A Dreamy Meal of Pizza and Soft-Serve

Pizzeria Picco's Margherita.

We came for the pizza. We stayed for the soft-serve.

After all, when no less an authority on Italian cuisine than Mario Batali declares in a national food magazine that the Margherita pie at Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur is the best in the country, well, one must high-tail it over there to try it pronto.

My hubby and I finally did (hey, it is a hike from the South Bay).

A cyclist, my hubby got a kick out of how so many of the pies are named after bikes, including the “Specialized” (Hobbs’ pepperoni, house-made sausage, tomato, mozzerella, and basil), and the “Seven” (oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, parmesan, pecorino, and oregano). Since his nickname is Meat Boy, he opted for the “Cannondale” (house-made sausage, roasted peppers, spring onion, mozzarella, and basil; $13.50). I, of course, went for the Margherita (tomato, basil, house-made mozzarella, parmesan, and De Padova extra virgin olive oil; $10.95).

Vanilla soft-serve with olive oil and sea salt. Unbelievably good!

Since the pizzeria itself is teeny-tiny and it was a beautiful, warm evening in Marin County, we sat outside at a wrought-iron table. The Pizzeria is adjacent to the larger Picco Restaurant, which has a more expansive menu. Both were started by long-time Bay Area Chef Bruce Hill.

The pizzas arrived and we dug in. Bits of nicely seasoned sausage really gave a lift to the Cannondale pie. The crust was thin, and quite charred, even blackened in some spots. It was good chewing.

The Cannondale pie.

The Margherita suffered just a bit from a less-than-crisp center. The mozzarella had melted completely into the sweet tomato sauce, so that the flavor of the toppings was almost reminiscent of a lovely creamy tomato bisque. It was tasty, indeed. But was it the best Margherita I’ve ever had? I’m not sure since I don’t always order Margheritas. It was definitely a nicely executed pizza. But I think I would still give the edge in the pizza wars to Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, especially for its squash blossom-tomato-burrata pizza, which is the stuff carbo-loading dreams are made of.

Lastly, the hubster and I shared a cup of Straus Dairy vanilla soft-serve drizzled with Da Vero extra virgin olive oil and sea salt ($5.95). That might sound like an odd combination, but Pizzeria Picco has become famous for this ice cream concoction. And justly so. The soft-serve is cold, creamy, and just a bit sweet. The buttery olive oil gives it all a more unctuous quality, upping the richness factor of the ice cream, and creating a more complex flavor. The sea salt is the added little touch that amplifies the sweet-savory playfulness.

Note to Chef Howard Bulka, who plans to serve Straus soft-serve in his new Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria to open in Palo Alto this summer: Please, oh, please, can you do the olive oil-thang, too?

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Date: Friday, 27. March 2009 5:07
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Cheese, Chefs, General, Great Finds, Pizza, Restaurants

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24 comments

  1. 1

    These pizzas look really good! Nice crust…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. 2

    Now, that’s a perfect meal! I’m drooling a little.

  3. 3

    Mmmmm love the idea of a tomato bisque on a pizza (with a crispier crust though!). I will be in LA in a couple weeks. Will have to see how far I am staying from Pizzeria Mozza. Thanks!

  4. 4

    ooo, that pizza looks good! I’m getting hungry :)

  5. 5

    I remember hearing about this place, it’s a trek for me too, but it looks like it was worth it!

  6. 6

    I noticed the picture of the ice cream and thought “that looks like olive oil…nah” but kept reading and, hey! It IS olive oil. I would try that for sure, especially with the sea salt!

    I don’t even usually bother trying margherita pizzas – nothing will be as good as the one I had in Naples. The only exception was the first time I went to New York, my friend took me to an Italian place that had just opened the night before and the family who owned it were pretty much fresh off the boat. It was the closest thing I have tasted to real Naples margherita pizza. I wish I could remember the name of the place. It’s probably either very popular or long since closed by now.

  7. 7

    Sounds like you terminated that “nicely executed pizza.” Could it be that you had soft feelings for more than the soft-serve?

  8. 8

    In my book, ice cream + olive oil = health food.

  9. 9

    We’ll have to try this ice cream with olive oil and salt. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a sweet with olive oil and salt. First time it was chocolate…So interesting.

  10. 10

    I’ve been meaning to try it for yrs, just never got to it. Hopefully this Summer. Great post! I would like the soft serve w/ olive oil at Chef Bulka’s new place when it opens too!

  11. 11

    I am always on the look out for authentic Italian pizzas in the Bay Area, and upon hearing that you give this place the edge to Pizzeria Mozza means that I MUST try this place soon! And while I’ve had sea salt on ice cream (not soft serve though), olive oil on ice cream is completely unheard of to me. Thanks for putting this place on my Bay Area radar.

  12. 12

    ice cream with olive oil?? nice!!
    the meat pizza looks divine.

  13. 13

    Skinny Girl: I LIKE the way you think! Health food, huh? Man, I need some of that soft-serve with olive oil every day then — better than a daily vitamin. ;)

    Anna: You think your fave authentic pizza place is still there by any chance? I’m actually going to NY this summer, and would make a beeline there if it was still in operation.

    Passionate Eater: You might have misunderstood me. I actually picked the Pizzeria Mozza pie as my fave. Pizzeria Picco is definitely worth trying, though. It’s a cute little place, where you’ll eat happily.

    CG the Foodie: If you make it to Pizzeria Mozza, do have the butterscotch budino for dessert. It’s the bomb!

  14. 14

    I ate at Picco Pizza last week. I LOVE living in Marin…

    –Marc

  15. 15

    wow! with food like that, I’ll hitchhike all the way over.

  16. 16

    Woooah, pizza and soft serve! That is a combination to die for! I’ve poured olive oil on my ice cream and yogurt before, so I definitely could go for that soft serve at Picco. And it sure looked pretty!

  17. 17

    When I saw the title of your post, I knew it was going to be ever-so-much more than just “pizza and soft serve”! I wasn’t disappointed – the pies look heavenly but I’m captivated by olive oil and salt on ice cream. I honestly can’t even imagine the flavor but oh, I want to have a taste!

  18. 18

    The ice cream combo is divine! When I’m too lazy to go out and eat, I’ll get a pint of Haagen Das vanilla and pour a little bit of a buttery extra virgin olive oil (I like TJ’s Sicilian Selezione) on it. Put it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes the oil becomes syrupy thick and top with a sprinkle of sea or kosher salt. MMMM!

  19. 19

    This recipe looks fantastic. I like your blog very much and i came here a lot to see the news.
    Cheers,
    amélia

  20. 20

    Great post, that ice cream sounds crazy…but possibly good..

    NAOmni

  21. 21

    Alli: Thanks for the tip on putting the ice cream back in the freezer for a bit to get the olive oil more syrupy. I am definitely going to have to try that. Sounds divine.

  22. 22

    I’m on the next ferry – my husband a fellow cyclist will just have to catch up. I haven’t made it over to Marin enough to check out the food scene – and you just gave me ample incentive to do so.
    Thanks so much for the tips.

  23. 23

    Words I thought I’d never say: Hold the fudge sauce on the soft-serve. I’m going with the olive oil.
    And I can see Marin County from here!

  24. 24

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