Pizza | Sonoma Magazine BiteClub http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub Restaurant & Dining Reviews for Sonoma, Santa Rosa and the Wine Country Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:41:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/cropped-512_logo-150x150.gif Pizza | Sonoma Magazine BiteClub http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub 32 32 From Stock Brokers to Pizza Brokers: Sonoma’s Vineyard Crust Co. http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/from-stock-brokers-to-pizza-brokers-sonomas-vineyard-crust-co/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/from-stock-brokers-to-pizza-brokers-sonomas-vineyard-crust-co/#comments Mon, 01 May 2017 18:25:41 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=35121

Philly suits leave the grind for a life making wood-fired pizza in Sonoma County.

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BY KATHLEEN HILL, Sonoma Index-Tribune

I first encountered former stock brokers Jimmy Crompton and Randy Martin outside their Vineyard Crust Company pizza tent at the Sonoma International Film Festival a few weeks ago. In a hurry to fly to Napa on my magic carpet to interview a fabulous gelato maker, I stopped desperately at their stand and wood-burning oven and asked how long it would take to get some pizza.

90 seconds. What? And that’s for extra crispy.

Putting the flat pizza box on the passenger’s seat, I tore out my first piece and chomped into it, stomach growling away. Oh my word! Sensational.

So who are these two guys running a super successful mobile pizza oven around Sonoma County (and coming soon to the Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market in Sonoma)?

The two longtime friends grew up in Philadelphia, with Martin learning to cook at a young age. With a single working mom, Martin made meals for himself and his brother out of what he could find in the fridge and cabinets. Now, that’s called creative cooking.

The two eventually became stockbrokers, eventually working as derivative brokers at the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange.

Having been exposed to Polish, German, and Italian cooking in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Martin liked hanging out at his friend’s grandmother’s, partly because of her pasta and meatballs and wondered how she made her “gravy,” or sauce. He first tried to imitate her “gravy” by opening a can of tomato paste he found in his mother’s kitchen and adding water.

Later in life he needed a peaceful hobby while working in the men-dominated, noisy, and crowded floors of stock exchanges.

Both he and Crompton lusted after the simple life of “making people happy with food.”

So, while still living in Philadelphia, a friend asked the two to cater her wedding inexpensively. Having no clue what to do, they said yes anyway. Overnight Martin produced chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta and spinach with Champagne sauce and roasted baby carrots, to the wedding couple’s delight. They hired a friend to bartend because they figured he drank the most and should know how to mix a solid cocktail and pour wine. And they served pizzas.|

Crompton and Martin figured they had the confidence and could figure out how to do whatever they needed to do, and they did. Married to former Swiss Hotel staffer Danielle Reynolds, Crompton says, “We like to go out on a ledge. We’ll figure it out, and have lots of other concepts and plans.”

“The keystone of Vineyard Crust Company is our custom Mugnaini wood-fired oven imported from Italy, specializing in artisan wood-fired pizza made with great quality local ingredients,” says their website. With 800-plus degrees of heat blasting out, their oven is a serious piece of equipment.

Vineyard Crust Company’s catering menu includes everything from Margherita and Italian sausage with roasted peppers to more adventurous pizzas like fresh mozzarella with salt-cured capers and olives, smoked salmon with fromage blanc and dill, smoked pork belly with pineapple and sweet banana pepper spread or fig preserves with proscuitto, gorgonzola and balsamic. They also do breakfast and brunch pizzas, salads and more.

Martin admits, “We stick to the classic Neapolitan style of pizza, but we do Sonomanize it a little bit.”

The duo have lined up engagements at several winery and entertainment venues around the Valley. “We take our oven to places food trucks can’t get to.”

Portions of this article appeared in the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

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Local Pizza Gets a Farm-to-Table Makeover http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/borolo/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/borolo/#comments Sat, 15 Apr 2017 17:40:37 +0000 http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/?p=34829

Santa Rosa pizzeria makes their own pepperoni, use local artisan cheeses, produce for a unique pie.

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Ever wondered what exactly was in the pepperoni on your pizza? Probably better not to ask too many questions.

For that reason, we love the idea of a farm-to-table pizza takeout/delivery service that uses local meats, cheeses and produce for their creatively-inspired pies — including making their own pepperoni.

Cinnamon rolls with nutella at Borolo Pizza in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Borolo Pizza farm to table pies also makes cinnamon rolls. Courtesy Photo.

The new owners of Borolo’s Pizza, a long-time Santa Rosa pizzeria, are bringing a sustainable, local philosophy to their original sourdough crust pies.

Working with farmers (including buying their own pigs), they’re creating one-of-a-kind pizzas including the Sonoma (spinach, mushrooms, onions, garlic, Estero Gold cheese), Pepperoni Blue Cheese with Point Reyes blue (surprisingly fascinating flavors that work), and possibly the world’s most perfect Hawaiian pizza, with Sonoma Meat Company bacon, organic pineapple and a bit of unicorn magic.

Borolo pizza, Sonoma Pizza. Heather Irwin/PD

We’re also fans of their house cinnamon buns, made with their own dough and topped with Nutella if you’ve got a sweet hankering. Pizzas come in medium and large, and range from $15 to $20 each.

Borolo’s Pizza is at 500 Mission Blvd. South, Santa Rosa, 707-539-3937, borolospizza.com.

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Brewpub Replacing Old Mexico in Santa Rosa http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/brewpub-replacing-old-mexico-in-santa-rosa/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/brewpub-replacing-old-mexico-in-santa-rosa/#comments Fri, 29 Apr 2016 21:19:51 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=32765 Old Mexico Restaurant in Santa Rosa will close after more than 50 years in business. (Facebook)

Brewpub will replace the 50-year-old Mexican restaurant in Santa Rosa

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Old Mexico Restaurant in Santa Rosa will close after more than 50 years in business. (Facebook)

Old Mexico to Become Mountain Mike’s?

After more than 50 years of serving Santa Rosa, the venerable Old Mexico Restaurant & Bar (4501 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa) is closing. The restaurant will serve its last margarita Sunday, May 1, 2016, according to owner Gus Lopez. Burgeoning restaurant mogul Sonu Chandi’s restaurant group has purchased the space, and is reportedly planning a Mountain Mike’s Brewpub for the location after an extensive remodel. This is the first brewpub concept for the pizza chain, and will include craft brews and a full bar.

The Chandi Restaurant Group, which includes his two brothers and wife, currently own five Mountain Mike’s Pizza restaurants in Sonoma County, as well as Santa Rosa’s Stout Brothers, the recently-opened Bibi’s Burgers and the soon-to-open Craft 535 Kitchen + Bar (late May) in the former Caffe Portofino.

Lopez will continue with his barbecue catering company, Big Boy’s Bar-B-Que, and has plans for a future restaurant in Windsor.

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10 Best Pizza Pies in Sonoma County http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-county-pizza/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/sonoma-county-pizza/#comments Fri, 11 Mar 2016 17:59:36 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=32416 Mombo's Pizzeria (photo John Burgess/PD)

Here's where the best Friday night pizza -- the stuff that comes in a box with pepperoni and mushrooms -- can be found in Sonoma County.

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Mombo's Pizzeria (photo John Burgess/PD)

This isn’t your fancy wood-fired pizza, or pizza with four kinds of Brie. This is Friday night Pizza in Sonoma County. The ooey-gooey stuff you pull out of a box and eat with a paper towel. here are a handful of our favorite mom-and-pop spots for the Best Friday Night Pizza in Sonoma County. All of these were submitted by Biteclubbers.

1. NY Pie
Mike Petterssen has a favorite quote that pretty much sums up Americans’ universal love of pizza. “You can’t make everyone happy. You aren’t pizza,” says Petterssen, who owns NY Pie in downtown Santa Rosa. Pizza is the Friday night family dinner, with more than $38 billion in annual sales , primarily at mom and pop stores like Petterssen’s. It’s also the late night nosh, the quick lunchtime slice and the after-game fuel-up we all love.

“When kids get together, they don’t have hamburger parties,” Petterssen says.

And while fancy wood-fired, knife-and-fork style pizzas have their place, old school spots like NY Pie serve up thin-crust, tomato sauce and mozzarella pies meant to be shared. They require the Manhattan-style fold to cram a slice into your face, and they’re uniquely Italian-American.

“There should be a little grease running down your hands when you eat it,” adds Petterssen.

Best Friday Night Pizza in Sonoma County. This pizza is from Joey's in Santa Rosa. Photo: Heather Irwin (eater)

Best Friday Night Pizza in Sonoma County. This pizza is from Joey’s in Santa Rosa. Photo: Heather Irwin (eater)

He and his wife, Kristina, recently renovated the small pizzeria at the corner of Brookwood Avenue and Fourth Street, expanding the footprint of the original restaurant once owned by New Yorkers RJ and Camille Iervolino. Although the couple retired to Southern California, Petterssen says he frequently talks to them and continues to use the original recipes developed by Camille.

“The sauce is an old Italian recipe, and we fresh slice blocks of whole milk mozzarella. The real secret to a great New York style pizza is the recipe and ingredients.”

The Minnesota native, who has owned NY Pie for two years, says he loved being able to order pizza at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning — or pretty much any day — and having it arrive hot at his home, which is why he continues to provide daily delivery until 3 a.m. His busiest time? “Anytime after midnight.”

The pizzeria (65 Brookwood Ave., Santa Rosa, 526-9743) hasw 20 beers on tap, slices and an expanded menu including calzones and sandwiches. But Friday night pies will always be the heart and soul of his business, ranging from simple cheese to his best seller, the Godfather (with pepperoni, sausage, artichoke hearts and garlic).

“It’s just the funnest thing in the whole world to sell,” he says. “And we’ll always stay true to our New York roots,” he adds, which means that your pie will come with red pepper flakes and cheap Parmesan in a packet.

Here are some more local NY(ish)-style pies from pizzerias that offer late night delivery or pick-up, and the thin-crust, giant slices you can pick up, fold and share this weekend, with a smile on your face and just a little grease running down your fingers.

(Note: Call for delivery areas and hours, as they may vary.)

Gio's Pizza in Bennett Valley. Photo: Gios

Gio’s Pizza in Bennett Valley. Photo: Gios

2. Gio’s Pizza: This New York style pizzeria also was once owned by the Iervolinos and has stayed true to the founders’ vision. Friends say it’s the best slice in Sonoma County. Delivery 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays. 2700 Yulupa Ave., #5, Santa Rosa, 542-2797.

Mombo's Pizza in Santa Rosa California (mombo's website)

Mombo’s Pizza in Santa Rosa California (mombo’s website)

3. Mombo’s: There’s a reason the Santa Rosa outpost of this classic pizzeria is standing room only all weekend. It’s just darn good pizza. It’s our go-to on Friday nights, and we’re willing to wait the hour or two it takes for delivery during peak hours. Delivery available until 10 p.m. in Santa Rosa. Also, a selection of pizzas now available frozen. 1880B Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 528-3278. Sebastopol location open until 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, until 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 560 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, 823-7492.

4. Joey’s: Another neighborhood favorite, Joey’s has one of the largest pizza menus, including clam with garlic sauce and a cheeseburger pizza with mustard sauce and plenty of veggie options. Plus, you can get a slice of homemade cheesecake or Scooby Snacks (fried doughballs with cinnamon) added to your order. Late night weekend delivery until 1 a.m., 727 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 595-5639.

Italian style pizza with basil, tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella at La Vera restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Italian style pizza with basil, tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella at La Vera restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

5. La Vera: More than just a sit-down Italian restaurant, La Vera does a great take-out pizza. After 30 years in business, they know how to do pizza right. Slices available at lunch. Open until 9 p.m. daily, delivery via foodtoyou.com. 629 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 575-1113.

Simply Delicious Pizza in Santa Rosa. Courtesy of the PD.

Simply Delicious Pizza in Santa Rosa. Courtesy of the PD.

6. Simply Delicious: This West Santa Rosa pizzeria always gets big props for its family-friendly pizzas, which range from simple cheese to fancier versions with grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers. The crust is a little thicker than traditional NY style, but just as tasty. Open until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Dine in or pick up only. 2780 Stony Point, Santa Rosa, 579-2083.

Red Grape pizza in Sonoma. (PD archive)

Red Grape pizza in Sonoma. (PD archive)

7. Red Grape Pizza: Though this dine-in restaurant’s pizzas only come in one size (12 inch) and are a little fancier than the usual New York style slices, it is definitely where Sonoma residents go for their Friday night pizzas. Pizzas come in white (olive oil and garlic) or red (tomato sauce), and even the cheese version is special, with aged Parmesan and gouda. A personal favorite is pear and gorgonzola. Dine in or pick up only, 529 First St., West, Sonoma, 996-4103.

Sal's New Yorker Pizza (courtesy of Yelp)

Sal’s New Yorker Pizza (courtesy of Yelp)

8. Sal’s New Yorker Pizza: This 2014 newcomer to the pizza game is a favorite pizzeria of SSU students. Open until 9 p.m. daily, delivery available. 8270 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati, 664-8460.

Rafy's Pizzeria in Petaluma (courtesy of Yelp)Rafy's Pizzeria in Petaluma (courtesy of Yelp)

Rafy’s Pizzeria in Petaluma (courtesy of Yelp)

9. Rafy’s Pizzeria: A New Yorker who’s spent the year tossing pies in the Big Apple serves up authentic slices big as your head. Petalumans give it a big thumbs-up. Open daily until 9 p.m., delivery available, 615 E. Washington, Petaluma, 559-5735.

Forestville Pizza in Forestville

Forestville Pizza in Forestville (Forestville Pizza)

10. Forestville Pizza: A local winemaker took over the former Andorno’s several years ago, preserving as one of the few pizza spots in West County. A;though this definitely isn’t a late-night location, locals say it’s their favorite take-out spot, with delivery available daily from 5 p.m. 6490 Mirabel Road, Forestville, 887-9574.


Click here for even more stories about Pizza in Sonoma County on BiteClubEats.com

Have a favorite we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Persona vs. Pieology: An Epic Battle of the Fast Casual DIY Pizza Chains http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/persona-vs-pieology-an-epic-battle-of-the-fast-casual-diy-pizza-chains/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/persona-vs-pieology-an-epic-battle-of-the-fast-casual-diy-pizza-chains/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2015 19:14:46 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=31081 Chipotle Chicken Pizza from Persona in Santa Rosa

In an epic battle of the fast casual pizza chains, Persona vs. Pieology See who wins.

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Chipotle Chicken Pizza from Persona in Santa Rosa

Looks like Pieology wins because they’re still open. Persona closed 8/17

Chipotle Chicken Pizza from Persona in Santa Rosa

Chipotle Chicken Pizza from Persona in Santa Rosa


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 Pizza from @pieology

Pieology Pizza from @pieology

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.

Burrata and beet salad at Persona Pizza in Santa Rosa

Burrata and beet salad at Persona Pizza in Santa Rosa

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.

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Hazel Restaurant | Occidental http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/hazel-restaurant-occidental/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/hazel-restaurant-occidental/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:20:52 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=30917 Gorganzola pizza Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Hazel Restaurant in Occidental is quickly becoming a West County Sonoma Coast destination

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Gorganzola pizza Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Gorganzola pizza Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Gorganzola pizza Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

An 800-degree wood-fired oven isn’t for the faint of heart. Burning embers, live fire and blistering surfaces can be a logistical challenge, especially in a busy restaurant where pizzas, braised octopus and short ribs commingle inside not one, but two searingly hot wood-fueled ovens.

But they’re also the muscle of Jim and Michele Wimborough’s new Occidental restaurant, Hazel. Left by the previous owners of long-time French restaurant, Bistro des Copains, the ovens are being pressed into service for everything from house made sourdough loaves to whole braised branzino, perfectly-cooked pizzas, and every so often, pastry chef Michele’s chocolate chip cookies.

Schnitzel at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Schnitzel at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Far from the buzz of San Francisco, Berkeley and east Oakland, where the chef-couple worked at high turnover urban restaurants like Zut! Tavern, SF’s Boulevard, upscale Greek restaurant, Kokkari, and Zuni Kitchen, the Wimboroughs are settling into the country life in West County. With their hearts set on raising their fourth-grade son in the quieter reaches of Sonoma County, the couple fell in love with Occidental on a birthday trip for Jim. When the owners of the beloved Occidental eatery Bistro des Copains announced their retirement, the couple pounced on the spot.

Scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Heather Irwin.

Scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Heather Irwin.

“We just feel grateful that we get to live here, get to be part of this community,” said Michele.

After several months of renovation, Hazel restaurant opened in July to plenty of local fanfare — one of only a handful of eateries between Sebastopol and the North Coast. Already, local reviewers on Yelp are calling it “a new West County classic.”

Short Ribs with Polenta at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Short Ribs with Polenta at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

The Food: A creative mix of rustic Mediterranean and California cuisines, Tzatziki and grilled eggplant spread with pita olives and feta ($11) are menu-fellows to citrus-cured scallops with grapes, radish, lime and Calabrian chili ($9). And it works perfectly, tied together by hyperlocal ingredients and bold Mediterranean flavors.

“We want to keep it really simple,” said Jim. “Something everyone can understand and enjoy,” he added, saying that dishes like the sweet and savory eggplant dip that’s a simpler cousin to baba ganoush with smoky eggplant and the addition (in this version) of raisins are inspired by his time at Kokkari. For the tzatziki, a creamy cucumber dip, Jim uses Kefir cheese from Greece, giving it an almost sour cream-like bump.

 Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

You’ll find that many of the dishes featured on the menu are best-sellers from their past restaurants while, as Jim said, they feel out the locals to see what resonates. “People eat a lot more meat here than in Berkeley,” he said. “I thought I would be making a lot more vegetarian dishes, but everyone and their mom orders the ribeye ($29),” said Jim. Surprisingly, he added, whole Branzino (head, bones and all, $26) is also popular. “It’s a really cool dish that shows off what we can do with our oven,” he said.

Pita with eggplant at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Pita with eggplant at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

More must-try dishes:

Polenta with anything: After a family field trip to their neighbors at Valley Ford Cheese, the Wimborough fell in love with their Fontina-style Highway One, especially when a batch was a bit “funkier” that the usual aged cheese. “It adds to much flavor,” he said. We say: Cornmeal is almost an afterthought to this cheese and butter-laden side that will make you swoon. Piled with braised short ribs ($25), its almost too good to be legal, with plenty to share with your dining partner, I mean, if you’re generous like that.

Roasted Octopus ($11): Braised in red wine and rosemary, then seared, its tender and flavorful with white beans, grapefruit, orange, fennel and olives.

Roasted octopus at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Roasted octopus at Hazel Restaurant in Occidental. Photo Heather Irwin.

Mushroom Pizza ($14): A newcomer to the menu, roasted crimini mushrooms are blended into a sauce, with maitakes, Brie and truffle oil. Thicker than Neopolitan-style pizza, the fermented dough has plenty of crisp without the burnt taste. Valley Ford Gorgonzola with caramelized onions, walnuts and fig balsamic ($13) could benefit from some prosciutto, but maybe that’s just us.

Pork Schnitzel ($24): A forearm-sized schnitzel, of pounded pork that’s breaded, fried and served atop smashed potatoes with creme fraiche and bacon braised cabbage. Grab n Anderson Valley Boont Amber ($5) and you’ll wonder where the oompa band is hiding.

Branzino at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Hazel Restaurant

Branzino at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Hazel Restaurant

Roasted Bronzino ($26): The couple get this white-fleshed fish prized from the Mediterranean daily. A simple roast, with potatoes, leeks, tomatoes and white wine keep this dish really effortless.

Sourdough Bread Pudding ($8): Desserts, breads and pastries are also made in house by Jim’s wife, Michele. If it’s Friday, it’s Pie Day, so grab whatever she’s cooked up. We loved the sourdough bread budding with Bourbon caramel, chocolate, bananas and whipped cream, made with leftover sourdough she’s baked in the back oven. Most popular? The Hazel Sundae with salted caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, candied almonds and Amarena cherries, ($8)

Pot de Creme at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Heather Irwin.

Pot de Creme at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Heather Irwin.

If you go: Free corkage on Thursday nights if you bring a local bottle. The restaurant will begin serving brunch within a few weeks (call first), with Jim’s Great Grandma Hazel’s cinnamon rolls (she’s the restaurant’s inspiration and namesake). Located within stumbling distance of the popular bike route along Occidental Road, it will no doubt become a favorite morning ride refueling spot.

Oh, and remain calm if you hear the air raid siren wailing across the street. It’s just the local fire alert system, which locals are used to (but no doubt will have you looking like a deer in headlights). You know, unless it’s coming from the kitchen. Thing is, after eating at Hazel, we’re pretty confident the Wimboroughs have their live fires well under control.

Corn Pizza at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Hazel Restaurant

Corn Pizza at Hazel Restaurant. Photo: Hazel Restaurant

Hazel Restaurant: Open daily from 5p.m. to 10p.m.; 3782 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, (707) 874-6003, restauranthazel.com. Reservations recommended.

HAZEL_SIGN

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Persona Pizza coming to Arrigoni’s space http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/persona-pizza-coming-arrigonis-space/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/persona-pizza-coming-arrigonis-space/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 18:03:38 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=30120 Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

Persona Pizza, a DIY pizzeria that cooks up your pie in about 90 seconds, will open in downtown Santa Rosa, CA in March 2015.

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Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

Downtown Santa Rosa is getting a culinary shake-up as Persona Wood Fired Pizza gets ready to take over the former Arrigoni’s Deli. In what’s quickly becoming a trend in fast-casual dining, the pizzeria offers 12-inch top-your-own pizzas that are cooked in a wood-fired oven in about 90 seconds. Created by a top pizzaiolo (someone trained in the art of making pizza, notably Neopolitan-style) and a CIA-trained chef, Persona is based in Santa Barbara with plans to open more than twenty franchised stores in the Bay Area over the next several years.

And while we have nothing against good old pepperoni and mushroom, Persona will also offer up more gourmet toppings including prosciutto, Sopressata, pine nuts, arugula, burrito and blue cheese as well as the more conventional ones. A basic pizza will run about $8, but can quickly reach double digits with added toppings. Also in the lineup: A burrata and gelato bar. Noms.

Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

Persona Pizza will open in downtown Santa Rosa in March 2015

What’s notable is that Pieology, a similar DIY pizzeria, recently opened in Santa Rosa’s Safeway Shopping Center on Mendocino Ave.

And yes, it is the third pizzeria in downtown Santa Rosa. But really, can you ever have enough pizza?

Expect a March opening.

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Pieology Coming to Santa Rosa http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/pieology-coming-santa-rosa/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/pieology-coming-santa-rosa/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:40:03 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=30019 Pieology has stores throughout the West, and will soon open in Santa Rosa

Pizza chain Pieology, with more than 50 locations primarily in the Western U.S., is putting down stakes in Santa Rosa. The long-vacated Blockbuster store in the Mendocino Marketplace (2280 Mendocino Ave.) is slated to open later this month. The custom pie shop features DIY “artisan style” 11.5-inch pizzas, each under $10. Mix and match traditional […]

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Pieology has stores throughout the West, and will soon open in Santa Rosa

Pieology Coming to Santa Rosa

Pieology Coming to Santa Rosa

Pizza chain Pieology, with more than 50 locations primarily in the Western U.S., is putting down stakes in Santa Rosa. The long-vacated Blockbuster store in the Mendocino Marketplace (2280 Mendocino Ave.) is slated to open later this month. The custom pie shop features DIY “artisan style” 11.5-inch pizzas, each under $10.

Pieology has stores throughout the West, and will soon open in Santa Rosa

Pieology has stores throughout the West, and will soon open in Santa Rosa

Mix and match traditional or gourmet toppings (herb butter sauce, meatballs, gorgonzola cheese, roasted red peppers) and get it cooked to order in their stone oven. Ready in about five minutes, its fast food with a personal twist.

Related Images:

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Park 121 After Hours at Cornerstone http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/park-121-after-hours-at-cornerstone/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/park-121-after-hours-at-cornerstone/#respond Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:11:11 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=29136

Pizza, empanadas and wine tasting at Cornerstone gardens

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Park 121 After Hours Kitchen opens at Cornerstone gardens in Sonoma

Park 121 After Hours Kitchen opens at Cornerstone gardens in Sonoma

 CLOSED

I’ve never quite known what to make of Sonoma Valley’s Cornerstone gardens.

Part art installation, part wine tasting room hub, part garden and part restaurant, it’s an amazing Wine Country destination that’s finally finding its groove. T

his week, Chef Bruce Riezenman of Santa Rosa’s Park Avenue Catering opens Park 121 After-Hours Pizza and Empanada Kitchen at the gardens.

The walk-up eatery will be open from 4p.m. to 7p.m.(ish) Thursday through Sundays through October. And if you’re wondering how 7p.m. is actually “after hours”, remember we’re in Wine Country, where many wineries are dark by 4:30p.m. Reisenman runs Park 121 cafe, grill and market daily from 10a.m. to 5p.m. at the gardens.

23584 Arnold Drive, Hwy 121, Sonoma.

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Vignette Pizzeria Sebastopol http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/vignette-sebastopol/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/vignette-sebastopol/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:43:46 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=29036

Can a meal be life-changing? Every once in a while. And Vignette does it with aplomb

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There are only a handful of meals that I can describe as life-changing—so perfectly executed at exactly the right moment in time that they forever stand out in memory as best-in-class. Fatty tuna belly nigiri at Hana Japanese, chocolate pot de creme at Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Rustic, chilled pea soup with Dungeness crab at Chalkboard, beef bourguignon at Chloe’s, foie gras at Cyrus.

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

This week, I’ve added another: Fire-roasted heirloom carrots with eggplant and buffalo mozzarella ($10) at the recently-opened Vignette. Oh.my.god. A stack of perfectly yielding, caramelized baby carrots stacked atop bits of roasted eggplant and green onion with two spoonfuls of Ramini buffalo mozzarella (not easy to find), made even more decadent with olive oil and black pepper. Just one of a frequently changing line-up of daily roasted vegetables from Chef Mark Hopper (former executive chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group).

Not that the rest of the menu isn’t nearly as stunning. We can’t help but hope that the Kale Cocio e Pepe ($10) is as healthy as it sounds. A heaping pile of chopped kale, sweet Peppadew peppers, smoked mozzarella, toasted walnuts and Greek yogurt makes other salads wilt with shame.

The brief menu orbits around Hopper’s painstakingly-researched Neapolitan pizzas. Having traveled to some of the best pizzerias in the country, he honed both the dough and the wood-fired cooking method (very hot, very fast) that results in a chewy crust with crispy bubbles throughout.

What to order, however, depends on your familiarity—and perspective—on Neapolitan pizzas.
A quick public service announcement about this style of pizza. Neapolitan pizza isn’t like American pizza. They’re usually small enough for one person, minimally topped, slightly wet in the middle (you’re unlikely to be able to pick up a piece without everything sliding off) and authentically served uncut. The “char” can range from light brown to charcoal-like, with the ideal pizza ending up somewhere win the middle.

With that said, Hopper keeps things authentic with San Marzano tomato-topped Margherita (mozzarella, Grana Padino cheese, basil and olive oil, $16), to heartier “meatball parm ($19) with house made meatballs, Parmigiano Reggiano, mozzarella and garlic, the Manhattan ($18) with chopped clams and our favorite, the **Red Eye ($17)** with Calabrian chili pesto, eggs, buffalo mozzarella, charred mortadella and Grana Padano cheese. We left the Mushroom Alfredo ($18) with garlic cream, roasted mushrooms, stracciatella cheese, grilled tomatoes and herbs for next time.

Dessert is an authentically Italian affogato. Steaming espresso is poured over buffalo milk gelato.
On a warm summer night, the glass walls roll up for a cool breeze, and a small patio is perfect for afternoon lunching.

Life is short, so its worth finding those life-changing meals. Or at the very least, life-affirming. Vignette does that with aplomb.

Vignette, 6750 McKinley St., Sebastopol (at the Barlow). Open noon to 10p.m. daily.

Related Images:

[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Happy 100th, Mary! http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/happy-100th-mary/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/happy-100th-mary/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2013 17:54:00 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=28232

Free cake for Mary's Pizza Shack diners

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MARYSArea Mary’s Pizza Shacks will celebrate what would have been founder Mary Fazio’s 100th birthday Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Which, of course, means a free slice of birthday cake for diners throughout the day at all Mary’s locations.

The iconic pizzeria has been a Northbay staple since 1959, when Mary founded her first “shack” in Boyes Hot Springs, growing to 19 locations in Northern California. Fazio passed away in 1999, but her family continues to run the company.

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Art’s Place – Rohnert Park http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/arts-place-rohnert-park/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/arts-place-rohnert-park/#comments Thu, 21 Mar 2013 22:54:37 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=27344 Barbecue Chicken Pizza at Art's Place in Rohnert Park

Every day's a fair at Pasta King Art Ibleto's new restaurant

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza at Art's Place in Rohnert Park

The King of Comfort Food at Art’s Place in Rohnert Park.

It’s fair-time all year long at Pasta King Art Ibleto’s new Rohnert Park restaurant.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza at Art's Place in Rohnert Park

Barbecue Chicken Pizza at Art’s Place in Rohnert Park

Classic Caesar Salad at Art's Place in Rohnert Park

Classic Caesar Salad at Art’s Place in Rohnert Park

His signature Sonoma County fair favorites — baked polenta with cheese and marinara ($9), half and half spaghetti (pesto and marinara, Art’s most popular fair food), Parmesan truffle fries ($6) and Caesar salads ($7) are all on the menu every day at Art’s Place. The restaurant is a joint venture with friends and family.

The opening menu also includes sandwiches, burgers and paninis along with a full page of wood-fired pizzas ($7 to $20).

Wine and beer on tap plus (we hear) a killer puff pastry apple torte a la mode ($7) we missed on our first visit. Second time’s a charm, right?

 Art’s Place, 563 Rohnert Park Expressway, Rohnert Park, (707) 588-2787).

Pappardelle Pasta with Creamy Pesto at Art's Place in Rohnert Park.

Pappardelle Pasta with Creamy Pesto at Art’s Place in Rohnert Park.

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[See image gallery at www.sonomamag.com]

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Rosso Petaluma http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/rosso-petaluma-preview/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/rosso-petaluma-preview/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 21:10:10 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=23757 John Franchetti and Kevin Cronin of Rosso Pizzerias will go in different directions.

Santa Rosa's popular wood-fired pizzeria and wine bar opens an outpost in Petaluma featuring a dedicated "latteria" or cheese bar.

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John Franchetti and Kevin Cronin of Rosso Pizzerias will go in different directions.

The new outpost of Rosso Pizzeria and Wine Bar opens Monday, May 14, 2012 in Petaluma’s Theater District.

Think again if you’re expecting a carbon copy of the Santa Rosa restaurant. It’s more like an evolution, said co-owner Kevin Cronin.  The 25-item menu includes some familiar favorites (calamari fritti, housemade burrata, margherita pizza) but ventures into new territory with a dedicated latteria (a cheese bar) featuring Ramini buffalo mozzarella, braised leeks with burrata and stretched-to-order mozzarella. “In Petaluma, we’re reflecting the focus on cheese and dairy,” said Cronin.

Also added to the menu are dishes including tripe, Italian Surf and Turf (roasted pork belly with Drake’s Bay crispy oysters), a Clam Pie with Manila clams, a smoked brick chicken pizza and a piadini (flatbread) Po Boy with oysters, remoulade, romaine, shaved fennel and bacon vinaigrette.

Gluten-free pizzas are available. Because no one should have to miss out on this opening. 25+ wines by the glass, plus beer. No dessert, cause they don’t do that.

Rosso Pizzeria Petaluma, 151 Petaluma Blvd S., Petaluma

Related Images:

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Joey’s Original Pizza | Santa Rosa http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/joeys-original-pizza-santa-rosa/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/joeys-original-pizza-santa-rosa/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 20:02:46 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=18568

Santa Rosa pizza spot is a great value with amazing sandwiches

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The best thing about Joey’s Pizza isn’t the pizza. It’s everything else that comes out of the ovens

Joey’s Pizza was NoshMob #1— a democratic eating society. Wanna join?

Here’s what the Mobsters had to say…

Amy D:“The server gave my son who’s twelve a little extra attention…he was smiling. The kids loved the Cheese pizza. The Combo… It reminded me of a New York style pizza. Thin crust and greasy. Enough that my husband would comment on the grease and he’s not usually picky on this. Toppings were good, the usual put on the combo: sausage pepperoni salami and mushrooms.”- Mike “Mr. Meat” S.: I had the Italian Sub, good, not great. Italian Delight in Novato still holds the title of best sub.

– John L.: “First let me say that with such strong personalities at a table, the food would have too be out of this world. Unfortunately it wasn’t. But for the price point it seemed fair. I tried a slice of the heart attack . Not bad really. Reminded me of pizza you would eat at the beach as a kid . The Italian sub & roast beef and garlic were both ok. Again for the price not bad. Over all I would say I won’t be running back for more . But iv payed more for less before.”

– Anne-Marie: “I had- The Big Tone – by the slice. chicken bacon artichoke mushroom pesto. Was a really tasty huge slice of pizza. $4 Couldn’t finish it!- The Antipasti Salad – small $5.25 A great salad w/mozzarella pepperochini’s salame (pepperoni too, but asked them to leave it off – not a big fan).

– Ty: “Not so good in my book. Caesar salad was ack. Pizza was meh … Though those pretzels were good. And the iced tea was good. I might go back to try a whole pizza and see what that’s like.”

– The Pregnant Lady: “Cheesy garlic breadsticks: These were a-m-a-z-i-n-g!” “A-dog Pizza: definitely one I’d order again.” “Meatball Sandwich: A fantastic deal for only $5.50 for a small- a nice-sized lunch for most people (who aren’t 38 weeks pregnant or sharing with a hungry lunch partner.) The melted provolone managed to get into every nook and cranny without taking over. Warm cookie sundae: This thing is a monster! It was HUGE! A giant, warm (kind of doughy) cookie covered in a whole lot of ice cream, a whole lot of chocolate sauce, a whole lot of whipped cream and some chocolate chips that were rolling down the side of this mountain as it was delivered to the table. We thought we didn’t have room to do much damage. We were wrong.”

Recently opened in the revolving restaurant space above Gary’s at the Belvedere, there’s been little buzz other than the ugly vinyl signage strung outside.  In fact, I’ve kind of avoided the spot. The specter of restaurants recently past (Blue Label and Blue Label Burgers) still knocking about felt a little chilling.

But a well-tested BiteClubber raved about Joey’s. Repeatedly. Re-peat-ed-ly. She’s pregnant, so what could I say?

Inside, not much has changed. Most of the Goodwill furniture is still there, as are the creaky, squeaky floors and hostess-free entrance (you have to kind of wind your way to the bar to find someone). But there’s also a new energy and a warm, yeasty smell that greets you at the door — rather than the cigarette smoke that used to permeate the walls. It’s immediately more comfortable somehow.

Hot, homemade pretzels — not quite soft, but not quite hard, and bathed in garlic salt — arrive at the table within a couple minutes. The place is almost always understaffed, but friendly and affable, and surprisingly prompt (though not fast).

Don’t be intimidated by the menu, which stretches for several pages, featuring pizzas that range from ho-hum (pepperoni, cheese) to hmm, okay (Joey’s Garlic supreme with garlic sauce, pepperoni, sausage, tomatoes and green onions) to wow (see the board at the bar for personal creations that mix meats, pineapple, and all manner of other toppings).

Overall, the pizza is good. It’s cheapish (prices top out at $17.99, but smalls are around $14 and plenty big for several) and you can get any sort of mix/match pie you’d like. I also love that you can get massive slices for $3.50. Lunchtime score.

But the big winner? The sandwiches. Fresh, flat rolls that are piping hot and filled with meat, cheese and veggies. The Cheesy Garlic Roast Beef (garlic, Ranch, cheese, roast beef) has made appearances in my food daydreams for weeks. At $5.50 it’s a steal, because you’ll likely take home half. Monster Meatball, Y&T Chicken and Brie are also winners.

Salads are pretty meh, but cheesy garlic sticks, fries and mozzarella sticks that actually have melted cheese in the middle make it a very kid-friendly spot.

Leave room for dessert. A warm chocolate chip cookie sundae slathered with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream ($5.95) is worth a trip alone. Warm. Chocolate Chip. Sundae. On several trips, they were out of the “Mama Joey’s ‘Labor Inducing’ Cheesecakes”, but hope springs eternal. Especially for my pregnant pal.

Joey’s Original Pizza isn’t fancy or gourmet. But it’s the kind of neighborhood spot that’s satisfying, and feels like a value for a quick lunch or a family dinner.

Joey’s Original Pizza, 727 Mendocino Ave, Santa rosa, 583-7688. Also 2700 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa, 542-279. Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Cheesy Garlic Sandwich

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Oenotri | Napa http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/oenotri/ http://www.sonomamag.com/biteclub/oenotri/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2011 22:17:49 +0000 http://www.biteclubeats.com/?p=16693

Delicious praise well worth it at casual, authentic Italian eatery with real Sicilian-style pizzas

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Jeff Kan Lee/PD

There’s a reason Napa newcomer Oenotri has been showered with critical praise. It’s just that good.  Despite humble beginnings (Cheesecake Factory), Curtis Di Fede and Tyler Rodde (co-exec chefs) have serious chops (Oliveto, Fat Duck) and are among the top salumists in the Bay Area (no small feat). The chefs cast a light on under-represented Italian regions including Siciliy, Campania and Puglia. The pizzas are unparalleled, using Italian 00 flour and a wood-fueled Acino oven from Naples. Homemade pastas are outstanding. Leave room for weep-worthy seasonal panna cotta.

1425 First St., Napa, 252-1022.

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