Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: The Swiss Hotel, Sonoma CA

The Swiss Hotel is a bar and restaurant on the lovely town square of Sonoma, California. It's hard to go wrong with any dining spot in this upscale version of a Norman Rockwell town, but the Swiss Hotel came highly recommended by others who had visited Sonoma. The property boasts "a bar that is virtually unchanged through four generations (since 1909), and walls covered with a photographic history of the town."
Wood-fired pizza at Swiss Hotel

American ducks with Russian hats like Italian food at Swiss Hotel (apparently)
The menu is centered around Italian fare (just what you’d expect at a “Swiss” restaurant in California wine country). We made a lunch visit, and there were several nice choices on the menu, many focusing on pasta. But because it was a business lunch, I opted to avoid red spots on my white shirt and chose the personal pizza from their wood-fired oven. Mine was topped with pepperoni and roasted garlic cloves, and was dusted post-bake with fresh basil and aged Italian cheese.
Swiss Hotel, on the Square
Interior dining room

The crust was medium thickness. It was not a typical pizza crust, but more akin to excellent Italian bread both in its texture and flavor. It was reasonably sturdy and cooked nicely, with an excellent char underneath. None of the toppings were standouts, but the flavors harmonized and gave me the sense that Northern Californians are a little like Europeans in regard to food; even in a “Swiss” hotel, the pizza is going to be crafted with care and a with a knowledge of fresh, high quality ingredients.
Pepperoni and garlic personal pie
Superb char below

This pie did not rise to the lofty heights of the destination pizza I enjoyed just one day earlier at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco (review HERE), but it was well-crafted and entirely satisfying; “worth the calories.” The crust is an 8, the tomato chunks earn a 9, the cheese, garlic, and pepperoni each earn a 7, and the ambiance and service a 9. 
Lovely vintage Karmann Ghia spotted in Sonoma
Sonoma Town Square (from

Overall, the pizza comes in at an 8. Not quite destination pizza, but damn good pizza in a destination town. Sonoma is a charming place, especially for wine drinkers, and I expect to return. In addition to the nearby “The Girl and the Fig” restaurant, The Swiss Hotel is a dining spot worthy of repeat visits. 

Swiss Hotel & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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