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Vignette

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
December, 2014 Issue

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Vignette
6750 McKinley St.
Sebastopol
(707) 861-3897
Pizzeria
Lunch and dinner daily
Pizzas: $14-$19
Wine and beer
 
Vignette isn’t your average pizzeria. Housed in an industrial-style barn in Sebastopol’s Barlow, it’s a heartfelt nod to Neopolitan-style, wood-fired pizza, created by chef and proprietor, Mark Hopper (previously of Farmshop Marin and, before that, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group).
 
The sleek space has an open, high ceiling, is surrounded by wall-to-wall windows (one wall opens up entirely to the outside) and a patio for outdoor seating. The small, open kitchen’s centerpiece is a beautifully tiled Stefano Ferrara oven imported from Naples, and anything that requires cooking goes into it. It’s an open, casual and welcoming gathering space with informed, friendly service. The short wine and beer list features a rotating selection from Californian purveyors as well as some from Italy and New York.
 
We went for Pax “The Hermit” North Coast Syrah (2010; meaty, earthy, hint of pepper) and Ballast Point Big Eye IPA (San Diego; hoppy, citrus) to accompany our meal, which started off with peperoni cruschi, which are whole, mild peppers seasoned with olive oil and sea salt, then placed in the oven to create a light, crunchy snack.
 
Next up was the kale cocio e pepe salad, which is a blend of chopped kale, Peppadew peppers, house smoked mozzarella, toasted walnuts and Greek yogurt, topped with an egg (an option; served sunny side up). It was a dense, delicious mixture that was a truly original take.
 
We chose two of the six pizzas offered on the menu. The pizzas are individually sized (enough for two to share) and sliced into quarters, unless you request otherwise. The crust is made with a base of imported, high-grade Italian flour and is thin (but not too thin) and lightly charred, with a slightly soft center (use your fork for the first bite or two, then pick the rest up) and chewy edges. Hopper also imports his tomatoes from Italy (San Marzano and Corbari), then sources mostly local, organic items to round out his selections.
 
The “Red Eye” is a twist on a breakfast pizza—with a kick from its drizzle of Calabrian chili pesto. It has local eggs, fresh mozzarella, plenty of charred mortadella and Grana Podano cheese. We also enjoyed the “Mushroom Alfredo,” which has garlic cream, roasted mushrooms, house smoked mozzarella, butternut squash, sage and sea salt. We were impressed by both and found them hearty and filling with well-rounded, rich flavors.
 
For dessert, we chose affogato, which is chocolate gelato topped with hazelnuts, then “drowned” in espresso. Served in an old-fashioned Champagne glass, it was rich with flavor and the nuts added just the right amount of texture.
 
The restaurant has only been open since July and has already become a popular choice for lovers of Neapolitan-style cooking. Hopper says he’s developing his offerings as he goes along and will soon make additions to the menu (he mentioned fish and osso bucco as possibilities). We’re looking forward to revisiting and trying more dishes.


 

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