A Visit to Della Fattoria in Petaluma

A flaky snail and a banana-bran muffin from Della Fattoria.

I owe my latest carb binge to Chef Adam Mali.

When I was dining recently at his restaurant, Brasserie S&P in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco, I’d occasionally come up for air from devouring his dishes only to find myself drawn completely and helplessly to the bread.

Smoky, with a hefty dark crust and a chewy interior full of delightful air holes and developed fermented flavor, I couldn’t stop eating slice after slice.

Of course, I had to ask him where it came from.

When he told me it was baked in wood-fired ovens at Della Fattoria in Petaluma, I knew I had to stop in the next time I was in the vicinity.

So, I did earlier this week.

A hearty loaf fragrant with Meyer lemon and rosemary.

Bon Appetit magazine has called it one of the Top 10 bread bakeries in America. One taste and you’ll agree.

All the flours used are organic. Instead of yeast, the bakery uses a natural starter that is now years old. Replenished with water and flour two or three times a day, the starter is a big reason why these breads have so much flavor.

Another reason is that they are baked in brick ovens at the Weber family’s Petaluma ranch, where they also host farm dinners and guests at their studio apartment on the premises. The ovens are heated with wood fires that are started the day before, then allowed to burn for 12 hours, before being swept clean and sealed to keep in the heat. The hand-shaped loaves then go inside, directly on the hearth.

As I stood at the counter taking it all in, it was hard not to buy one of everything.

I narrowed down my purchases to a baguette and a fragrant Meyer lemon-rosemary round, along with a banana bran muffin, a raisin-studded snail, a flourless chocolate cookie and a peanut butter cookie sandwich.

A peanut butter sandwich cookie and a chewy, fudgy flourless chocolate cookie.

A baguette.

When I got home, I started nibbling. And nibbling. And nibbling.

The muffin was moist with a crunchy streusel topping, the snail nearly as flaky as a croissant, and the cookies just divine.

But it was the bread that truly was the most memorable. The texture of each was what you dream about in the perfect loaf of bread.

With a drizzle of olive oil, a smear of soft butter or a slice of artisan cheese, it just doesn’t get better than that.

No wonder so many top Bay Area restaurants serve it, including Bar Agricole in San Francisco, RN74 in San Francisco, and Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa. It’s also sold at grocery stores such as Bi-Rite in San Francisco and select Whole Foods. You’ll also find a Della Fattoria stand at the Saturday farmers market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the Thursday Marin farmers market at the Marin Civic Center.

If you’re ever near Petaluma, do stop into the inviting cafe-bakery there. You won’t be able to go home empty-handed. Guaranteed.

More Bakeries Worth Checking Out: Cheese Board in Berkeley

And: Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg

And: Model Bakery in St. Helena

And: Love at First Bite in Berkeley

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Date: Friday, 3. August 2012 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Bakeries, Chefs, General, Great Finds, Travel Adventures

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  1. 1

    I probably wouldn’t be able to leave the bakery if I ever visited it! The boule looks gorgeous!

  2. 2

    Fabulous breads and pastries!



  3. 3

    Being a sweet tooth, I’m more tempted by the cookies. ;)

  4. 4

    All these pastries and breads look wonderful. I really wish I’m living closer so I can try them out. Drooling over here….

  5. 5

    I don’t believe it. You mean you drove all the way home from Napa without eating any of it along the way? ;-) That rosemary Meyer lemon bread sounds amazing. I wonder if they sell that at the San Francisco stand? Whenever I drop by the stand, I typically go for the sweets. But now I’m going to keep an eye out for that!

  6. 6

    I actually have plans to be in the area soon, now I must go visit. The bread looks fantastic, but the little peanut butter cookie has caught my eye…

  7. 7

    Wow the bread at this place looks absolutely amazing…I’m in love with rustic bread, wish I lived closer!

  8. 8

    Mmm sometimes only carbs will do!! :D You can practically taste the bread from the photos!

  9. 9

    The snail and the lemon loaf look amazing, just thinking about how it smells when you break the loaf open gives me the chill (the good kind). Sadly this place is way out of my reach :-(

  10. 10

    I am a carb freak and have to really pull up all of my self-restraint and control not to leave a bakery with one of everything. I love that you “narrowed down” your choice to so many! It all looks fabulous! And what a pleasure to find perfect bread!

  11. 11

    Those loaves look amazing! I need to have my next carb-loading session there!!

  12. 12

    Dear Carolyn,

    I agree nothing like fresh bread and that baguette looks beautiful. I would be happy with some good EVOO to go with it too although some French butter would be awesome too! :)

  13. 13

    His bread sounds wonderful. I plan to attend IACP this year so hopefully I will have a chance to stop in while I’m there. SF always has everything delicious and unique.

  14. 14

    Beautiful looking bread. If I lived close, I’d be almost living there. Carbs are good, right? ;-)

  15. 15

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