The head chef and the baker at Oysterhead Pizza Co. have taken over the popular wood-fired eatery in downtown Damariscotta.
After a one-month closure for an ownership transition, head chef Nick Krunkkala and baker Caroline Zeller reopened Oysterhead April 28, adding breakfast and lunch sandwiches to the menu.
The eatery will now be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, serving breakfast sandwiches and “schmears” on Oysterhead’s well-loved bagels.
After a half-hour break to prepare for dinner, it will reopen on those days from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., or until ingredients run out, Krunkkala said during an interview with him and Zeller on May 3.
All the ingredients are fresh and freshly prepared and everything is utilized during the cooking process, so sometimes things simply run out like they did this past Sunday.
“It’s like a chef’s dream to not have to waste anything,” Krunkkala said. “We have zero food waste. Everything we make is used.”
Even closing early on Sunday, Krunkkala said the opening weekend “rivaled a summer week” for business.
Oysterhead is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open for dinner on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., although Krunkkala said lunch service will soon be offered on Wednesdays as well. Friday’s hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Some of the new breakfast offerings are a classic egg sandwich on a bagel and a sausage, gravy, and biscuits dish.
One of the lunch sandwiches is the Spider Rico, inspired by a Philly pulled pork sandwich. Another is a chopped cheese and steak sandwich with Big Mac-like “special sauce” called the Sedgewick Ave.
Krunkkala likes to name his menu items, like the specialty pizzas and sandwiches, after obscure movie references, he said. For instance, the Spider Rico is named after the first boxer Rocky fought in the first Rocky movie.
Other items on the menu, like pizza and small plate side dishes, change every month or so. However, if a customer has a past favorite, it can always be requested, he said.
“Pizzas that we’ve had on the menu in the past, if you’re a regular customer, you can pretty much always ask for an older pizza. We’ll usually have the ingredients available,” Krunkkala said.
Krunkkala purchased the business from owners Alex and Rachel Nevens, who opened Oysterhead Pizza in 2019.
Alex Nevens said by phone on May 3 that he and his wife want to focus more on the Newcastle Publick House, a restaurant they own where he said their “heart and soul is.” He said it seemed like the right time and good opportunity for the transition to new ownership.
“We’re happy for Nick’s opportunity. We know he’s going to do a great job, he’s a great chef,” Alex Nevens said.
Krunkkala and Zeller were in on the ground floor from the beginning at Oysterhead Pizza and also said it felt like a good fit to take over.
Krunkkala lives in Damariscotta and said he has enjoyed working at Oysterhead because “everybody enjoys pizza.”
“It gave me a nice sense of being part of the community and having a good work-life balance,” Krunkkala said.
The duo works well together, complementing each others’ skills, Krunkkala said.
“It’s a perfect work marriage,” he said.
Zeller specializes in making the pizza dough that is naturally risen from a sourdough starter and she said her knowledge and skills in the kitchen are always expanding.
She had the idea to make bagels when thinking about how to use the residual heat from the wood-fired pizza oven early in the mornings.
The oven can reach 700 degrees and after being turned off at night, Zeller said it still is at a temperature of about 450 degrees in the morning when she makes the bagels.
The bagels have and continue to be a popular item and sell out quickly.
“People do come in the door just looking for the bagels,” Zeller said.
Oysterhead Pizza Co. also has a new phone number, 563-6816. It is located at 189 Main St., Damariscotta.