March 1, 2007
Pizza Scene Perks Up

In The Sacramento Bee's Travel section this Sunday, I'll have an article about Cactus League dining in Scottsdale and Phoenix. In it, I say I haven't had better pizza than the ones I've had at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, and I'm sticking to that. After lunch today at the new Pizza Antica in Granite Bay, however, I recognize that we don't have to go all the way to Arizona for truly first-rate pizza.

To me, the first measure of a great pizza is the crust, and the thinner, smokier, crispier and more fresh and flavorful it tastes, the better. And that's just how it was at Pizza Antica, one of the first businesses to open at Quarry Pond Town Center, which is to play host to so many food businesses it's bound to become known as the Sacramento region's answer to San Francisco's Ferry Building.

Pizza Antica looks more like sunny Parisian bistro than dark Florentine trattoria, with a floor of small black-and-white tiles, a ceiling that looks like pressed tin, bentwood chairs, ceiling fans and a staff in black t-shirts and long white aprons. The open kitchen is tiled in gleaming white, flames flare in the pizza ovens, lively music plays in the background, and the walls are hung with wry landscape photos (a VW bug rusting on rangeland; an old water tank in Rio Linda).

As to the pizza, I had the No. 7, a spirited and wholesome spread of grilled radicchio, goat cheese, pancetta and pesto, each ingredient fulfilling the restaurant's vow to emphasize fresh and regional ingredients ($9.95 the small, $15.50 the large).

This is the fourth Pizza Antica. The others are in Mill Valley, Lafayette and San Jose. They are the inspiration of Tim Stannard, Brannin Beal and executive chef Gordon Drysdale, who played an instrumental role in restaurants like Buckeye Roadhouse in Mill Valley and Gordon's House of Fine Eats in San Francisco.

Pizza Antica, 5540 Douglas Blvd., is open daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; (916) 786-0400.

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