Sometimes I think Sonoma County needs another pizzeria about as much as it needs another vineyard. With top-notchers at every turn—from World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani’s spot at the Graton Casino to Rosso Pizzerias in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, Vignette Pizzeria in Sebastopol and Pizzando in Healdsburg (though my Friday-night go to is still Mombo’s) — we’re not hurting for a slice.
But when two DIY chain pizzerias hit town, serving up piping hot bespoke pies in minutes, it was hard to take the whole thing too seriously. Thus was born the Persona vs Pieology battle. Lemme break it down, and you can make the choice:
Pieology: Thin crusts that are pre-made (ie: they’re not stretching them at the counter). A nice selection of toppings—if rather mundane—include red sauce, Alfredo, buffalo, pesto and BBQ along with the usual suspects of pepperoni, tomatoes, pineapple, meatballs, etc. Pluses include three types of crust (whole wheat and gluten free along with the classic), “Favorites” for the less creative—Rustic Veggie, Meat, Alfredo; and passable pre-made salads. The pies have very thin crusts, and an average eater can bust through a pie alone with ease. Sharing? Not if you’re hungry. Plus: Very kid friendly menu. Minus: Gourmet pizzas aren’t their thing, too small to share, salads are pre-made and toppings are ho-hum. Prices range from $6.95 to $7.95 per pizza. Pizzas are cooked in a stone fired oven. 2280 Mendocino Ave., Suite B, Santa Rosa, website.
Persona: Recently opened in the former Arrigoni’s (701 Fourth St., Santa Rosa), this small chain (the other is in Santa Barbara) of pizzerias features a small wood-fired oven that cooks your pizza at 800 degrees in about 90 seconds. Created by World Pizza Champion Glenn Cybulski, the dough is hand-stretched to order, and uses “00” Caputo flour (what the pros use). On top: Serious bases of marinara, pesto, “bianca”(olive oil and garlic), and Margherita. Choose from pepperoni, Sopressata, meatball, anchovies, prosciutto, bacon, seasonal local veggies, pine nuts, caramelized onions, arugula, blue cheese and three types of mozzarella. You see where I’m headed here. Pre-thought-out pies include a meat pizza (Carne), buffalo blue cheese and the winner of the World Pizza Competition in Napoli, the Chipotle Chicken, loaded with mozzarella, roasted chicken, chipotle sauce and fresh pico, its a bit gimmicky, but ends up being seriously addictive.
Other plusses: OMG burrata salad (that’s fresh mozzarella with creamy ricotta in the middle), beets, arugula and vinaigrette. And…one of those fun digital Coke machines that make pretty much any flavored soda under the sun (I know, dumb, but my kids love them). Pizzas are easily enough for two unless you’re a huge eater, and with a salad, there’s plenty left over for another meal. Minuses: Pizzas are a bit more expensive: $7.95 to $15.50 (most are about $11). website
The Win: Persona.