morra Pizzeria was born.
In 2016, Zach built a mobile Neapolitan pizza oven-from the bed of the trailer, to the finishing tiles-by hand in the backyard of their Charleston home, while simultaneously developing his recipe for a naturally leavened dough. The two would spend the next year trailing the oven around town, cooking pies and gathering quite the following. While they adored the southern charm very much, they would acknowledge their love of a big city and make their way west to Los Angeles in summer of 2017, trailing La Morra behind them. Stay tuned as their story continues to grow and please, have some pizza along the way.