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Meet Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith of Bettina

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith.

Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith first bonded over their love of carbohydrates while he was working as the head baker at Roberta’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn and she was selling specialty foods, like wild mushrooms and local dairy, to restaurants in New York City.

When Brendan was offered a new job in California only a few months after they first met, the two decided to move West for a calmer and sunnier lifestyle. After about six months in the Santa Ynez Valley, the couple decided to buy a mobile pizza oven and launch a catering business focused on naturally leavened wood-fired pizza.

With Autostrada, Rachel and Brendan were able to build up a network of followers and eventually met the owner of the Montecito Country Mart, where their restaurant Bettina is now located.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been mostly smooth! The biggest challenge was getting through the permitting and construction process. It took us about a year from when we submitted our plans to the city of Santa Barbara until we were able to start construction.

Then construction began on the day of the tragic Montecito mudslides. We were really fortunate that we had the catering business to keep us going while we were waiting to open.

Finding enough back of house staff has been another struggle, but I think that’s fairly common for restaurants everywhere, even in big cities.

Bettina – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our biggest focus has always been on our naturally leavened pizza. Brendan was formally trained as a sourdough bread baker, and we see our crust as the foundation of what makes our pizza delicious. We slow-ferment our dough for over 48 hours and then cook it for two minutes in our wood-fired oven to get a blistered, puffy crust with a gentle chewy interior. We don’t use commercial yeast in our pizza dough or breads.

Our wood-fired bread and focaccia are both made using the traditional sourdough method as well. We’re also super proud of our sourcing. We go to the Santa Barbara farmer’s markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays to ensure that the majority of our produce and citrus come from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. All of our flour comes from Central Milling and is both sustainably milled and organic.

Our canned tomatoes are organic San Marzano tomatoes grown in Los Gatos, CA, while our cured meat comes from artisans in the Mid-West like ‘Nduja Artisans and Smoking Goose Meatery. We strive to find the best quality ingredients and then keep recipes simple to better showcase them.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Finally opening to the public after working at the restaurant for over two years. It’s really special to be engaging with so many people and to see the happiness on their face when they take a bite or run into a friend or try something new. We’re also really proud to be employing so many people. We have over 30 employees at our little restaurant! Job creation is real. 🙂

Pricing:

  • Appetizers range from $5-$17
  • Pizzas are around $14-20 on average
  • Wines by the glass and cocktails range from $12-$16

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bottle Branding, Jacqueline Pillar Photography

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