All-Deaf Pizzeria is All-Good: Human Communication is More than Words

Melody Stein always dreamed of opening a world-class pizzeria — and as with everything else in life, she wasn’t going to let being deaf get in her way.

"I always wanted to become the third generation in the family to own and manage a restaurant,” she said. "Being deaf, I thought it was a far-fetched dream, but thanks nowadays due to change of attitudes and laws, I felt I had the chance. So, when my husband, Russell, said he would support me, I went for it!"

Why Mozzeria in San Francisco Celebrates the Language of Food

At Mozzeria in San Francisco's Mission District, the language of food takes on a meaning beyond the exquisite flavors associated with their signature Peking Duck pizza or the Hosui Pear Pizza. Owners Russell and Melody Stein are both Deaf, as is their entire staff. But in an industry defined by taste, flavor and nuance, their circumstances are secondary to the superiority of their food.

Video: Checking In On Mozzeria, The Deaf-Owned Pizzeria On 16th

San Francisco's first deaf-owned restaurant, and the only deaf-owned-and-operated restaurant anywhere in the country, Mozzeria, will celebrate four years in business this December. As of last year, they just added a food truck to the mix, bringing their Neapolitan pizzas to people who might be too shy to come to the restaurant, where all the staff is deaf, and where you often have to write your orders down.

Video: Small Business Revolution profiles Mozzeria, San Francisco’s deaf-owned pizzeria

Since first opening Mozzeria back in 2011, owners Melody and Russell Stein, have received a great deal of praise and attention for their Mission District pizzeria.

The first restaurant operated by a deaf couple in a major city and staffed entirely by deaf employees — as well as being the first deaf-owned restaurant to get certification from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) — it’s the Stein’s delicious pizzas that ultimately keep their fans coming back.

This Restaurant Hires Deaf People Only, Voted Bay Area’s Top 10 Dishes

Many hungry Californians visit Mozzeria for a slice of their legendary pizza, but they get more than a tasty meal: They receive a dining experience unlike anything they’ve ever had.

Melody and Russell Stein, both of whom are deaf, founded Mozzeria in San Francisco after traveling to Italy to learn the art of pizza making. They chose to hire an all-deaf staff – in part to provide a comfortable place for deaf people to work, and in part to help bridge a gap between the hearing and non-hearing communities by showing them that understanding each other is not as challenging as it seems.

Small Business Revolution – Mozzeria San Francisco, CA (Video with Captions)

Located in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, Mozzeria is a restaurant specializing in pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven. Menu items range from the classic Margherita pizza, to a Hosui Pear pizza, to a Peking Duck pizza, which was voted one of the 10 best dishes in the entire Bay Area in 2013 by Zagat. Upon walking through the doors, customers will also discover something unexpected: the staff and owners, Melody and Russell Stein, are mostly deaf.

Welcome to Mozzeria!

San Francisco's Mozzeria restaurant is not only Deaf-owned, it is Deaf-staffed. Learn more about Melody and Russell Stein's world-class pizzeria in this remarkable six-minute short film. 

Mozzeria Mobile Pizzeria Trolley

The Mozzeria Trolley was part of today's GFood Truck Launge near work, so I decided to give it a try.

The Mobile Pizzeria launched at the end of 2014 with a tour in different cities in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California.

The ordering process is pretty much the same as in any other food truck, the difference is that instead of getting an order number, or a paper ticket, you get a sign language card with a letter. Melody & Russell Stein, the owners, have beautifully integrated sign language in the ordering process and in their logo.

Five Budget-Friendly Fixed-Price Menus in the Bay Area


$25-$30/groups of six to eight

Melody Stein grew up in a Chinese home eating all her meals family-style, and wanted to bring the experience to the pizzeria she runs with her husband, Russ Stein. At Mozzeria, groups of six to eight choose between two menus.

To start, there’s house-made burrata, eggplant Parmesan and the signature Mozzeria Bar, Stein’s Goliath version of a mozzarella stick. Neapolitan-style pizzas follow, with toppings that span traditional Margherita to Peking duck with English cucumbers and hoisin sauce. Dessert is for dunkers — bomboloni (round Italian doughnuts) filled with apple-lemon curd with a dipping sauce of melted chocolate. The menu changes seasonally.

Places that Rock: Five Points Pizza / Mozzeria / Pizzeria Verita

Mozzeria’s Mobile Pizza Trolley is an iconic piece of the Bay Area and complements the brick-and-mortar restaurant. Melody and Russ Stein opened Mozzeria in 2011. It is one of the country’s only deaf owned and operated restaurants to a mostly hearing clientele. The phone doesn’t ring at Mozzeria. Instead a system of visually pleasing LED lights throughout the restaurant notifies staff of incoming calls. The Mission District pizzeria offers a variety of small plates, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and house-made desserts. Small plates include a Charcuterie Plate ($15). The pizza menu features the Raicchi with gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, truffle honey, pea and almond ($17) and the Peking Duck with hoisin, spring onion, sesame seed and cucumber ($20).

Deaf Restauranteurs Thrive Through Approach To Communication

At its launch in 2011, many people would have argued against the survival of Mozzeria, another pizza restaurant, in San Francisco. But survive it has, Mozzeria proving that the Deaf owners, Melody and Russell Stein have developed something in using Deaf staff that appeals to the wider San Francisco community.