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|| News Item: Posted 2002-07-31

The Pizza Guys
By Bob Larson, Contra Costa Times

Photo by The Pizza Guys

Photo by The Pizza Guys

The Pizza Guys
(Editors note: Bob Larson is one of the smartest news photographers in the San Francisco Bay Area who enjoys eating pizza, drinking beer and smoking cigars. Larson had waited around the Contra Costa Times photo department in Walnut Creek, CA for years waiting for the day when Director of Photography Alan Greth would give him an assignment where he could eat pizza, smoke cigars and drink beer. When that day never came Larson took it upon himself to self-assign a story and make it happen for himself. Several months later Larson has a successful food column in the paper every month called the "Pizza Guys". The best part of the whole thing is now DOP Greth really is paying Larson to eat pizza, smoke cigars and drink beer. Try getting YOUR boss to let you do that!)

About six months ago I got the thumbs up to start a column in the Contra Costa Times Food section with my partner Vinny called, "The Pizza Guys". Two guys, one from Chicago and one from New York who go to different pizza places and then write about it. Bob, the deep dish guy and Vinny, thin crust. We are in search of the perfect pizza. It's conversation with an edge. We Talk Pizza. During this conversation we get into what ever is on are mind, beer, cigars, napkins. We don't rate these places, if the pizza is good, we say its good, if it's bad, we say it's bad. If the beer is flat, we go to bottled beer.

If you have a favorite pizza place or something you would like to share with the Pizza Guys, you can e-mail us at We would like to hear from you, good or bad. There's one catch, I need the following information. Name, address, phone and what you like or don't like about the place.

You can also catch the "PIZZA GUYS" on KNBR 680am in San Francisco once a month on the John London, not just sports show.

Bob & Vinny:


Following is a recent installment of "The Pizza Guys" ---

Vicolo Pizzeria 201 Ivy Street (at Franklin) San Francisco, 94102 415-863-2382

Guess who's running late this time, Vinny. I'm sitting in front of his house at 4:30p and he just left work. We're trying to get an early start, because we're going to San Francisco tonight, the city.

Vinny tells me to go inside and drink a beer, so I go in the side door and once again the radio is on. I guess he leaves it on for the dogs. Vinny gets home. grabs a Heineken. pours a couple shots of bourbon. We down the shots and light a couple of cigars for the road.

We're off to Vicolo Pizzeria with cigars in hand, we hit traffic at the bridge, not to worry, Vinny puts in the Blue's Brothers CD. Vinny and Bob hit the center of the Bay Bridge as the Peter Gunn Theme from the Blues Brother CD pours out of the speakers. Our heads are like bobble head dolls to the beat of the music.

We hit Ivy street, its an alley way, very cool, lots of nice old brick houses surround Vicolo pizzeria. Tonight we pay for parking, $10.00. There's lots of theater traffic in the area. Its worth the $10.00.

We open the door and "Bam", the smell of pizza. We walk up to the counter and wait to order. We both look the place over. Not a big place, holds about 45-50 people with small wooden tables and black leather seating that goes the length of the restaurant. The walls are painted a mustard color with zero art work on the walls and high ceilings.

Very tasteful.

Vinny checks out the menu, its all deep dish, cast iron pans, about 15 inches. You have your choice, buy it by the slice for around $3.75 to $4.25 or whole starting at $18.50 to $22.00.

Vinny goes down the list, 1. Quattro Formaggi, four cheese, 2. Vegetable, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and peppers, 3. House made sausage with peppers and onions, 4. Wild mushrooms, porcini, shittake, domestic and a Della Salute, vegetable pizza without cheese. Vinny orders the wild mushroom and I go for the house made sausage. They tell us about 20 minutes for the sausage, so Vinny orders a salad to get us started, Beet, Blue cheese and Walnut, $6.00. We both start with tap beer, Vinny gets a Heineken and I go with an Anchor Steam. They sell by the pint ($3.25) or the pitcher ($12.00).

They have a wide variety of salads, soup of the day, sandwich, lunch only, some chicken and pasta dishes. A small but tasteful wine list, soda and water. They do take out with partially-baked pizzas. We sit down with our beers and beet salad.

Vinny: Nice salad, golden beets, crisp and not over dressed.

Bob: Great salad, never thought I would order a beet salad, but theses look great. Hey, the tap beer is great. Not flat.

Vinny: This is a destination place, word of mouth kind of place. Tucked away in the alley, very clean and it smells great in here.

Bob: We got one of those order cards with a big H on it.

Vinny: it means Hella good, Hella good pizza.

Bob: Laughs

Vinny: They got James Brown going in the kitchen.

Bob: I love the nuts in the salad.

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Photo by Bob Larson / Contra Costa Times

Vinny stands out in front of Vicolo's in San Francisco on Thursday, June 20, 2002 with the rest of his wild mushroom pizza and one slice of sausage.
Vinny: Humming, "I Feel Good" and ignoring Bobby's comment about the great nuts.

Bob: So how would you rate the salad?

Vinny: Very good, I'm a salad snob, I hate over dressed salads.

Vinny: We're breaking our rule about just eating pizza.

Bob: Yeah, but we're hungry and the sausage pizza takes 20-25 minutes.

Vinny: Yeah we got to get something in our stomach besides beers and Basil, Hayden bourbon. And cigars over the bridge.

Bob: What is the cheese in the salad, blue?

Vinny: No, goat cheese, hey the beer is good, not to cold.

Bob: Check out the crowd lots of turtle neck sweaters.

Vinny: San Francisco in June, it's great isn't it?

Bob: Yeah, I freezing my ass off.

Vinny: Nice shorts, how long have you lived here? You should know better.

Bob: Yeah, I feel like the tourist from Pleasant Hill, shorts and a leather jacket, nice combo.

Vinny: laughs

Vinny: Did we inhale that salad or what?

Bob: Thumbs up on the salad.

Vinny: And it wasn't because we were hungry and hammered.

Bob: laughs

Then we hear "THUD"

Vinny: That was quick, wild mushroom pizza just hit the table.

Vinny: What's your name?


Vinny: Could I get a Coke and what does Vicolo mean?

Daniel: Its means, "In the Alley way"

Vinny: Thanks.

Bob: Can I get another Anchor?

Another THUD, it's the sausage.

Bob moves the flakes across the table to make more room.

Vinny: HEY, Hey, Hey don't be moving those flakes.

Bob pulling his first slice of sausage, Vinny looks to Bob for reaction.

Bob: I am very impressed.

Vinny: Gooood.

Bob: That crust is dynamite, that is good, that is very good pizza.

Photo by
Vinny: The mushroom is good, the mushrooms are very fresh, I can taste the corn bread, very tasty.

Bob: Hey Vinny, listen to my fork.

I cut into the pizza and fork goes thunk as it goes through the slice

Vinny: Laughs, aaahhh thunk

Bob: I like the crispy crust, good cornbread crust.

Vinny: The crust is very crispy, not greasy. I can't wait to dive into a piece of sausage.

Bob: You put this place in your address book.

Vinny: Yeah.

Bob: This is it, baby, great *&^%$# pizza.

Vinny: They have chopped tomatoes, onions and green pepper along with the sausage, not a lot of sauce and it looks like good cheese...and no edge, the pizza goes right to the end.

Vinny: I'm going in for a slice of sausage. I don't mind eating my first couple of bites with a fork.

He takes his first bite.

Vinny: Oh my god, that is good pizza, WOW, sausage, onions, green pepper, WOW, that is good pizza, good call, Bob.

Bob & Vinny high five each other.

Vinny: If you live in Contra Costa County, drive to Vicolo, in the city by the bay, treat yourself to something special, that you aren't getting in the land of Lexus.

Bob: I eat the crust and its like being back home, this is it.

Vinny: It's not wet, I can't say enough about the crust, it's good pizza, WOW.

Vinny: What do you think about the rags?

Bob: Skimpy ass rags, who cares, there's nothing dripping off the pizza.

Bob: I take my first bite of mushroom, fresh mushrooms, the crust is it, I like the sausage better.

Vinny: I agree. The saying goes, I like it if its good. I don't care, New York, Chicago.

Bob: The mushroom is good, but the sausage is hands down, the best.

Vinny: I feel a pizza coma coming on, but I'm going in for another piece of sausage, because its good, WOW.

Vinny: Were deep into the sausage.

Bob: I don't think we have any problems tonight.

Vinny: Maybe the plates, there to small, good for coffee.

Bob: I can't eat anymore, I'm starting to look at every bite.

Vinny: Wow, want to rub my food baby?

Bob: Taps Vinny's stomach, thud, thud.

Vinny: We have inverted navel, WOW!

(Bob Larson is a staff photographer with the Contra Costa Times. He will be making a presentation at the annual Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau on covering prep sports --- however, we're sure he'd be glad to answer any questions regarding pizza and beer during his session.)

Related Email Addresses: 
Bob & Vinny:

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