5 Best Pizza Places in Sonoma County
Being a self-confessed, wood-fired pizza lover—and having recently been inspired by Lisa Perrotti-Brown’s “Five Best Pizza Places in Napa”—I felt compelled to represent Sonoma County. Now, this list isn’t necessarily comprised of pizza parlors, but rather it is a list of pizzerias, wineries, bistros and restaurants that serve some of the best pizza in all of Sonoma County. From top to bottom, and only because my bias is for the places closest to my home, here is my top-five list of the best places to eat fantastic wood-fired pizza in Sonoma County—complete with a pizza and wine pairing recommendation for each!
1. Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar | 53 Montgomery Drive | Santa Rosa
In Santa Rosa, none other than Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar is my go-to pizza place—and the only true pizzeria on this list (though they do have a few non-pizza items on the menu). Not only do they have a tasty array of pizzas that feature seasonal ingredients, but because they are also a wine bar, their wine list is top-notch with excellent international and domestic choices. What’s more is that they gave a nice by-the-glass list and also offer various sizes—carafes, bottles and even flights—so it’s a great place to sip, savor and sample the night away! In my book, a pizzeria wouldn’t make the top five list if they didn’t use a brick, wood-burning oven. At Rosso, their brick oven fills the back wall of the restaurant, where chefs are tossing pies and shuffling pizzas in and out of the oven as quickly as they can.
Pizza Recommendation: Their Salumi pizza is a classic staple on the menu and always comes prepared the same way: a thin, crispy crust is topped with lots of extra virgin olive oil and freshly crushed tomatoes, then topped with a modest amount of mozzarella cheese and crispy pieces of salumi. This is Salumi pizza at its best.
Wine Pairing: Going local, Unti’s 2013 Dry Creek Valley Barbera is a delightful wine with warm mulling spices and red fruit aromas, followed by a light-bodied palate, medium acidity, lots of red fruit and medium tannin on the finish. It’s an excellent choice to pair alongside the Salumi pizza and it’s nice to have a local wine made from an Italian grape variety on the list.
2. VJB Cellars | 60 Shaw Avenue | Kenwood
I know it may seem strange to include a winery in a pizza-place article, but VJB Cellars is without a doubt one of the finest purveyors of pizza in Sonoma County. This Italian villa, located just off Highway 12 in Kenwood, provides the setting for a perfect weekend afternoon of pizza and wine. Outside on their piazza, dozens of chairs/tables offer visitors an afternoon outdoors while enjoying a tasting, glass or bottle wine from their collection of incredible Italian varietals (okay, they make a few non-Italian varietals, too, but the Italian wines are my favorite). On the edges of the piazza, chefs are cooking up wood-fired pizza in the beautiful brick oven and friendly staff are serving delicious gelato from their gelato shop. Inside, they’ve got a full-on Italian deli with salumi, cheeses, Illy espresso and even homemade food products from the matriarch of the family. The whole operation is a family affair and you can feel that in the air at VJB—this place is about as warm-hearted and welcoming as it gets.
Pizza Recommendation: As for the pizzas, the Quattro Formaggi is a favorite of mine. This simple, oh-so delicious and perfectly cooked pizza hits the spot every time I visit (which is often, because it’s 15 minutes from my house!). The crust is always crispy and the four-cheese combination is always melted to perfection. Warm and hearty, it goes well with a light-bodied red wine, like their Dolcetto.
Wine Pairing: Pair the Quattro Formaggi with a glass (or bottle—why not?) of their Dolcetto and you might find yourself thinking you’re in Italy, people-watching on the piazza as you enjoy your pizza and wine. The Dolcetto is a light-bodied, red-fruited and spice-filled beauty that I just can’t get enough of when I visit VJB.
3. Aventine | 14301 Arnold Drive | Glen Ellen
Aventine has been a wonderful addition to the culinary scene in Glen Ellen since it first opened a couple years back—and in fact, this tiny town is home to some of my favorite restaurants in the whole county (don’t miss a visit to The Fig Cafe or Yeti). This classy restaurant has a beautiful interior and an inviting outdoor patio for when dining al fresco is desired. Having graduated from the CIA in New York and worked at renowned restaurants around the world, Chef Adolfo Veronese’s talent shines in his well-crafted menu, which of course includes wood-fired pizzas. Each pizza boasts a unique combination of tasty ingredients.
Pizza Recommendation: I am a sucker for the Carciofo pizza, which is decadent but delicate and full of grilled artichoke, roasted tomato, burrata and micro basil. I love the way the burrata melts in your melt with each tasty bite.
Wine Pairing: Now, the wine pairing here is a bit trickier than anywhere else, because their wine list is extensive. By the glass is easier simply because there aren’t as many options, but if you’re going for a bottle, there’s a lot from which to choose. The list is pretty much Sonoma, Napa and Italy—with a handful of Champagnes and some Rosé from Provence. From the Italian bottle list, I enjoy the refreshing Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi from Marchetti and Castello di Ama’s Haiku—a red Tuscan blend. The former is suited more to the artichokes and burrata; while I lean towards the Salsicce pizza (Italian fennel sausage, mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh oregano) when ordering the Tuscan red.
4. Campo Fina |330 Healdsburg Avenue | Healdsburg
There’s a ridiculous amount of delicious dining in Healdsburg, but when it’s an Italian eatery you’re looking for because you’re craving a great wood-fired pizza, Campo Fina is the place to go. Conveniently located right around the corner from the happening Healdsburg plaza, Campo Fina offers a full, tasty Italian menu that features classic pizzas like the margherita as well as unique creations for the adventurous pizza-lover.
Pizza Recommendation: The Marguez is dotted with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, housemade lamb sausage, red onion, pecorino and mint. I guess that makes me an adventurous pizza lover. What gets me with this one is the housemade lamb sausage–you’ve got to try it! It’s delicious.
Wine Pairing: Campo Fina has a great wine list and if you’re visiting with friends, or simply feel compelled to order a bottle, I recommend pairing the Marquez with the Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco; this is a robust wine that undoubtedly holds up next to the lamb sausage, and pairs quite well with the mint.
5. Wild Goat Bistro | 6 Petaluma Blvd North, #A5 | Petaluma
I’m pretty sure Petaluma has more pizza places per capita than any other city in Sonoma County. This makes it hard to choose just one to make this list, but I’m going to have to go with Wild Goat Bistro. It’s located right downtown, in the Great Petaluma Mill Shopping Center, around the corner from some of my other Petaluma favorites (like Acre Coffee and Sauced BBQ). Wild Goat is very quaint and inviting, like all of the restaurants in downtown Petaluma. The kitchen has an open design, which contributes to the bustling atmosphere and all around good vibes of this small bistro. They have a pretty full menu, and while it all looks good, I’m always drawn to their delicious Napoletana-style pizza.
Pizza Recommendation: I just can’t get enough of the Four Cheese Fig & Pig pizza: house-made fig spread, prosciutto, fontina, grana padano, goat and blue cheese, and arugula. Something about the combination of all these cheeses with the spicy arugula hits the spot—especially with a crisp white wine.
Wine Pairing: Whenever I visit the Wild Goat Bistro, I go for the bottle list, because their glass list doesn’t offer a lot of choices. While they only have local producers on this list (sorry Italian wine purists), you can still get your fix for an Italian varietal if you just can’t get on board with ordering a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc at an Italian bistro. And generally, that’s how I feel when I am at an Italian bistro. So, I recommend the Rumpus Cellars Vermentino from the Sonoma Coast to pair with the Four Cheese Fig & Pig. If you’ve got some extra cash on hand, splurge and order a red-sauce based pizza with a bottle of Gaia Gaja’s Tuscany project, Ca’Marcanda—it’s one of the few Italian reds on the bottle list, and it’s certainly worth ordering.
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