Pizzaiolo, Oakland California

Last weekend, Joe and I attended a lovely and fun wedding of two great friends (and fellow food lovers) at the Pizzaiolo restaurant in Oakland. We both agreed that the food that was served was probably the best and most memorable wedding meal we’ve ever had. The restaurant is opened by Charlie Hallowell, who trained and worked for Alice Waters of Chez Panisse for 8 years. Following the same principle as Waters, Charlie only uses fresh and local ingredients, so even the Bride and Groom didn’t know what the restaurant was going to serve until they saw the menu along with the guests. Oh besides baking the bread (and also the delicious wedding cake) in house, Pizzaiolo also makes a killer tonic that you can order on its own, but even better with bourbon or gin. I had the pleasure of helping to set up decorations prior to the wedding as well as performing the ceremony music, so I had the chance to chat with the restaurant’s staff. The manager and the rest of the team are all extremely friendly, capable, and knowledgeable.

Since I was busy right after the ceremony, I didn’t get pictures of the tasty hand passed hors d’oeuvres, but I sure ate a lot of them. We enjoyed raw oysters with shallot mignonette, salmon tartare toasts, cheese fritters, and roasted padron peppers (so good that I made them yesterday, post coming next.) Just when we finished slurping down all these oysters, we saw servers coming out with pizzas. Wood-fired pizzas, of course, are what Pizzaiolo is known for. We enjoyed slices after slices until we were pretty much full and wondered how we were going to eat dinner. Two different kind of pizzas were served, potato/rosemary/pancetta/fontina and wild nettles with pecorino. Both were phenomenal but I especially enjoyed the nettles. The oven crisps up the leaves, sort of like eating kale chips. They are earthy and crunchy, and the salty pecorino was the perfect addition.

Onto the scrumptious dinner spread. Everything was served family-style.

[below] bourbon with housemade tonic. I drank quite a few of these…hehe

pizzaiolo_bourbon tonic

[below] house bread (SO GOOD!) with soft butter.

pizzaiolo_bread

[below] cantaloupe starter with marash pepper flakes. Juicy and refreshing.

pizzaiolo_cantaloupe

[below] Watermelon & roasted eggplant with black olives, ricotta salata, and mint. Great balance between the sweet and savory ingredients.

pizzaiolo_watermelon salad

[below] Marinated beets & avocado with fennel, charmoula & marash pepper. The beets were nicely marinated, and paired very well with the creamy avocado.

pizzaiolo_avocado beets

[below] Blue heron Farms little gems with creme fraiche, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. I was so in love with this salad which was packed with flavor! Crisp and tender lettuce dressed with tangy creme fraiche dressing, the sun sugar tomatoes sweet and juicy, perfectly ripened! And the slight crunch from the cucumber added a nice textural contrast. This was such a simple salad but it hit a solid 10 in everything that I look for in a salad.

pizzaiolo_little gem tomato

[below] Braised Stone Valley pork. Served with sweet corn succotash (not pictured), green beans (below), gypsy peppers and salsa verde. This was such a comforting dish. The caramelized vegetables, zesty salsa verde, plus the few fatty pork belly pieces in there totally hit the home run for me. The rustic succotash that served alongside the pork was really delicious as well.

pizzaiolo_pork

[below] Green beans. So sweet and tender.

pizzaiolo_green beans

[below] Two different kinds of wedding cake. Here is the flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream and salted caramel sauce. With just the right amount of decadence and richness, this was a nice finish to a gourmet meal.

pizzaiolo_chocolate cake

[below] Vanilla chiffon cake with creme fraiche, lemon curd, and strawberry. This was a light cake packed with divine summer flavors and I especially loved the creme fraiche frosting. I can see myself eating four or five more slices of this.

pizzaiolo_creme fraiche cake

[below] The night ended with some fun dancing (I worked very hard to work off some calories!) The restaurant gave me a loaf of the yummy bread to bring home. A giant loaf that we lived off of for a whole week!

pizzaiolo_bread loaf

Thanks Pizzaiolo for a fantastic meal. I can’t wait to come back and try more of your amazing creations!

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