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.
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.
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.