There are only three things needed to make a perfect pizza — crust, sauce and cheese. Sure, pepperoni, anchovies or pineapple may be required on your pizza, but the pure expression of a great pie needs no gilding.
How that crust and sauce come together, however, differs from region to region. From gut-busting Chicago deep dish to the simplest Neapolitan, we’ve found some of the best examples throughout Sonoma County. Mangia!
The original. Neapolitan pizzas hail from Naples, Italy. Usually they’re personal-sized with a mottled crust (dark spots are a signature) and only topped with sauce, cheese, basil and olive oil. Pop it in a ridiculously hot oven for a minute or two and you’re done. Molto bene.
You’ll rarely find an authentic version in Sonoma County, but most of the local wood fired pizzas pay homage to this “true” pizza crust, then add all sorts of creative toppings that would horrify a purist. We’ll call them Neapolitan-inspired…
Campo Fina, Healdsburg
Wood-oven pizzas are all the rage in Wine Country, and there are as many styles as there are Mugnaini ovens. But too often crusts get blistered and burnt, and carbon is only delicious on campfire marshmallows. At Campo Fina, simple mushroom, sausage or Margheritas get the kiss of the oven without being smothered. 330 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, 707-395-4640.
Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, Geyserville
Fresh slices of house-cured lardo on top of a wood-fired pizza. Toss on a few tomatoes and you’ll never look at another piece of mushroom and pepperoni quite the same way again. And it’s just one of the devilish pizzas at Dino Bugica’s rustic pizzeria, Diavola. 21021 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, 707-814-0111.
Jackson's Bar and Oven, Santa Rosa
Pizzas range from simple Margherita to prosciutto with mascarpone, pear and arugula; mixed mushroom with truffle oil; daily specials and even a gluten-free version. House favorite is the House Made Sausage (tomato sauce, provolone, olives, goat horn peppers and oregano). Feeling adventurous? Go for the Undecided and let the chef surprise you. 135 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, 707-545-6900.
Rosso, Santa Rosa
Fresh, organic, locally-sourced and seasonal. The Funghi di Limone with oven roasted mixed mushrooms, taleggio and fontina cheese, shaved artichokes, finished with lemon oil and fresh thyme, is a favorite (pictured). Creekside Center, 53 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa, 707-544-3221.
Franchettis’, Santa Rosa
Select your own pizza combo or try a German-style thin crust Flammkuchen ("cake made in fire") with crème fraîche, house made burrata, thinly sliced onions, bacon lardons, and a green onion finish. 1229 N. Dutton, Santa Rosa, 707-526-1229.
Pizza Zimi, Petaluma
Just opened at The Block in Petaluma by the owner of the Dino’s Greek food truck, the pizzas here are clearly Neapolitan-style, but we love the refined toppings that include garlic confit, crème fraîche, pickled shiitakes and even figs. 20 Grey St., Petaluma, 707-559-5338, eatzimi.com.
Wild Goat Bistro, Petaluma
Thin and crispy pizzas lead the charge at this hidden gem in Petaluma. The stone and wood interior of the historic Great Petaluma Mill lends an Italian feel to the restaurant and fresh local ingredients elevate the Neapolitan-style pies, there's even an "In Season" pizza. Another favorite, the Fig and Pig pizza, is topped with housemade fig spread, prosciutto, fontina, Grana Padano, goat and blue cheese, and finished with baby arugula. 6 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, 707-658-1156.
Glen Ellen Star, Glen Ellen
Chef Weiswasser’s 650-degree custom-built wood oven perfumes the entire block with its smoke. Pizzas steal the show at this Wine Country classic, with a simple Margherita or White Pizza with guanciale and arugula easily feeding two. Try the tomato cream pie with espelette chili. 13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 707-343-1384.
Also known as “grandma style” these pizzas are thicker and heartier and always square. You’ll get the best of all worlds with crispy, caramelized edges and lots of cheese and toppings. Detroit-style are based off of this style.
Pizza Leah, Windsor
Leah Scurto puts every bit of her soul into making dough, sauce and cheese as perfect as possible. Limited to just a handful each day, her pizzas are as good as they get. We love The Besto with red sauce, mozzarella and nut-free pesto. 9240 Old Redwood Hwy., Suite 116, Windsor, 707-620-0551.
Steel workers may or may not have inspired these pizzas when they used square automotive parts pans to cook up this light, unusually-shaped pizza. But in the past few years, this tasty, crisp crust has become popular.
Acre Pizza, Sebastopol
A deep, crispy crust and melty cheese for the win. We especially love the caramelized edges and bright, fresh tomato sauce. 6760 McKinley St., Suite 150, Sebastopol. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, 707-827-3455.
A super thin crust often cut into squares.
Red Grape Pizza, Sonoma
Cracker-thin and amazingly tasty. 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.
Tony's of North Beach, Rohnert Park
Hit the jackpot with a pizza from the pie master himself, Tony Gemignani — a 13-time World Pizza Champion. Gemignani’s pizzas — from a simple Margherita to progressive thin-crusted Roman pizzas (savory to sweet slices) — have just the right amount of crisp and gentle char to make you swear off Friday night pizza delivery forever. Graton Casino, 630 Park Ct, Rohnert Park, 707-588-7741.
A signature style of the Windy City that’s deep, deep, deep. A high-rise buttery crust serves as a dam for all the dairy and tomato sauce stuffed inside. This is a commitment, ya know?
Psychic Pie, Santa Rosa
This one defies explanation, but it’s square and made in the Roman style. What makes these pies extra special is the sourdough crust and toppings ranging from simple tomato to artichoke and fontina. The pizzas are finished at home for a perfectly hot and crispy crust. Only 30 are made per week right now, so you’ll have to get your order in early.
Old Chicago, Petaluma
This 40+ year-old Petaluma staple serves up seriously deep-dish pizza that even a Chicago native can appreciate. You'll find an array of pies here, from double crust to thin crust, and toppings galore. 41 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, 707-763-3897.
Mad Sicilian, Petaluma
New to Petaluma, this family-owned business has just about every type of pizza on this list, but we love their extra-cheesy, tomato sauce on top deep dish. 203 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, 707-766-8600.
New York Style
Thin crust with giant slices that require folding in half if you’re going to do it right. Toppings tend to be minimalist.
Chicago’s Pizza With A Twist, Santa Rosa
The twist is Indian-inspired pizzas like butter chicken, paneer, tandoori chicken or even lamb kabob with pineapples! 2780 Stony Point Road Suite M, Santa Rosa, 707-606-1000.
NY Pie, Santa Rosa
The go-to spot for desperate pizza fixes until 3 a.m. Try the “Godfather” with sausage, artichoke hearts, and garlic, or the lighter “Neapolitan” with fresh garden tomatoes and basil. NY Pie pizzas require the Manhattan-style fold to cram a slice into your face, and they’re uniquely Italian-American. 65 Brookwood Ave, Santa Rosa, 707 526-9743.
Urban Pizza, Santa Rosa
Family-owned pizzeria serves up hand-tossed pies with high-quality ingredients. Try the Thai One On with peanut sauce, chicken and fresh cilantro. 500 Mission Blvd, Santa Rosa, 707-978-4668.
Giant slices from giant pies and everything a good New York style pizza should be. The Santa Rosa location is currently closed, but Sebastopol location is still hopping. 560 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, 823-7492.
Papa's Pizza Cafe, Cloverdale
Looking for pizza and some financial advice? At Papa's Pizza in Cloverdale, you can get both. Owner Mike Nixon, a longtime financial planner and pie-spinner, operates a pizza parlor and financial services business under the same roof. Don’t worry, you won’t get a tax form with your pie, though. The Bear (pepperoni, pineapple, jalapenos, garlic and sausage) is a locals' favorite. 105 North Cloverdale Boulevard, Cloverdale, 707-894-4453.
By: Heather Irwin