My wife had her "birthweek" last week. Durning her week long birthday celebration, I had the opportunity to dine at Quince and Pizzaiolo-two high profile restaurants I have not been to. Both of the chefs trace their history back to Chez Panisse and despite their differences in decor and service- many of the dishes(especially the starters) had similar slants.
We went to Pizzaiolo first with my parents. My parents love Italian food and like to eat early which seemed to be a good fit for Pizzaiolo since you need to get there at 5:30 or you are out of luck. We got there at 5:40 and were seated at the last table available. By 6:45 when we left the wait was about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
All of the starters were execllent We started with an Asparagus Dish with panchetta and egg. The Asparagus was extremely fresh and the combined with the pachetta and egg made for an excellent starter. We also had a beet salad which like the Asparagus the beets were perfect and the whole dish came together well. Even my wife who hates beets like that dish. We had another antipasta with speck, but it wasn't as memorable as the other two dishes.
The only second course that we had were the Pork Meatballs which were juicy and delicious. I just wish there was more of them(especially for $14.00). We had two pizzas- Margarita(w/prosceutto) and a Sausage with rocket. Both of the pizzas were excellent, but the flavorful sausage made that pie the big winner. I liked the excessive char of the crust and the texture of the pizzas better than its competition across the bay.
The service was informal but friendly. The place was a little chaotic and noisy, but that seemed to be the vibe that they were going for. The space was bigger than I imagined and I didn't feel that the tables were too cramped. Overall I thought at Pizzaiolo lived up to the hype, but I might feel a little different if I waited an hour and half to get in.
Relative to the other hyped Pizza's places, I have to say this is the best one I've been to so far. I liked it better than A16 and even my neighborhood favorite-Dopo. I haven't tried the place in Larkspur yet, but will probably make my way there eventually.