Early immigrants to the Napa Valley include Italians and Swiss-Italians, who arrived in Napa County as early as the 1860s and whose immigration here continued for many decades. This history, combined with the Napa Valley wine industry, the availability of fresh, local, organic ingredients, and chefs with decades of experience, it is apt that many of Napa Valley’s most popular restaurants focus on pizza and other Italian- inspired dishes.
Whether it be a Roman-style crust, a traditional family dough recipe, house-cured meats, or unique toppings such as salad or fried eggs, there is an abundance of pizza options with compelling allure. Below is a list of some local favorites.
1260 Main St., Napa
Christina and Michael Gyetvan, borrowing money from family, opened the original Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca at Second and Franklin Streets in 2001 which eventually relocated to its larger, current location on Main Street in 2008. Michael, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, brings with him over 30 years of experience as a chef, while Christina manages the business. What makes Azzurro different from other pizza restaurants is the dough, which has evolved over the years into what it is today. It is made daily with organic 00 flour, yeast, olive oil, salt, and Napa water. Customers rave about the pizza menu, which has not changed since the restaurant’s inception in 2001. Specialties include Manciata – pizza crust with a salad on top – a seasonal
Pie of the Day, Create your Own Pasta (for adults and children), and other customer favorites like the Margherita and Formaggio pizzas, roasted beets, baked rigatoni, and Caesar salad. Azzurro also offers both gluten- free dough and pasta.
1141 First St, Napa
Downtown Napa’s Ca’ Momi Osteria coins itself as “built on Napa Valley soil, but rooted in soulful Italian tradition.” Founders Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Dario De Conti, and Stefano Migotto developed the winery of the same name in 2006, the Enoteca in 2010, then the restaurant in 2015. Ca’ Momi prides itself on “heart- crafted” cuisine made with local organic ingredients with authentic Italian flavors, preparation, and presentation. The restau- rant makes pizza according to Vera Pizza Napoletana guidelines, which means it is cooked for 90 seconds in a 900-degree wood-burning stove. Ca’ Momi is one of the few restaurants in the United States to carry the Verace Pizza Napoletana, Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, and Ospitalitầ Italiana certifications. House specialties include the Pizza Porchetta e Rucola, the Organic Pizza Margherita DOP, and You had me at Pizza! Dinner, which includes burrata and verdure, two pizza choices, a salad, and dessert with portions for two to eight people. Gluten- free crust and flatbread are available, as are vegan options.
1517 W. Imola Ave., Napa
In 2020, Fazerrati’s Pizza, which locals affectionally call Fazi’s, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Napa native and owner, Troy Cary, began at the restaurant in 1990 as a delivery driver and worked his way to serve as general manager 1995. In 2010, he and his wife, Denise, purchased the restaurant from founder John Johnston. The Carys, along with daughter Chelsie Blakley, ensure that this fun, old-school Napa pizza parlor in the River Park Shopping Center, where locals frequently get together to watch sports, stays true to its classic roots. Their pizza dough is made using spring wheat flour from the Midwest, which is cool fermented 24 to 48 hours, hand-rolled, and baked in a revolving-deck pizza oven. The restaurant uses fresh, local ingredients, such as Salinas Valley tomatoes and mozzarella. “We teach our pizza makers to create each pizza with pride as though it were for their best friend,” said Cary. Fazerrati’s offers 16 different pizzas, including the customer favorite, Real Italian – the restaurant’s version of Margherita – as well as Fazerrati’s Supreme, The Ragin’ Cajun, the Create Your Own.
635 First St., Napa
The history of what is now known as Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is more 70 years old. The story began when Italian- born Vincent DePhilippis and his French- born wife, Madeleine Manfredi, arrived in the United States in 1922. They later met in New York, married in 1925, moved to San Diego in 1947, and in 1950, opened their first Italian restaurant. Today there are 15 family-owned and operated Filippi’s Pizza Grotto restaurants. Thomas Finch, who brings his longtime chef and culinary experience from the Four Seasons Clift Hotel and Marriott International, opened Napa’s restaurant in March 2005. It is known for its pizza pie – a crust filled with a variety of ingredients and spices, then covered with mozzarella and baked in a brick oven – as well as its garlic knots, lasagna, and meatballs. A local customer favorite is The Italian Feast for Two, which includes a pizza, two house salads, two plates of pasta, and house-made focaccia. Gluten-free options are available.
3385 Old California Way, Napa
Foodshed Take Away is the latest project of Napa natives, high school classmates, and longtime culinary stars, Giovanni Guerrera and Sean Pramuk. Guerrera was living and working in Rome, Italy, when he conceived the idea of a sustainable, community restaurant and teaching kitchen that focuses on what the Napa Valley has to offer in terms of agricultural, natural, and human resources. What makes the restaurant’s pizza unique is its doughmaking, inspired by Roman street food pizza, a 48-hour fermentation process that creates a crunchy and chewy sourdough crust. The house specialties are the restaurant’s burrata cheese pizza with tomato, olive oil, and oregano and its pepperoni pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, roasted fennel, and red onion. Foodshed also offers a variety of dishes like soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and packaged meals to go along with a wine-bar and bottle shop with over 100 wines. Gluten-free and vegan menu items are available.
1016 Main St., St. Helena
Pizzeria Tra Vigne and Restaurant, under the helm of managing partner, Cynthia Ariosta, and chef Anthony “Nash” Cognetti, is a St. Helena Main Street “community staple,” having served locals and tourists for over 25 years. It is the restaurant’s sour- dough pizza crust, an ode to San Francisco, which distinguishes it from other pizza restaurants. The crust is made more like bread than pizza dough, going through a multiday fermentation process that gives it a characteristic sourdough tartness while remaining both crispy and chewy. Piadine, another customer favorite, is made from pizza crust topped with sauces and salads. The menu includes salads, pasta, sandwiches, and its irresistible Original Mozzarella “al Minuto” – hot and briny, hand-pulled mozzarella served with grilled garlic bruschetta, olive oil, and rosemary – a favorite menu item obtained from the former Tra Vigne Restaurant that closed in 2015. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. Tra Vigne’s patio is popular for outdoor dining and their daily 7-0-7 happy hours with daily drink specials and $1 oysters on the half shell.
Other Pizza Restaurants Not To Miss
Bistro Don Giovanni – www.bistrodongiovanni.com
Ciccio – www.ciccionapavalley.com
Live Fire Pizza – www.livefireoxbow.com
Mary’s Pizza Shack – www.maryspizzashack.com
Oenotri – www.oenotri.com
Papa Joe’s Pizza –www.papajoespizzaca.com
That Pizza Place – www.sthelenapizza.com
The Forge Pizza – www.theforgepizza.com
Article By: Elizabeth Smith