The Brickery at Café Beaujolais
Where to go for great pizza in Mendocino
For about a year now, we’ve been hearing glowing reviews of the pizza that Café Beaujolais started making last May at their Brickery. “Creative!” “Delicious!” “You’ve GOT to try it out.” And finally, this past weekend, we did just that.
During our lunch break on Saturday, we drove down to Mendocino village, wove through the narrow, historic streets, and parked in front of the charming yellow house that is Café Beaujolais. We followed the sign pointing us to the Brickery, going around the corner of the building and down a shady garden path that opened up before us into a truly lovely outdoor picnic-style area. There were beautiful and intriguing plants, unique trees, lush succulents, and happy flowers all mixed together in graceful sweeps along the graveled center. Artistic picnic tables were tucked into different corners of the garden, each one filled with cheerful groups. Conversations were flowing in easy camaraderie. One group was passing slices of pizza back and forth – “Can I have some of that Garlicky Kale Pizza?” “Sure! If you give me a slice of that Margherita!”
We stood in line to place our order at the Brickery’s window, drooling as we read the chalked up menu ahead of us. Besides the classic Margherita and the intriguing Garlicky Kale, there several other tantalizing options. One of the standouts was the ultra-savory Sausage pie with house made fennel sausage, sliced red onion, pickled Fresno chiles, oregano, cured olives, mozzarella, and San Marzano Tomatoes. And then their Pesto pizza sounded absolutely fantastic with English peas, arugula, house made chevre, lemon confit, mozzarella, and a spinach pesto. You could tell executive chef Julian Lopez was having fun when he created those guys! When our turn came, we couldn’t decide, so we ended up keeping it simple and ordered the Margherita and an arugula side salad.
We settled down at one of the locally made picnic tables, all of which were cut from a single tree, and hungrily watched the server walk by again and again as each new pizza came out. Finally it was our turn! The bright greens of our arugula salad and the toasted crust of our Margherita at last filled the table before us. We dug in. And wow. Was it good.
The crust was incredible, achieving that perfect balance between tender and crispy. Of course, we expected nothing less since the Brickery’s wood-fired oven has been Café Beaujolais’s sole bread source since 1990. On top of that perfect crust, the San Marzano tomatoes and creamy mozzarella had melted together into puddles of pure bliss. Leaves of basil crowned each slice, adding their own punch of bright flavor to the party going on in our mouths.
In between slices of Margherita, we munched on our arugula salad, which was the nicest counterpoint to the richness of the pizza. Chef Julian sourced the greens locally from Nye Ranch and tossed in some savory Pecorino shavings and the subtlest of all dressings, choosing to let the leaves really be the star of the show and shine forth in all their fresh, peppery glory. They were indeed glorious.
As we savored every single bite of our lunch, the general air of summer cheer in the garden kept breaking in upon our food focused reverie. There was a shout of laughter from a group at the table across the way. Families with young children kept floating in and out of the garden paths as they waited in eager anticipation for their pizza. An older couple shared their table companionably with a younger pair that was forlornly looking for a place to sit. Peter, the owner as well as the chef’s dad, meandered between the different groups, chatting with one and all. It was a happy place, filled with happy people.
As we got some tin foil at the window to wrap up our last couple of slices, Chef Julian popped his head out to ask how the pizza was. “Absolutely delicious!” we responded. We turned away to head back to the inn, and we smiled – we knew we’d be back again soon.
Head over to the Brickery at Café Beaujolais for pizza Friday-Sunday, 11:30-3:00pm. They also make cinnamon rolls most Fridays and plan on adding other baked goods, milkshakes, and possibly other rotating goodies to their menu as summer rolls along.
If you aren’t here on the weekend, you’ll miss the pizza, but you can enjoy a delicious lunch in the main restaurant Wednesday-Sunday 11:30-2:30pm.
Written by Laura Hockett