Matthew Kosoy at work early in the morning at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica on Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Matthew Kosoy at work early in the morning at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica on Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

The secret to Rosalind Bakery’s tangy sourdough? The Pacific Ocean

Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Matthew Kosoy’s favorite Jewish foods growing up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, were latkes and a bagel spread with all the fixings. Living so close to Philadelphia, his bread of choice was a white hoagie roll.

Artisanal bread as he came to know it in the Bay Area — a dense, crusty loaf made with locally milled, organic heirloom grains — not so much.

Now the owner of Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica, he began a quest 10 years ago to make the perfect sourdough loaf. At first it was a “compulsion,” he said, and later a “commitment.”

That commitment paid off. Last month his dense, tangy Coastside Sourdough Loaf made it onto the San Francisco Chronicle’s best sourdough list, which described it as a “shiny, holey web of gluten with a pronounced tang.”

Kosoy didn’t move to the Bay Area in 2012 to bake bread; he came to Pacifica mainly to surf, which he still does as often as possible. He had no idea that his new environs would also be ideal for fermentation — that was a happy accident.

Rosalind, located in the Pacific Manor shopping center, is a short walk from the beach. “It doesn’t get too hot or too cold here,” he said. “The ocean has a powerful effect on the atmosphere, with both humidity and salinity in the air. It’s a special environment for making a fermented product, specifically bread. It’s all about being slow and low and consistent; that’s what yeast and lactobacilli need. And love.”

Freshly baked loaves of bread sit on a rack at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Freshly baked loaves of bread sit on a rack at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Kosoy opened Rosalind in 2019, and last year decided to take advantage of the “Vacant to Vibrant” grants program offered by San Francisco to revitalize downtown. In October he opened a second branch at Four Embarcadero Center, taking over the site of a former cafe.

The baked goods are driven up fresh from the mothership in Pacifica each morning. The new business is “growing, but not thriving.” People seem to be coming into offices mainly Tuesday through Thursday, he said. (S.F. hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays.) Nevertheless, he has a five-year lease and a good deal on the rent, and he plans eventually to open seven days a week. So far he has his bread, pastries, cookies and a menu of coffees on offer, and “sandwiches are on the way.”

One of Kosoy’s first jobs as a teen was in a hoagie shop. Sandwich culture is big in the Philly area, and “the best part of a sandwich is its bread,” he said matter-of-factly. “That led to my interest in bread, pizza, bagels, noodles, pasta.”

Now, he loves “the biology and the science and the troubleshooting and the creativity” of making bread. “It’s the most amazing job. There’s nothing like it.”

Kosoy, 44, named Rosalind after his maternal grandmother, in honor of where he came from and his Jewish roots. “She was more of the Jewish influence in my family,” he said.

His interest in bread started as a hobby. He worked as a web developer for years and on weekends would drive to Tartine in the Mission District for its legendary bread.

Russell Bongard (left) and Matthew Kosoy shape dough at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Russell Bongard (left) and Matthew Kosoy shape dough at Rosalind Bakery in Pacifica, Jan. 18, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

When the New York Times cooking section published a recipe of Tartine’s country bread in 2014, Kosoy’s mother sent it to him. That sparked his quest to bake the perfect loaf, and in 2016 he began thinking of turning his bread obsession into a business.

He began baking out of his home with a cottage food license, and then moved on to selling at the Coastside Farmers Market, held Wednesdays in Pacifica and Saturdays in Half Moon Bay. He still sells there.

In addition to the signature hard-crusted Coastside loaf, Rosalind makes a sesame rye, but not the traditional Jewish type; this one is a sourdough made with the not-so-secret ingredient of tahini. The bakery is also known for its sandwich rolls and pastries, plus several flavors of croissants including chocolate, almond and almond-walnut. Kosoy is especially proud of his hibiscus bear claw and a chocolate chip cookie he’s perfected with high-quality brown sugar. Rosalind also does a very small batch of sourdough challahs at the High Holidays.

Rosalind breads are sold at some markets, such as San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market. Soon the Pacifica shop will be open some evenings and offer house-baked Roman pizza. While ideally Kosoy wants to continue growing, “I’d like to get better before we get bigger. I want to grow as a baker technically and creatively. I just want to have the best and continue to offer unique breads that are done well at a modest scale.”

Kosoy said that despite the hard work and often crazy hours (J. photographer Aaron Levy-Wolins met him at 4 a.m. for a photo shoot), he wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

“I feel lucky to be able to do this,” he said. “Some people could perceive it as a negative because of the commitment that it takes, but I find such joy in it. It’s like magic. I’m lucky to be able to do this every day and to have this workshop where we make bread and food at such a high level.”

Rosalind

450 Manor Plaza, Pacifica, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and Four Embarcadero Center, No. 4504, near Drumm and Sacramento streets, S.F., 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."