Sarah's Sojourn #3: Real Deal Pizza [and tasty sprouts!] at Vignette Pizzeria

in food •  2 years ago  (edited)

Yesterday morning started with a hike and ended with a belly full of pizza. 

After burning my fair share of calories hiking Quarryhill Botanical Garden, the largest Asian plant sanctuary in the US, I found myself craving authentic Neapolitan pizza and that meant one thing: a road trip to Vignette Pizzeria in Sebastopol, about 30 minutes west of Quarryhill. 

Vignette Pizzeria is located in the Barlow, an "outdoor market district" that comprises boutiques, breweries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants. It's a former applesauce cannery. 

Arriving at Vignette Pizzeria

Vignette Pizzeria is just that - a pizzeria. It's located in the Barlow, a self-described "outdoor market district" that on the site of a former applesauce cannery (apples are grown in Sebastopol). It's chock full of brewpubs, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. 

Vignette is located in the heart of the property, with ample parking nearby. It's next to a greenspace, where parents sip coffee watching their kids play tag. 

I arrived at 1:30 PM and was seated a two top table. Usually when I'm there, the weather is warm and the windows and industrial doors are open, like the above photograph. On this day, the doors and windows were closed due to the chilly weather, creating a warm and cozy experience in the restaurant, despite its industrial design look.

A giant chalkboard features illustrations of the house favorites. The wood lining the wall is used for the wood-fired oven.

Pizzaiolo and owner Mark Hopper feeding his Italian oven wood. It will heat up to 850-900 degrees.

The philosophy at Vignette Pizzeria

Vignette is a labor of love by pizzaiolo (a person who makes pizza) and proprietor Mark Hopper. In his 30 years of working in the restaurant industry, Hopper was hired, fired and hired again by famed chef Thomas Keller - a rare accolade for anyone familiar with chef Keller's work ethic.

Like so many of us, Hopper's favorite food growing up was pizza. As a child, he enjoyed the pizza pies made by his Italian grandparents, who made pizza, fresh pasta, and served wine in their vast garden.

"I learned the beauty of repetition from Chef Thomas Keller doing the same task over and over always looking to improve and evolve; always respecting the product and its history. I found that beauty and love in making pizza .The rich history energizes me and the challenge of all the daily nuances humbles me. Using my hands, while reflecting on my grandfather's focus on the working of his craft in his day, with my heart I chase the vision of pizza perfection." - Mark Hopper

All of his food, minus salads, cheese and charcuterie, are prepared in a wood-fired oven imported from Naples, Italy. It's beautiful, covered in dark blue tiles.

But, don't let it's beauty fool you - it is no gentle creator of delicious things.

The oven heats to 850-900 degrees to cook Hopper's 12" pizzas and accompanying seasonal sides, which thankfully on my trip included Brussels sprouts.

Hopper's Neapolitan pizza crust is made in the purest way, as it should be: organic flour, water, and salt.

The menu at Vignette Pizzeria

As you guessed, Vignette specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza. According to one of my favorite food writers, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, it is the "simplist form of pizza." It was the first pizza - the original, created in Naples centures ago, it is such a vital component to Italian food culture that Neapolitan pizza is listed on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage

In keeping with Neapolitan tradition, Hopper's dough comprises the simplest of ingredients: organic flour, water and salt. (Yes, for our vegan friends, it is indeed vegan!) Hopper uses a special type of "00" flour, which is high-protein and extra fine. The flour makes it crispy on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside.

The Meatball (top) and Burrata & Broccoli (bottom) pizzas served with a market salad. Housemade breadsticks are offered, complementary, to nibble on while waiting for your food.

Vignette's specialities include classics and Hopper's own creations. Pizzas include a classic Margherita, a meatball pizza, and the vegan Mo, which is simply San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, oregon and extra virgin olive oil. Hopper's modern pizzas include the Red Eye (buffalo mozzarella, a farm egg, charred mortadella, and calabrian chili pesto) and Burrata & Broccoli (San Marzano tomatoes, olives, broccoli, burrata and chili oil).

Starters and sides include olives, lemon-rosemary bread, almonds, seasonal salads, and garlic with butter & herbs - all simple dishes. Hopper also offers a daily, oven-roasted seasonal veggie dish.

You can also order local beer and wine, many of which are made by wineries that have tasting rooms nearby in the Barlow.


Time to eat (and drink) at Vignette

I wanted a nice, cold beer after hiking at Quarryhill. However, Vignette is not a go-to spot for beer enthusiasts - they only carry two ever-changing, albeit local, beers on tap and one beer by the bottle, the latter being Italy's answer to Budweiser, Peroni.

Today's beers were Bear Republic's Racer 5 IPA and HenHouse Brewing Company's Saison. I'm not an IPA fan and the saison made me nervous. A lot of local breweries like to make really strong, super fruity, smelly saisons. I expressed my concern to my server and she brought me a sample - it was really delicious! It reminded me of a crisp, refreshing Belgian-style ale like La Chouffe - at almost half the ABV (5.5%).

To complement my beer, I ordered the Margherita pizza - the mother of all pizzas - which is simply San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil. I added a farm egg on top I also ordered the day's seasonal veggie: oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with chili oil.

The beautifully presented Brussels sprouts arrived within moments from the nearby pizza oven (within a stones throw from my table). Touches of char graced select sprouts, which were halved. Freshly shaved cheese and flaked sea salt garnished the sprouts, alongside edible orange flowers, which added a peppery flavor to the dish. A touch of chili oil was drizzled on top, which wasn't as spicy as I expected - more savory.

Overall, the dish was not only one of the prettiest preparations of sprouts I've ever seen, it was delightful. A nice, delicate, savory plate that was refreshing in a world where sprouts are primarily served with bacon.

Next arrived my beloved Margherita pizza with an egg on it.

The edges of the crust were charred to prefection and the egg was perfectly cooked. An egg on pizza is a challenge, as it must be added onto the pizza in the very last second of cooking due to fear of overcooking the egg. I have literally had pizza's come out with hard boiled eggs on top. Not this pizza, thankfully.

The crust, sauce, cheese and egg were just delicious together - a perfect homage to Hopper's "mi familia."

For the record, I did, in fact, eat the entire pizza. I took half the sprouts home. I'm serious about my pizza. Here is a photograph I took in the summer, when I made the trip to Vignette, to which I captioned "don't judge me" on Instagram. 

You may notice I do not eat my crust. For me, crust is a perfect vehicle for delivering pizza into my mouth. It also fills me up, and there is no way I'm going to waste all the delicious toppings in the middle!

Final thoughts about Vignette Pizzeria

I slowly worked through the rest of my beer after enjoyably devouring my pizza. I was ready to make the trek back to Sonoma, but not without a stroll around the Barlow to burn, at least, one or two calories, if I was lucky.

Vignette is a cool, hip pizza place that holds tradition on high. However, Hopper doesn't fear experimenting with fresh veggies and pretty presentations. I'll be returning time and time again to get my pizza fix.

Take note

Vignette Pizzeria is family friendly and dogs are allowed on their small patio. It's also ADA accessible.

Take action - visit Vignette Pizzeria! 

Stop by Vignette Pizzeria when you're visiting West Sonoma County. It's a great pit stop when wandering the wineries and breweries of the Sebastopol area. Relax with friends over a pizza (or two) and a drink, and wander the Barlow, checking out the many boutiques and tasting rooms.

Vignette Pizzeria is open Thursday-Monday for lunch and dinner. They are located at the Barlow, 6750 McKinley Street, Sebastopol CA 95472. Call (707) 861-3897 or visitvignettepizzeria.com/for more information.

About Sarah

Sarah Stierch is a journalist and photographer based in Sonoma, California in the United States. She primarily works in the realms of wine, travel, food and culture. Her work can be discovered in Wine Enthusiast, Sonoma Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, KQED, Motorburn, The Huffington Post, North Bay Biz, North Bay Woman, the Bohemian, The Press Democrat, Sonoma Index-Tribune, and more. She's a former fellow at the Wikimedia Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and Berkeley Center for New Media.

Photo credit

1. Pizza and oven - Courtesy of Vignette Pizzeria

2. Vignette Pizzeria - Courtesy of Zagat

3. Chalkboard and patron - @mrdanielparker via Instgram

4. Mark Hopper with oven - Courtesy of Vignette Pizzeria

5. Pizza crust - Courtesy of Vignette Pizzeria 

6. Pizzas and salad - @daisysfashiongarden via Instagram

All remaining photographs by myself.

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Good For You ..
Attractive pictures .. Hhh I think we have a publicity here
Thank you for sharing with us your adventure

@Slimanepro - Thanks for stopping by and reading!

AYYY GREAT POST!

Awesome GIF!! And thanks :D

Sounds like the Vignette Pizzeria has something special to offer. How long have you been visiting that pizzeria?

Thanks for reading @whitneynoel! About 1.5 years now? Quite a special place, indeed.

Thanks now i am hungry and jealous I NEED PIZZA :))B

Ha! Did you get that pizza? :D

No have not been but looks great i will be making pizza this week though

You can tell this is very authentic Italian Food! I love wood fired pizza, I am such a big fan! The food looks delicious and the photography is beautiful! Great work @sarahvain! 👍

Thank you so much @purefood! I also just bought some Brussels sprouts so I'm going to try your balsamic recipe later this week :)

You're welcome! Really glad to hear it, let me know how it turns out for you!

Ohhh man.... I'm really in the mood to have a pizza...like yours!
It looks like you had a deliciously time in there.
Hugs from Romania, @sarahvain !

Indeed, I did! Thanks for reading and the kind words @missdeli :)

You're very welcome! :)

@sarahvain this is such an amazing review! I love it. You go into so much detail about the place and the food. I want to go to bed, but now I kinda want a pizza as well.

I'm really blown away by the quality of your writing and the high standard of all your posts. I'm also so happy you're posting all these travel-related ones onto steemit worldmaps!

Hi @choogirl!! Thanks again for your kind words and support - it means so much, especially being a "minnow" in the land of Steemit doing my best to share content I think people might enjoy.

I really appreciate it - now go to bed and dream of pizzas! ;-)

Lol, I should, but I've got caught up in Discord chat.

I think your content is great. I don't it will take long for people to discover that.

I need to check out the chat....but I fear I might never sleep again, too! :)

The Minnow Support Project is awesome. Here is the link https://discord.gg/ADueaXX

Feel free to DM me when you're in there. I'm choogirl on there as well.

Wow!! Seriously, an amazing recount. I am obsessed with fried eggs and I try them on anything I can - but I have never tried them on pizza before!! I want to so bad now!

Thank you @jessmal! Fried eggs are amazing and yes, having one on a pizza is divine. You can tip the pizza into it as you enjoy, and then enjoy that last bite of eggy pizza as "icing on the cake." I look forward to hearing about it when you do try it! :) Thanks again for reading.

great work on the pizza review.. now im regretting reading this post as im craving for a pizza right now but im currently on a diet! haha awesome post! :)

Ha! Sorry Andy!! You're only getting Brussels sprouts ;-) Thanks for reading and don't forget to reward yourself!

noooooo! haha yeah its important to reward ourselves from time to time! thank you for sharing this post to us! see ya! :)

I want that pizza. It looks so great in the wood-fired oven.
You are part of my "Food By Red Fish" #20. Check it out.

Wow. This is food porn. I am instantly hungry even though I just ate breakfast. What a wonderfully written and photographed post! Super impressed!

Thank you so much @carlgnash! Grateful you stopped by to read - now wipe the drool off your chin. ;-) Hehe!

Just WOW!!!!!! I'm like about to sleep here in Cebu, Philippines but your writing and these pictures, you are taking me there. How I wish, I could also learn to bake their pizza. But no, I can't really do that. The Italians, they are the creator of pizza! Thanks for this very interesting review @sarahvain <3 You're one great writer! Much love from Philippines :)

Thank you @rosevillariasa for reading. Now I'm curious - did you have dreams about pizza? Ha! I'm not the savviest of cooks, so I will leave it to the chef (and Italians) to serve me their delicious creations. Sleep tight!!

Amazing review! Looks so tasty this pizza! Pitty that i live far away. Nice post!

Thanks @daniii. Barcelona has amazing food, too. I'm sure you can find some amazing Neapolitan style pizza there - you're even closer to the real deal in Italy than I am! :) Thanks again for reading!

Haha, your comment about the crust made me laugh :) For me crust is also important part as much as the middle. Inevitable! I really appreciate if the dough is perfectly made. If I had to exclude it, then...meh...

I forgot to say, the photos you posted are great.

HA! Well if we ever have pizza together YOU can have MY crust! Deal? :)

And thanks for reading and the kind words!

Lol, I wouldn't be happy eating only crusts, LOL Perfect balance is my choice.

Well... Maybe, a loooot of good cheese would make me happy, too :D

@srahvain My wife would be in love with that place for two reasons. Neapolitan pizza and the fact that is is vegan.

I would have gotten the red eye pizza in a heartbeat and I can't go without a saison beer. That's my favorite style of beer. It has a sour taste to it almost like lemonade beer.

@humanearl - Sounds like both of you would love this place! :) So cool to know it's right up your alley. I hope you can visit Sebastopol someday to go there. It might be Wine Country, but Sonoma County is famous for our beer, too. Cheers! :) (Be sure to check out HenHouse Brewing Co.!)

Nice post....all the recipes looks really nice and yummy.

Thanks for reading! Cheers!

Cheers

Wow, this looks great. I would really like to know how to make one. Lovely post

Heya, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in our Daily Travel Digest!

As @choogirl already stated this is a seriously amazing review! Looking forward to more!

Thank you so much!! I am honored.

I think the crust wouldve been too dry, the middle looks tasty.

Have you ever had Neapolitan style pizza? This is the traditional way of making it and it's absolutely divine - it's perfect. You would find it quite delicious, I am sure! This is the traditional method found in Italy. Thanks for reading!

Thats true, my auntie is from Italy and she came to the UK and made Italian lasagne, which is a different method from the UK. Also she made pizza which was really this base and delicious, that wasnt dry. It was lovely. Forgot what type of pizza it was, but I must agree Italians know how to make good food.

I wouldn't be surprised if she made pizza like the one above!

I have to tell you - I've been to the UK many times and never had a good pizza. LOL :)

Lol I agree with you, her pizza was different and delicious. I think the Uk is trying, but cant make it exactly like Italy as it orginates from there. Its like trying to make a curry better than india. You just cant do it lol

Hahaha! So true. Here in the US we would say "it must be in the water." :)

Lol, it must be Hun

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hmm good Pizza

I agree! Good indeed. Thanks for stopping by!

That pizza speaks to you!

It sures does - and my belly! ;-) Thanks for reading!!

yayy !! I am coming to grab my Pizza.

See you soon! LOL :)

The pizza looks delicious, the one made in a fired-owen with a great paste made usually are the best Italian pizza.

Absolutely! Thanks for coming by - it tasted delicious, too!

Congratulations @sarahvain!
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I’m a fan of Mary’s Pizza on the square in Sonoma when I get to town.

Ah, yes, I live a few blocks from there. Make sure you check out the new Slice Shack they opened up when you're in town next time: http://www.maryssliceshack.com/ I actually like the slices there better than the pizza at Mary's.

I will. Thanks!

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It looks very cozy the place and very tasty food

It absolutely is! Thanks so much for stopping by @armandofd!

pizza.jpg

Tell me about it. I'm craving pizza again. And cat cuddles.

Guao!! interesante, muy buen lugar, me encanta! Saludos amigo.

Gracias :D

I think it's delicious.
Appetite looks.

Surely tastes delicious! Thanks for popping by :)

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wow!

Thanks for coming by @noki-power!

Looks amazing!

Tasted as great as it looked! Thanks for popping by for a slice ;)

Thanks for having me 😉

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