Overall Experience - 9.1
Summary : Pizzeria Picco is one of the best pizza places in the Bay Area. Located 45 minutes north of San Francisco this intimate spot serves delicious pies with fresh, creative topping combinations
I spent the summer of 2012 living in San Francisco and had the opportunity to visit many notable pizza spots in Bay Area while I was out there including Little Star, Liguria Bakery, Cheese Board and perhaps my favorite, Arinell Pizza. One place I didn’t get to cross of my list was the highly regarded Pizzeria Picco (316 Magnolia Avenue) in Larkspur, California — a 45 minute drive north of San Francisco. I recently spent a couple of days in San Francisco and Pizzeria Picco was at the very top of my hit-list. I drove there right from the airport for a late Sunday afternoon lunch.
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at the restaurant is that it’s small. Very small. In fact the only seats inside are at a bar. And there are only about 10 stools. Outside, under an awning there are 7 tables. The restaurant utilizes the outdoor space all year around (in the winter time, even though it doesn’t get that cold, the outdoor space is enclosed). With a capacity of just about 35 people, the prime time waits can be gruesome. Which is why Pizzeria Picco not only offers take-out pizza, but also sells frozen versions of some of their pies which can be heated up at home. Although I didn’t try any of those, I was told that they are all made fresh daily and vacuum sealed.
In addition to pizza (about 10 pies on the menu + a daily special), Pizzeria Picco also serves a selection of soups, appetizers, and ice cream — the latter of which was quite popular on the warm afternoon I was there. I grabbed one of the bar stools inside and while all the tables outside were full, there wasn’t a wait.
I order two pies: a “Son Of Yeti” (hen of the woods mushroom, leeks, thyme, fresh garlic, mozzarella, pecorino, parmesan) and a nameless special pie that contained asparagus, smoked mozzarella, arugula, pesto, roasted garlic, shaved Parmesan, and Calabrian chili oil (I ordered it without sopressata and they threw on extra asparagus). What I really, really liked about the special pie was rather than large chunks of asparagus the pie contained tiny slices. You don’t see asparagus on pizza often, but I’m convinced that this is the form in which is should appear. It complimented all of the other ingredients very well. The pesto and arugula added two light, springtime elements, the oil added a kick, and the mozzarella, parm, and garlic created the base of the pie’s flavors. It was solid on all fronts.
The second pie I had was equally delicious. Rather than raw or partially cooked whole mushroom slices, which you’ll typically see on pizza, this pie had “hen of the woods” mushrooms. This type of mushroom is usually a more expensive breed and I would describe its caps as thick mushroom shavings when they are removed and applied to the pie. It a refreshing take on the mushroom pie and I wish more pizzerias experimented with different types of mushrooms.
Other than the marinara pie, pizzas ranged from $14-$18 — pretty reasonable considering not only the quality, but also the size. They’re personal pies, but three people could certainly split two — especially if you’re indulging in dessert. The restaurant is situated on the southern end of Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur’s main commercial street — so there are some cool shops and galleries you can check out while you’re in town (or waiting for a table!). Affordable pies, with creative high-quality topping combinations, and good service is a winning combination. Pay a visit to Pizzeria Picco and see for yourself.