Category Archives: Pizza

Dining at Healdsburg’s New Molti Amici

A glorious hen of the woods pizza at Molti Amici.
A glorious hen of the woods pizza at Molti Amici.

The name of Healdsburg’s newest downtown restaurant loosely translates from Italian to “many friends.”

It’s emblematic of the convivial vibe to be found at Molti Amici, which took the place of locals’ favorite, Campo Fina, in late June.

It’s the brainchild of three alums of Michelin three-starred SingleThread Farms restaurant, just a block and a half away. Owner and sommelier Jonny Barr is that venerated restaurant’s former general manager. Husband-and-wife Chef Sean McGaughey and Melissa McGaughey, are SingleThread’s former chef de cuisine and hotel baker, respectively. The couple also own Healdsburg’s Quail & Condor bakery and Troubador cafe. At Molti Amici, Seth is the executive chef and Melissa is the pastry chef. They are assisted by Chef de Cuisine Matthew Cargo, former executive sous chef of Gjusta in Los Angeles, who honed his pasta and pizza skills through extensive travels throughout Italy.

The bar in the main dining room.
The bar in the main dining room.
The dining room.
The dining room.
Light streaming in on an early Saturday night.
Light streaming in on an early Saturday night.

Don’t expect fancy, white tablecloth, tweezer-food here, though. Instead, it’s all about handmade pizzas and pastas, made with a confident, deft hand that befits their impressive backgrounds. When I visited a couple weeks ago, as a guest of the restaurant, I enjoyed some of the best pastas and pizzas I’ve had in a while. And if you know my carb addiction, you know that’s saying something.

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Diving Into Del Popolo’s Frozen Pizzas

Potato, rosemary, and mozzarella pizza baked from frozen -- from Del Popolo.
Potato, rosemary, and mozzarella pizza baked from frozen — from Del Popolo.

You know you’ve made it when you not only graduate from a insanely popular food truck to a wildly successful brick-and-mortar pizzeria but finally to primo frozen pizzas stocked at discerning local grocery stores.

That’s the story of San Francisco’s Del Popolo, started by owner Jon Darsky who started hauling a 5,000-pound pizza oven around in a deconstructed shipping container in 2012 before opening his Del Popolo pizzeria in 2015.

The frozen pizzas.
The frozen pizzas.

During the pandemic, it started offering frozen pizzas, which can now be found at the restaurant, as well as in the freezer cases at Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery, Berkeley Bowl, Piazza’s Fine Foods, Draeger’s, Epicurean Trader, and Whole Foods.

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Dining Outside at Bookie’s Pizza

The unique 'nduja, pineapple and anchovy Detroit-style pizza at Bookie's.
The unique ‘nduja, pineapple and anchovy Detroit-style pizza at Bookie’s.

When a fine-dining chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked at Michelin three-starred Manresa pivots to making pizza, you know those pies are going to be damn fine.

And at Bookie’s Pizza in Santa Cruz, they absolutely slay.

Tucked inside Sante Adairius Rustic Ales tasting room at 1315 Water St. in Santa Cruz, Chef Todd Parker has set up shop, turning out Detroit-style pizzas with California farm-to-table panache.

Parker was the chef at Manresa Bread’s Campbell location when it first opened, which is where I first met him. The plan was for him to become the head chef at sister business, Mentone, when it was to open in Aptos.

Chef Todd Parker.
Chef Todd Parker.

But the pandemic had different ideas, delaying the debut of the pizza-centric Mentone, and leaving Parker to contemplate what the near future held.

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My Top 10 Eats of 2022

Whether enjoyed outside, inside or as takeout, restaurant food has never felt more special.

I am so grateful to restaurants for weathering all that they have in the past few years, and managing to come through it all to keep nourishing us in body, spirit, and soul.

Here’s to them, and to all that they provide, including these most memorable eats, in no particular order, that made my Top 10 for the year:

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Dining Outside at Cotogna

The Tuscan mixed grill at Cotogna in San Francisco.
The Tuscan mixed grill at Cotogna in San Francisco.

With festive pine cones adorning simple plywood tables, string lights festooning sidewalk trees, and blankets as soft as cashmere at the ready, Cotogna’s parklet has got to be one of the nicest around.

That’s what I found when my husband, two friends, and I dined outside last weekend when it hovered around 48 degrees. The popular Jackson Square Italian restaurant has tables outside right on the sidewalk, as well as a sizeable parklet. The latter is where you want to sit if possible because it has a canopy overhead, so if it rains, you’ll probably be fine unless the wind kicks up mightily.

Indeed, with both an overhead and tall standing heater at each table, we were as comfortable as can be. In fact, halfway through dinner, two of us even shed our coats because we were that warm.

The nicely appointed parklet.
The nicely appointed parklet.

With our server’s charming Italian accent, we almost felt like we had taken a trip to Italy during the holidays, too.

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