This restaurant fuses two classic ingredients into one
By Sara Edwards
Lobster is a magic word and ingredient in the culinary industry and it always stirs the creative spirit of chefs and cooks. Chef Marcus Roberto of Sampa’s Pizza Cafe in Marina del Rey had just obtained a liquor license for his business and wanted to find a proper way to celebrate this milestone in his restaurant’s story.
Sampa’s Pizza Cafe is having its own Summer Lobster Festival menu items with the debut of its new lobster pizza and pasta dishes.
“Lobster is such a great ingredient and people are always curious about it,” Roberto said. “So we decided to do a lobster pizza and pasta for the summer and see how it goes. People are very impressed.”
Sampa’s lobster pizza uses a champagne sauce topped with mozzarella cheese and large chunks of lobster mixed with Italian Gremolata sauce and arugula to balance out the flavors of the lobster.
Their summer menu also includes a lobster pasta entree, a fettuccine pasta dish tossed in champagne sauce and topped with large chunks of lobster and Italian gremolata sauce.
“The lemon zest, garlic, parsley and lemon juice breaks down the flavor in your palate and the combination is unbelievable,” Roberto said. “Lobster and champagne go really well together so I created this lobster sauce for the pizza and it came out really good.”
Roberto is an award-winning pizza chef who won first place in Best Brazilian Pizza Chef of the World twice and top five Best Overall Pizza Chef of the World in 2019 at the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy.
He earned his Pizza Chef Diploma from Balisco Academy in Italy and also attended the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Sao Paulo, also known as the “Pizza Capital of the World” because it eats the most pizza next to New York. Sao Paulo also has one of the largest number of Italian immigrants in the world which has earned it the reputation of having the most tasteful pizzas in the world.
Roberto wanted to bring those flavors to Los Angeles and opened his first Sampa’s Pizza Cafe in Lomita in 2017. He opened his second location in Marina del Rey opened the same day one year later and was voted best pizza shop by The Argonaut.
Roberto fuses the tastes of his Brazilian roots with Italian influences and techniques and a California twist to create pizza’s that burst with flavor and switch up classic pizza flavors. Sampa Pizza Cafe serves traditional pizzas like the Marguerita, meat lovers and Hawaiian, but the real palate-changers are the Brazilian specialty pizzas.
The Sao Paulo starts with a layer of fresh tomato sauce and topped with chicken, corn and catupiry — a special blend of cheese imported from Brazil- and cheese while the Portuguesa is topped with ham, onions, hard-boiled eggs, olives and cheese.
Roberto will be competing in a pizza-making competition from August 17 to 19 in Las Vegas. He competed at this competition previously in 2018 where he won Best Pizza Chef outside of Italy and came in 50th place out of 800 chefs from 42 different countries.
“Basically I treat the pizza as a bread and with my ingredients, I want to take this person back to a simpler time and make them happy,” Roberto said.