Head to Sonoma County, Geyserville specifically, for some of the best rustic-Italian cuisine around. A welcome reward after a day at Lake Sonoma, the perfect rest stop on your way to or from Mendocino, or a delicious treat any time, Diavola is Italian for female devil, and the food is devilishly good.
The stove, or, in this case, the wood-fired oven, is manned by Dino Bugica, who cooks in the style of “cucina povera”, creating simple, rustic dishes based on local ingredients. Count on a pizza master to master breadsticks. One would sell their soul for these delicious treats, but fortunately there’s no need. The slender sticks, dusted with flecks of salt and herbs, are on the house. But, show some restraint and save room for the main attractions—and there are many.
Starters shine. A current favorite is the grilled asparagus salad with fried egg, pancetta, arugula, and truffled pecorino. Seriously. And the house-cured salumi and cheese tray is a signature dish.
Of course pizzas are a must, and new combinations are rotated in on a seasonal basis. Two of the most flavorful—and longstanding options—are the Cha Cha Cha with smoked pork belly and goat cheese, and the Inferno, a mouth-tingling pie draped in hot peppers, tomato, basil, and mozzarella. All pizzas are available with the addition of house sausage, salumi or prosciutto, anchovies, arugula, mozzarella di bufala ,or a farm egg.
Other dishes worthy of rave reviews is the spaghettini pork cheek ragù and, at lunch, the Diavola Philly Cheese Steak (and this from a PA native).
The wine list focuses on local and Italian alternatives, including a house red: the Hawkes Nero di Campo, a food- and wallet-friendly wine offered by the half liter and jug. On a side note, be sure to visit Hawkes’ nearby tasting room, located along picturesque Highway 128.
Opened in 2008, Diavola is getting better and better. Evolving in tandem with the town of Geyserville, the restaurant remains fiercely loyal to the region’s historical roots while incorporating some fitting modern touches.
Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria
21021 Geyserville Avenue