Pizzeria Picco

I first figured out where Larkspur actually is when The San Francisco Magazine printed a glowing review and full-page glossy photo a Straus Dariy Soft Serve cone dripping with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel. Odd, I know, but in an intriguing way. About a month later, a city-dwelling friend shared his opinion that Pizzeria Picco makes one of the best pizzas in the area. It's been on the To Visit List since, but we haven't found much occasion to head that way, until today. Today was one of those perfect days for which convertibles were invented. We've also been shopping for a piano and JB Piano Company in San Rafael came highly recommended. After a drive complete with many traffic-avoiding maneuvers (I love the Nuvi) and a lovely view of all the sailboats in the Bay, we made it to Larkspur, a surprisingly cute town that felt a little East Coast, perhaps because it's uncharactaristically green for this time of year in CA. It's also much closer to San Francisco than I had realized.Pizzeria Picco succeeds off the bat in one area where many Peninsula and City restaurants fail: it has plentiful outdoor seating. The staff was kind enough to let us have one of the tables in the dappled shade of the restaurant Picco's vine-draped deck. We were quickly served cool glasses of wine from the short but interesting list and a bowl of gazpacho of tomato, cucumber, and melon drizzled with olive oil that looked like amber beads set into the surface. Very refreshing and the melon made it just a little different. Smooth gazpacho seems to be all the rage this season, but I sometimes miss the crunch and contrast of the more rustic preparation.We ordered two pizzas: a margherita and a new cannondale (house-made sausage, cherry tomatoes, torpedo onions, mozzarella, and basil). The flavor and consistency of the crusts was fantastic: not too chewey, thin but still strong enough to support the toppings. The toppings too were very good, though they didn't quite achieve the so-good-you-just-can't-stop-even-though-you're-full level. Pizzeria Picco and Pizzeria Delfina are actually very similar in style. Though I love the peace at Larkspur and I may slightly favor their crusts, the tomato sauce and toppings at Delfina do more for me. Delfina also has a much stronger selection of salads and sides (mmm, Crazy Melon Salad, beets...) and it's so much closer. Where Picco really sets itself apart is with dessert, one of the reasons we made the trip to begin with. Pizzeria Picco makes their soft-serve themselves (which I learned after a fruitless attempt to find somewhere closer to get it) with Straus Dairy milk and, for the chocolate variety, Scharffenberger chocolate. Both are deliciously rich and creamy and made me mourn the wasted opportunity of all the soft-serve I ate in my boarding school dining hall, which had nothing on this. We tried chocolate and vanilla swirl dipped in an El Rey chocolate coating. Though the shell was lightyears beyond the waxy crap at Dairy Queen, it didn't offer real chocolate satisfaction - too thin and lacking snap? However, the controversial bowl of vanilla drizzled with olive oil and sea salt was transcendent. Unusual - absolutely. But also tirelessly delicious. Perhaps it's a good thing that I don't more often have time for the drive.Pizzeria Picco320 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA. 415.945.8900.Open Monday–Friday, 5pm to 10pm; Saturday–Sunday, noon to 10pm. Takeout available. The flash freeze their most popular pizzas, or any pizza on 24 hours notice, to bake at home.

Explanation of ratings

Attire: as casual as it gets. The heavy 50-something guy at the next table was wearing sweats and a tight biking jersey, not that I'd recommend that look.