This Pizza Prodigy Has Pie in the Sky Dreams for Ocean City

After years of turmoil, the region’s best pizza maker is ready to try it all again — in Ocean City.

shore pizza Mike Fitzick Bakeria 1010

Mike Fitzick and one of his famous pies at Bakeria 1010 / Photography by Michael Persico

It was January at its dreariest, and Mike Fitzick, the 2004 college dropout and Mack & Manco delivery boy who would eventually become the Shore’s pizzaiolo par excellence, was coming off a year with more ups and downs than the Double Shot on Playland pier.

December 2022: Forced to close Bakeria 1010 in his hometown of Linwood when the landlord booted the tenants of the Exchange food court. January 2023: Came to Philly to open Bar 1010, a pizzeria and full-service restaurant, in Northern Liberties. July 2023: Out at Bar 1010 after partnership disputes; in at Express Pizza & Subs, the longtime Ocean City slice shop Fitzick used to frequent as a teenage surf rat and later worked at in his early 20s.

Following a balls-to-the-wall summer and early fall during which his updates to the thin, blistery cornmeal-dusted pies put Express on the pizza-cognoscenti radar, Fitzick says, “I had mild imposter syndrome.” Business had slumped into an inevitable winter hibernation that he hadn’t really experienced on the mainland in Linwood, just 10 minutes over the 9th Street bridge and up Route 9 but spiritually a world away from the island’s extreme seasonal rhythm. He found himself sitting in the pizzeria’s royal-blue vinyl booths and wondering, “What am I doing in my life? I gotta get something going.”

That something was a series of Bakeria pop-ups while the Express closed for a month-long renovation. Though Fitzick made his name in the pop-up circuit under the Instagram handle @PizzaJew, he hadn’t done an event like that since 2018, and he was stressed no one would come. His worries were unfounded. From Ventnor to Somers Point to Linwood to Northfield, “It was just bedlam every single time,” he says, with old Bakeria devotees lining up to collect the focaccia-light square pies fenced with Detroit-style cheese frizzles that have made Fitzick famous. “It was like, ‘Oh. everybody’s still here,”’ he says. “I understood this is still what I wanted.”

Then Tia Ventresca Silk slid into Fitzick’s DMs. The Moorestown-based real estate developer and Margate summer resident had just acquired a shuttered Mexican restaurant on a high-profile block of Asbury Avenue in Ocean City. “I missed his pizza, and so did everyone down the Shore,” Silk says. “I was just a fan and never thought he would even respond to my DM.”

He did. Fitzick amicably split from the Express (whose pizza is still impeccable, by the way) and in May resurrected Bakeria 1010 on Asbury Avenue. “I can’t believe I got to do it over,” he says. Same long-fermented dough. Same square pans. Same Spicy Roni, streaked with hot honey, polka-dotted with caramelized jalapeño slices and convex nickels of pepperoni bearing soupçons of vermilion pork fat. The square and round pies cook in a pair of Bakers Pride ovens, which he’s been dialing in for the ramp-up to the summer crush.

“This is a volume area, dude,” Fitzick says. That means the regular early sell-outs that contributed to the Linwood Bakeria’s mystique aren’t going to play in August in O.C. “Don’t get me wrong; we will be selling out,” he says. “But it’s gonna be much later.”

Published as “The Slice Meister” in the June 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.