Pizzeria Picco: Enjoying Pizza and Soft Serve in Earthy Setting

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Pizzeria Marin County

Larkspur has surprising bonafides for a small town, and Pizzeria Picco only helps.

San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer’s reviews previously led me to great pizza at Oakland’s Pizzaiolo and San Francisco’s A16, so my antennae started twitching when he proclaimed Pizzeria Picco‘s thin-crust pizza the best in the Bay Area. Sadly, it took a year-and-a-half before I made it to the Marin County hamlet of Larkspur to taste chef Bruce Hill’s Neapolitan-style pizza, but now that I have, I can say it was worth the wait.

In 2005, Chef Hill, previously of Aqua and Fog City Diner, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to open twin restaurants in the former home of Roxanne’s, Roxanne Klein’s pioneering raw food restaurant. Unlike the prior tenant, Chef Hill heats his food above 118 degrees and uses several varieties of meat.

Picco, Hill’s more upscale establishment, was last Roxanne’s restaurant, and the pizzeria occupies Roxanne’s old deli. We wanted a sidewalk table, since it was such a pristine day, but so did everybody else, so we settled for four seats at the counter. The pizzeria also serves as a wine shop, and an entire wall is lined with bottles to drink in-house or to buy to go.

According to the menu, Chef Hill favors local farmers and ranchers who grow organic, and the results were evident on the plates.

Pizza Oven Marin County

A wood-burning oven stocked with cords of almond wood, which impart subtle flavor to the pizzas, is the open kitchen’s centerpiece.

Chef Hill wasn’t in the kitchen during our lunch, but this fill-in pizzaiolo still had plenty of skill.

The blackboard menu is written in colored chalk and fills most of the wall behind the counter. Marin County is a cyclist’s paradise, so they named several pizzas for cycles, including Cannondale, Trek and Specialized.

Pizza Sign Marin County

Somebody affixed a funny sign to the kitchen door, which is also the gateway to restrooms.

Salad Marin County

Picco Caesar ($8.25) combined crisp romaine hearts and fresh Caesar dressing made from farm egg, anchovy, lemon juice and shredded Parmesan.

Pizza Marin County

Cannondale ($12.95) is a sauce-less pizza made with crumbled house-made sausage, diced roasted peppers, thin-sliced spring onion, mozzarella and basil. Pizzeria Picco is so committed to freshness, they even make their own mozzarella, from Formaggi Di Ferrante curds. The crust on all the pies was nice and blistered, thin but not dry.

Pizza Marin County

Margherita ($10.50) was simple but effective, hosting a brushing of tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella, Parmesan and De Padova extra virgin olive oil. It’s never been my style pass on ham, so I took the option to add La Quercia prosciutto Americano ($7). Silky cuts of Iowa-bred hog meat warranted the added expense.

Pizza Marin County

Even though it held no meat, the Seven ($13.95), named for another bicycle, was the best pizza. It melded a mountain of oyster mushrooms, garlic, oregano and three cheeses: mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino. Mushrooms were especially incredible.

Ice Cream Marin County

For dessert, Pizzeria Picco offers Straus Dairy soft serve – vanilla bean, Scharffen Berger chocolate, or swirl ($3.25). I ordered swirl for variety’s sake and opted for an unusual but satisfying topping: Da Vero extra virgin olive oil and sea salt ($4.25). The ice cream on its own was great, especially the chocolate, flecked with ground-up Scharffen Berger chocolate bars. With luxurious olive oil and sea salt crystals, the ice cream achieved near-legendary status.

My father and Jane ordered theirs with dark caramel sauce ($3.95), and Jane added a pinch of sea salt.

Allison ordered her soft-serve coated with an El Rey chocolate shell ($4.25).

Despite Michael Bauer’s rave review, I’m not sure that Pizzeria Picco had better pizza than A16 or Pizzaiolo, but it was certainly very good, and killer soft-serve exclamation point elevated the pizzeria to destination status.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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