Ahhhhh pizza! The single most fun thing for some of us to eat. I will never forget my first bite of the stuff! Mmmmmmm.
There was this old-timie restaurant (though I guess not too old-timie back in the day) close to my grandparent’s house when I was a kid. It had plastic plants and red checkered table clothes. When you walked in, you would be greeted by one of the owner’s, most likely making a pizza on the front counter. I would sit on one of the front stools and watch them in aww. I remember they were so nice, and would always flip the pizza’s high up in the air like a cartoon. It was located next to a little local supermarket, and of course right by Farby’s ice-cream and candy parlor (oh ya, it was awesome!).
If you grew up anywhere in the northern Marin County area of northern California, you might know that name. It was synonymous with incredible handmade pizza, the best we ever had. My grandpa used to take my uncle and myself to this pizza joint. It had that old school Italian vibe. I felt so lucky and special that I got to go here with them. And the pizza there…. oh, the yum of that pizza. The aroma when your pizza arrived at your table. That first amazing bite of that first slice.I thought i would never taste anything like it again.
Then there I was, years later at a pizza joint named Rafy’s in Petaluma. Yes, Petaluma. And no offense to the town, but up until then, finding some gluten-free and vegan lunch in that Petaluma was like trying to find a happy animal at a zoo, pretty much nonexistent. So, when I heard about this place, I was happy, but not expecting much.
So, we head over to this little strip mall, and find Rafy’s next to the Whole Foods. We walk in this little humble joint to be greeted by a couple of friendly dudes. Jay and I walk over to the counter and I ask the guy if it’s true that they have a gluten-free and vegan option (I always gotta double check). He happily replies yes and goes further to make a couple of suggestions. I give him a bit of a lecture on using crappy Pharmaceutically ruined Diaya brand of cheese. He was so nice and polite whilst I went on about the evils of this company and suggested that he check out the glorious cheeses of Violife. I decided not to go off too much, as he was so nice and I didn’t want to come off too pushy. I thanked him for even having a gluten-free/vegan option, and we made our selection, which was mushrooms, olives and onions. We also ordered a couple of drinks and a large house salad.
We sat down and the nice dude brought us glasses with ice for our drinks. Nice cause he used glass glasses and not plastic (which ruins the taste of everything). He was very friendly and saw to all our needs. Before we knew it, he arrived with this giant salad. I mean 4 people could have easily had this! It was good, but the salad dressing…the dressing was delish! It was a surprise and a good sign, as it tasted like old school Italian pizzeria salad dressing, if you know what I mean.
Soon, our pizza arrived. I did not think it was going to be very good. The edges were brunt (as gluten-free pizza bread almost always is) and the use of that crap cheese. Jay said something about the ovens not being calibrated for gluten-free bread. But I thought maybe they could butter the edges with butter (aka Miyoko’s ONLY of course) or put foil around the edges to prevent that burning. Oh well, I thought, might as well give it a try anyway.
Frist bite: “What? Mmmm yumm! What? Time warp? Oh WOW!”
If I close my eyes, and take a bite, there I was, on a Friday night with my grandpa and uncle enjoying the best pizza I ever had. Lucky me!
I couldn’t believe it. Somehow, they had recreated the best pizza I had ever had! What was going on? How was this possible? The dude came to check on us, and I grilled the heck out of him. Turns out the attentive, friendly dude was actually the owner Rafy's himself.
I told him how much we loved it and asked what was his secret. The dude making the pizza’s, Jesse, yelled out “Love!”. And clearly that was true. That was is missing in most commercial goods, but not here. The magical combination of ingredients and love have come together and made an outstanding pizza!
Rafy went on to tell us he is from New York and he has been making pizza since he was 17! From Queens to Manhattan, Rafy worked hard and has always kept the passion and love of the art of great pizza making. And boy howdy does it come through!
You all know I eat out at a ton of restaurants, but rarely are they good enough to talk about much less write about. I have got to love it extremely to recommend it to you. This place might just be at the top of my list. I WANT TO EAT AT RAFY’S!!!
If you are lucky enough to live in their delivery area (dang it we are just at the cut off!), you can get their pizza whilst you are still in your robe and slippers! Lucky!
If you are anywhere in Wine Country, our Sonoma County, or even the Bay Area….it is worth a trip to Rafy’s. I mean I love to support small business (suck it giant corporations) but I mean, I like want to throw a parade for this place. It may sound a bit extreme, but when you eat gluten-free and vegan, finding a place to eat out is always a challenge (unless you live in Berkeley where there is a vegan/gluten-free oasis). And it gets really frustrating, you are out and about, and you just want to grab something to eat. And who doesn’t love pizza? Well I actually I know someone, poor fella. But, pizza! We all love to be able to grab some pizza.
It’s now been a month since we first visited. We have eaten there and taken out a total of 4 times. The pizza toppings we have gotten have been the same as our first choice with the addition of basil, and my attempt at a Hawaiian Pizza (which was so gooood!)... it was carmalized onions, bell pepper, mushrooms and of course, pineapple, drool worthy!
Every single time was consistently great! Whether you are out wine tasting, taking care of some errands, or you just want fantastic pizza, just start driving. I will meet you at Rafy’s.