Star of the Summer

New Wood-Fired Pizza at Stellina Pronto! Debuts


Ever since husband-and-wife team Christian Caiazzo and Katrina Fried opened Stellina Pronto! three years ago, customers were patiently eying the blue mosaic pizza oven behind the counter with the sign above it stating, “Pizza—Coming Soon.’

The cafe has since become a fixture in Petaluma, offering Linea espresso roasted in San Francisco and an ever-changing menu of frittatas, soups, and salads. Mostly, they have become known for the dozens of house-made pastries, including a Pistachio Chocolate Croissant with Valrhona chocolate and pistachio frangipane, three kinds of Boston cream puffs, and various other sweets and savories.

However, the journey to introducing their unique wood-fired pizzas has been a saga of patience and perseverance, partially due to permitting complications. But some things are worth waiting for, and now, just in time for summer, the new pizza oven is fired up.

“It was a little impetuous,” Caiazzo says of spontaneously buying the pizza oven right before they opened three years ago, “but it was a rare opportunity to have such a beautiful oven made by Stefano Ferrara of Naples, one of the best makers in the world of these kinds of ovens.”

All Fired Up

Caiazzo is why you might hear the Clash or the Violent Femmes playing in the cafe on a weekend instead of a traditional playlist. And he’s the type to dive right in and figure things out with focus. “I basically had a vision that told me to be a chef—it just hit me one day on the way home from work, like this is what you need to do,” Caiazzo says.

His culinary journey began early. At 15, while working as a busboy at his local country club in Connecticut, the chef quit, leaving Caiazzo to take over making dishes like chicken cordon bleu and veal Francaise. His food career subsequently took him through various restaurants in Boston, New York, Europe, and San Francisco, where he honed his skills at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio, renowned for its from-scratch ethos.

“They were doing all their butchery, all their fish, making bread, making    pastry, making everything from scratch, “ he reminisces. “I thought, ‘This is exactly where I should be to learn as much as I could.’” This philosophy carried over to Caiazzo’s Point Reyes restaurant, Osteria Stellina, among the first   wave of Bay Area restaurants utilizing the agricultural bounty of Marin and Sonoma Counties.

“I started getting to a point where instead of wanting to be the ‘Best Chef in a Big City,’ I became a little more political with food; I wanted to cook local food that was interesting to me, so I really started to go to farmers’ markets and cultivated relationships with farmers.”

The pizza at Stellina Pronto! is a reflection of these influences. A hybrid of Italian, Californian, and New York styles, the Neapolitan-inspired pizza incorporates contributions from Caiazzo’s family background, his time with Wolfgang Puck, and the local California landscape. For instance, the “New Haven” is based on the famous clam pizzas of New Haven, while the “Wolfgang” pays homage to Puck’s smoked salmon pizza. Other inventive offerings include a potato pizza with local nettles, named for their son Gianni, and a seafood pizza featuring shrimp and goat cheese.

Local Ingredients Shine

Stellina already sources from the area, including using farmers’ market veggies, Straus milk, and flour from Central Milling in Petaluma. And now Caiazzo and Fried are excited about their new farm collaboration with Jessica Baron, who is growing fresh food on her Petaluma farm—including herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, and Calabrian peppers—for all their restaurants, which include the newly opened Stellina Alimentari, an Italian market, deli, and bottle shop just three blocks away from Stellina Pronto! on Petaluma Boulevard, and Toby’s Coffee Bar in Point Reyes Station.

Fried describes these kinds of relationships as central to their identity at Stellina. Fried, a former New York book publisher, editor, and author of the cookbook The Little Big Book of Comfort Food, emphasizes the importance of letting local ingredients shine.

“If you are using really beautiful local seasonal ingredients, let them be the star of the food,” she says. “Christian understands that, and he understands how to elevate what is already there in the food to make something delicious.”

As customers will attest, Stellina Pronto! also offers a haven for talented local pastry chefs to showcase their skills. Their team includes current executive pastry chef Bradley Bowen and talented pastry chefs like Alison Cavallaro and Shannon Stapel, who bring their expertise from renowned establishments like Nick’s Cove in Marshall, Route One in Tomales, and Press in Napa. Sous chef Cassidy Trejo is another rising star, contributing to the environment where young talents can thrive and grow.

“What is special to me about all our restaurants,” says Fried, “is how connected they are to their community and their moment; the relationship between the producers, the customers, and the place is so intimate and part of our identity.”

Stellina Pronto! is more than just a bakery and coffee bar, it’s a community hub where locals and tourists mingle over exceptional food and drink. The service is quick, but the atmosphere encourages lingering and conversation. And now, with the new pizza oven, this beloved bakery and coffee bar has added another delicious chapter to its story, drawing food lovers from near and far. | 707-789-9556

Stellina Pronto!

23 Kentucky Street, Petaluma

 Wednesday–Monday, 6:30am–8pm Closed Tuesday

Next Story

Farm Talk - Buzzworthy

Story by Lauren Papalia

Read this Story