Artisan pizza abounds in Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee

THE ITALIANS WHO CAME TO THE FOOTHILLS in the Gold Rush-era brought winemaking to the region, but they also introduced the tradition of baking in stone ovens. Area restaurants and wineries have revived the tradition, from North Auburn to Grass Valley to Nevada City to Truckee.

Sierra Knolls’ Bear River Wine Tasting room, just off Hwy. 49 in North Auburn, has a wood-burning Italian pizza oven for guests to enjoy freshly baked pizza with a glass of wine.

The wood-fired oven at Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. in Nevada City is a masterpiece, built by Mugnaini in Watsonville. Their ovens are used at Culinary Institute of America, Chez Panisse and Sunset’s demonstration kitchen. Under baker and co-owner Shana Maziarz, Three Forks uses the oven for baking pizza, bread, veggies and other food.

Examples of its artisan pizza, which change weekly, include “Pizza Bianca,” fresh mozzarella, talleggio, Grana Padano, garlic and rosemary; or “Arugula & Gorgonzola,” with arugula, gorgonzola, Grana Padano, garlic and red wine vinaigrette. All pizza is on organic wild yeast crust.

In Grass Valley, Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli features a “Pizza Day” on Wednesdays, where pizza is served in a wood-fired oven out- side its front door. Examples of pizza include “Fig, bacon and onion with Gruyère.”

In Truckee, Stella restaurant at the Cedar House Sport Hotel features an Italian-style wood-burning oven for bread and rustic recipes.

Authentic Italian pizza also can be found at Tre Pazzi Trattoria in Auburn. Examples include “Pizza Margherita,” Pizza Quattro Stagioni” and “Pizza con Salsccie,” with tomato sauce, pros- cuitto, olives and Italian sausage.

Lefty’s Grill in Nevada City has won regional awards for its innovative flat-bread pizzas. They include “Sonoma Valley Pizza,” which is grilled flat bread with pesto, mozzarella, roasted fennel and red peppers, prosciutto, pine nuts and fresh basil.

Kane’s Family Restaurant in Grass Valley serves a Pizza Margherita, with a hand-folded 12-inch cracker-thin pizza crust, four cheeses, fresh tomato and basil.

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