Let’s just get this out of the way up front: I am not a vegan. I’ve often thought that if some medical condition suddenly rendered me lactose intolerant, cheese is what I would miss the most. I mean, how could I ever enjoy pizza again without the creamy goodness of dairy mozzarella?
The vegan pizzas of my imagination were always lackluster affairs, smeared with tomato sauce and halfheartedly dotted with sad, naked mushrooms longing for the comfort of a mozzarella blanket. Then I began seeing some truly intriguing vegan options on restaurant menus all over Sonoma County, and my skepticism turned to curiosity. Could these plant-based pizzas actually satisfy my cravings?
Hell yes, as it turns out. Known for their creativity and devotion to fresh, local ingredients, Sonoma County chefs are tossing and topping specialty vegan pies that everyone can love. The secret, pizzaiolos say, is in choosing ingredients with intention and finding the right balance of tastes and textures.
“My philosophy with all of the food that I make is that it’s packed with flavor and that there’s consideration for sweet, fat and acid,” says Greta Canton, owner of Magdelena’s Savories & Sweets in Petaluma. “When you experience it, you won’t miss anything.”
Rather than opting for widely available vegan cheeses and meats, Canton seeks out small producers that offer more interesting options. “I like vegan cheese, but it can have a strong flavor that can be overpowering,” she says. To ensure balance, she chooses milder-tasting cheeses that won’t steal the show.
Rob Larman, chef-owner at il Fuoco in Sonoma, likes to complement the neutral profile of local Miyoko’s mozzarella with bold toppings. “I try to punch up the flavors with roasted vegetables,” he says, “like Romanesco with Calabrian chili.”
While approaches may vary, the results are surprisingly—at least to this omnivore—delightful. Read on to learn about five of our favorite vegan pizza destinations across the county.
Il Fuoco, Sonoma
Chef-owner Rob Larman converted his Cochon Volant barbecue restaurant to a wood-fired pizza joint in 2021. Along with traditional Italian-style pies, il Fuoco features a rotating vegan special that varies by season. The current offering is a powerhouse combination of Miyoko’s mozzarella, caramelized onions, broccolini, roasted Romanesco and Calabrian chili—all perched on a bubbly Neapolitan crust. This fall, look for a vegan pumpkin pizza with roasted onion and fennel.
18350 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma 95476, 707-522-7778, ilfuocopizza.com
Magdelena’s Savories & Sweets, Petaluma
Opened earlier this year on Petaluma’s east side, this vegan and vegetarian café is wowing patrons with its satisfying sheet pan pizzas. Owner Greta Canton, a vegetarian for more than 30 years, knows just how to strike the right balance of flavors and textures for mind-blowing results. We love the Buffalo Cauliflower Blue for its chunky veggies and creamy ranch and blue cheese sauce. The Black Sheep Greek is a meaty-tasting medley of vegan lamb, housemade feta, roasted red pepper and calamata olives.
5306 Old Redwood Highway, Petaluma, 707-665-0644, magdelenas.com
Rosso, Santa Rosa
Rosso has been cooking up some of Sonoma County’s best Neapolitan-style pizzas since 2007, so it’s no surprise that the pizzeria makes an exceptional plant-based pie. The Vegan Veggie starts with a base of Rosso’s chewy, wood-fired crust, housemade tomato sauce and shaved garlic, then takes the experience to the next level with vegan mozzarella, kale-pistachio pistou, roasted Roma tomatoes, fried fingerling potatoes and spring onions.
53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-544-3221, rossopizzeria.com
Sonoma Pizza Company, Forestville
Newly opened in downtown Forestville, Sonoma Pizza Company has already gained a following for its blistered-crust, Neapolitan pizzas. The restaurant offers vegan options for all of its signature pizzas, featuring Miyoko’s mozzarella, Happy Little Plants pepperoni and Beyond Meat sausage. Try the bright and savory Broccolini & Lemon pizza studded with wood-fired broccolini, charred Meyer lemon confit, spring onion, slow cooked garlic confit and Espelette pepper.
6615 Front St., Forestville, 707-820-1031, sonomapizzaco.com
Wild Goat Bistro, Petaluma
Wild Goat founder Nancy De Lorenzo recently sold the popular downtown café to Risibisi longtime general manager Jacob Gamba, but thankfully, the concept and menu will remain the same. That’s great news for fans of The Pearl, the menu’s staple vegan pie. A longtime vegan, De Lorenzo lovingly developed this thin-crust, wood-fired pizza to suit her own discerning tastes, combining tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, fennel pollen, mushrooms, caramelized red pearl onions, pepperoncini and basil. The key to its success is fennel pollen, which makes the vegan sausage taste like the real deal.
6 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-658-1156, wildgoatbistro.com