Mediterra Bakehouse was founded by Nick Ambeliotis, whose history with food and breads goes way back. When Nick was growing up, his father, Michael Ambeliotis, owned a grocery store in Ohio. Eventually, Nick took it over and immediately started stocking the shelves with obscure, hard-to-find ingredients from around the world. This led Nick to a wide-ranging career scouring Europe for the finest cheeses, olive oils, pasta, and charcuterie. Along the way, he developed an appreciation for well-made artisan breads that became a true passion. Eventually, he left his job, sold his house, and put everything he had into building our commercial artisan bakery.
“At Mediterra Bakehouse, our mission is to take one of the oldest and simplest forms of food known to man and perfect it. To take flour, water, and salt and pursue perfection. I still haven’t found it.”
-NICK AMBELIOTIS, OWNER & FOUNDER, MEDITERRA FOODS
In 2001, Nick founded our Pittsburgh bakery, Mediterra Bakehouse. In 2002, he rented a modest 4,000 square foot unit in an industrial park just outside of downtown Pittsburgh. Eventually, he recruited the help of his children: Mike, Anthony, Nicole, and Nick. Today, following 15 years of relentless growth, our family business has gobbled up nearly 40,000 square feet at our Pittsburgh headquarters, allowing us to serve local farmers markets and patrons, as well as commercial clients including local restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and resorts.
WE BELIEVE IN TRADITION
At Mediterra, we bake artisan breads using traditional French methods. Instead of commercial yeast, Mediterra bread relies solely on natural sourdough starters called levain, which allow them to achieve their rise, distinct sourdough tang and nourishing nutritional value. Each of our loaves is slowly fermented, proofed in willow baskets or tucked into French linen, and then cut, weighed and shaped by hand. Finally, each loaf is loaded into one of our French hearth ovens, built onsite by a seventh-generation French company. With more than 30,000 pounds of firebrick and a baking surface comprised of volcanic rock from the Alps, these ovens help to maintain consistent temperatures throughout the bread.
WE DON’T COMPROMISE ON QUALITY
We are committed to quality, and use the best ingredients possible. For many of our breads, the baking process begins in Arizona, where we grow our own organic heritage red fife grain on 35 acres of land, using no conditioners or extenders. Once the grain is harvested, the entire milling process is done in-house using stone-ground Austrian milling equipment. Milling our grain the old fashioned way makes a huge difference in the flavor of the bread, and in doing so, we are able to retain the maximum amount of nutrients.
When we aren’t using our own grains, we depend on the highest quality organic, non-GMO, unbleached and unbromated flours. We substitute sugar with natural, raw honey. Our water is filtered, and we only use sea salt. We source ingredients locally as often as possible, and slow-ferment each and every bread to ensure nutrient retention and the best possible flavor. At Mediterra, quality comes first - always.
WE KNOW THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO GREATNESS
Our time-honored baking techniques are as simple as our breads ingredient list: a long, slow fermentation process that can last for up to 18 hours, hand kneading, and stone hearth, steam injected ovens that produce a perfectly chewy, satisfying crust. At our bakehouse, we refuse to cut corners or take shortcuts.
While the added time of the fermentation is costly, and working with natural starters can be unpredictable, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The basic fundamental is that we must always hand shape, ferment in small batches and not compromise the process. We believe that patience, hard work, and knowledge produce the best product.
WE HAVE A PASSION FOR GREAT BREADs
Since day one, it has been our mission to take one of the oldest and simplest forms of food known to man and perfect it. We start with real ingredients like cold water, unblemished flour, and 50-year-old levain starter fed daily by hand from our staff. We take flour, water, and salt and pursue perfection - it’s that simple.