By 1986, we had a fabulous sourdough crust and a remarkable pesto sauce too. Long-time Flying Pie-er Craig Barrus was personally interested in exploring pizza possibilities utilizing these new treasures. Oftentimes, when Howard would get off-shift, Friday nights, he’d say to Craig, “Mess me up something on sourdough.” Craig would create a pizza for Howard to enjoy. Over time, we started to vector in on pesto sauce, onions, garlic and Italian sausage.
One time Craig added some jalapeños, and that worked really well too, but it needed something to balance the spiciness. We kept coming back to roma tomatoes. Once we tried it with way too much garlic – eating a second slice actually put beads of sweat on our foreheads. Very slowly, over perhaps 6 months, the recipe developed. As it came into balance, the last two adjustments were to increase the tomatoes slightly, to make the pizza less challenging to consume.
When the pizza recipe was set, to the hundredth of a pound, we tried it out on Gourmet Night, where it received an enthusiastic reception.
The name for the pizza came from a late-night semi-inebriated customer who pointed right in-between a Zappi and a Zeppelin on the menu, and said, “Give me that Zambini.” Crew Leader Scot Johns was the Flying Pie-er who captured the name for future use!
The Zambini debuted in the 1987 menu, and quickly developed a loyal following. Among those loyalists, Dave and Sheila Mills stand out as remarkable. Dave and Sheila started to call in orders for 10-12 Zambini pizzas at a time, requesting that they be frozen. It took awhile to get the story behind these mysterious batches of Zambini pizzas. We learned that Sheila and Dave are the owners of Rocky Mountain River Tours. Sheila is also the author of several delightful Dutch oven cookbooks, based on the unreasonably stunning food they create for guests on their critically renowned 6-day Middle Fork Salmon River raft trips. Dave and Sheila would buy the pizzas while in Boise, and transport them up to Salmon, to share with folks on special occasions. Dave and Sheila have done this multiple times a summer, every year, for over 20 years now. They have introduced hundreds of people to Flying Pie, and the Zambini pizza!
Dave shares: “P.S. We have been known to place a Zambini on the engine air cleaner to heat it for dinner while driving from Boise to Salmon City…a 5 hour drive and we get hungry.” This makes it easy to recognize Dave and Sheila as “Customers most in love with the Zambini.” Sheila even developed a Dutch Oven Lasagna, inspired by the Zambini pizza, which is dinner on the first night of the 6 day trip through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness!