Who says pizza must always have red sauce and mozzarella? These reimagined takes on a familiar favorite are winning fans around the county.
Perhaps influenced by their love of quesadillas, Frank Noel Fernandes’ two daughters asked for plain naan for lunch and dinner every day, sprinkling mozzarella on top. “I thought I should give it a try in my restaurant,” Fernandes says. Baked in a tandoor oven, mozzarella naan is fragrant with fenugreek, chaat masala and fresh coriander leaves. At first bite, there is a firmness and a slight crunch that gives way to softness. Ask for chopped green chiles for the “give me some heat” experience.
Shangri-La Kitchen’s former chef and co-owner Manish Poudel reopened earlier this spring as an Italian restaurant that includes pizza. Sure, there is a classic margarita and the Hawaiian pizza, but why not try the chicken tikka variety? Popular at his former spot, it carries the same tomato and curry masala sauce. Mozzarella smooths the curry’s bright edges while fresh basil frames the multi-culti origins of the dish.
Pizza Amore Mio, San Rafael
From a food truck parked near Marinwood Market, Venice native Alessandro Barusco serves up pizza in styles both familiar and novel, like his nutella strawberry pizza. Over a deceptively thin crust handcrafted with Italy’s famous “00” flour — it’s lighter and lower in gluten, Barusco says — a thick layer of chocolately Nutella is laid down and topped with strawberries and a dusting of confectioners sugar — no need for cheese.
The Romans don’t care if the Napolese make their pizzas round — they will make it in an oval shape, thank you very much. And they’ll make the crust from a mix of flours, including wheat, rice and soy, because their empire knows no bounds. So it goes with pinsa. If you are looking for sauce, stick with the classic margarita. Other pinsa, like the tartufata or the potato and rosemary, shun tomato entirely for truffle cream or let fior de latte act as an able stand-in for the red stuff.
If you think your pizza belongs on top of a salad, you’re in luck here. The piadina, or thin flatbread typically eaten across Italy’s wheat belt, is made from homemade pizza dough that’s hand-stretched and topped with roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and black pepper before taking a turn in the pizza oven. Served tender, never crispy, it’s a steady foil for a Caesar or a BLT salad. There’s even a gluten-free version.
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Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.s the Assistant Editor at Marin Magazine and a graduate of Elon University where she studied Professional Writing and Fine Art. Born and raised in San Francisco/Marin, she loves traveling just as much as coming home to the Bay Area. She has curated a sophisticated palate for food, travel and culture and uses her travels as an outlet to develop her photography portfolio and hone her writing craft.