November 21st, 2015
The star attraction at Vignette is Pizza, not just any Pizza but the best Neopolitain Pizza this side of Naples !! How is that possible ? Firstly, the Chef is Mark Hopper, who has stellar credentials, formerly Executive Chef of Casual Dining for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, more latterly Executive Chef at Farmshop Marin, one of the top Marin Restaurant destinations and his passion is Pizza. Secondly, he is using a Stefano Ferrera Brick Wood Burning Oven imported from Naples, known as a “Badge of Honor” among Pizza Chefs and Mark wears his badge with distinction.
These ovens are custom made and hand built by a third generation member of the Ferrara Family who have been designing and building them for nearly one hundred years. They are not inexpensive and this one weighs about 6,000 pounds before installation. Add the cost of shipping and installation to the oven price, and it easily equals the price of a Fiat Family car.
Chef Mark is the Pizzaiolo, the person who makes the Pizze and is Master of the Wood Fired Brick Oven. Special flour and canned tomatoes are imported from Italy and the rest of the ingredients are sourced from the extensive organic farms in the surrounding areas. This includes excellent cheeses, farm fresh vegetables and many varieties of herbs, that when combined by this talented Chef, produce some original and delicious flavors.
At Vignette, Chef Mark prepares the pizza dough by hand. It is cut to size, stretched to ten inch rounds and topped with swirls of delicious homemade sauces prepared by balancing the flavors of locally grown ingredients and topped with artisan cheese. Each Pizza is baked for approximately one minute in the Wood Fired Oven that builds to a temperature of nine hundred degrees. On a busy shift the Chef bakes an incredible eighty to ninety Pizze. Each Pizza comes out piping hot, charred at the edges, with bubbling, melted cheese and the ridiculously fresh, tasty sauces giving off a tantalizing aroma – a feast for the senses as it arrives at the table. Mostly, they are served Neapolitan style, uncut to be torn by hand, shared and enjoyed.
The Pizzeria has a small menu, five antipasti, six pizze, three deserts, craft beer, artisan wine and coffee. Everything on the menu is cooked in the Wood Fired oven including the deserts. While Pizza is the star, the antipasti and deserts come a close second.
Three of the featured antipasti are:
Arugala Salad, arugala, marinated cucumbers, feta cheese, hazelnuts, mimosa vinaigrette dressing.
Wagyu Bresaola, house cured beef, pepperoncini peppers,, gaeta olives, house made ancient grain focacia, baked in the wood fired oven.
Warm Brussel Sprout Salad, fire roasted brussel sprouts, toasted sage, dates, Calabrian chili oil and olive oil.
There are three desserts including Affogato, which is frozen ice cream with a shot of hot espresso poured over and finished with shaved chocolate and nuts, a warm chocolate chip cookie baked in the Wood Fired oven and served hot that is decadent and delicious and Wood Fired fresh seasonal fruits, also served straight out of the oven where their flavors are able to combine and caramelize in the intense heat.
Vignette Pizzeria has seating for sixty guests including the outdoor patio. Service is efficient and friendly and presentation is tops.
Each plate a work of art, colorfully composed of balanced flavors and perfect ingredients. This adds up to a meal prepared by a Chef who has passion for what he does, producing top quality Artisan Pizze in a relaxed venue at an affordable price. Pizza and an antipasti will cost about $20.00 – $25.00 per person, not including alcohol.
Vignette is housed in an industrial, chic, modern warehouse space in the Barlow, Sebastopol, a Culinary and Arts center on Highway 12, the heart of the Russian River Wine Country in Sonoma County. It makes an ideal stop on a day trip from San Francisco. The scenery is bucolic.; winding roads pass through vineyards and apple orchards with beautiful vistas at every turn.