Best Pies in SoCo
Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Triple Berry Pie from Village Bakery
Where are the best pies in Sonoma County? We find out…
Mom’s Apple Pies: Though the apple blossoms have barely finished blooming in the few remaining orchards along Gravenstein Highway, scent of apples and cinnamon hangs heavy in the sprawling parking lot around Betty Carr’s roadside bakeshop. Even in these early days of spring, long before the late summer bounty of berries and ripe apples, her 25-year-old bakery, Mom’s Apple Pies, does a brisk business in heaping apple, rhubarb, peach, cherry and blueberry pies. Any time is a good time for pie.
This time of year, the apples are Granny Smiths rather than Gravenstein’s — but the rush of digging into the flaky, still-warm, piled-high dessert is just the same. Maybe it’s hard-wired into us, we apple-pie-loving Americans, but like mom and baseball, there’s a soft spot for something so comforting and familiar.
The need for so many parking spots around Betty’s bakeshop are testament to that.
But outside of home kitchens and county fairs, pie isn’t always that easy to find anymore. It’s more refined cousins — tarts, clafoutis, and rich cakes have supplanted the humble slice. Which is kind of sad, but all the more fun to seek out. Because the bastions of pie-eaters are unassuming places where moms, grandmas and enterprising nostalgians bake their fresh creations each day without pomp and circumstance — quietly setting their pies out on the counters to be accidentally, wonderfully discovered.
Just down the road from Mom’s, past the vineyards that have supplanted so many of the old orchards,
, stands as a vivid reminder of what West County used to be. Nestled among the apple trees is the homey gift shop filled with jams and jellies, along with the farm’s pecan crumb-top and double-crust pies — inspired by the recipes of Carmen Kozlowski’s family recipes. Gravenstein pies are available year round, along with blackberry, latticed cherry pies, raspberry peach and blueberry apple pies. They’re among locals’ favorites.
Apple Pie from Mom's Apple Pies
CLOSED A newcomer to the scene is Humble Pie, where the Miriam Lee Donaldson does some very ungranny-like pies each day in her tiny Penngrove cafe. Using all-butter crusts and family recipes, her deep-dish apple-cheddar pie, banana cream with coconut and Ohio lemon (flavors change with the seasons) are lovingly baked each day. You can get a slice after dinner or order a whole pie from the restaurant.
Cheddar Apple Pie
Insiders know that despite the name, Betty’s Fish & Chips is another of Santa Rosa’s best pie shops. Owner Susan Corso makes hundreds of pies each week in the restaurant’s kitchen (which will soon be expanding), most notably her rich, lush lemon chiffon cream pie –– though you may have to wrestle with your tablemates over whether the raspberry peach or apple is better.
(above: Humble Pie’s cheddar apple pie)
Other top local picks for SoCo pie:
– Village Bakery’s triple berry pie, loaded with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries is tart, sweet and as beautiful to look at as it is to eat.
– Dierk’s Parkside Cafe: Apple’s almost always on the menu, made with rich, caramelly fruit and a flaky butter crust to make you weep with happiness.
– Original Superburger: The evening cook makes fresh pies daily, according to her whim. Pairs well with tasty burger.
Where to go:
Kozlowski Farms: 5566 Gravenstein Hwy. 116, Forestville
Humble Pie: 10056 Main St., Penngrove, (707) 664-8779.
Betty’s Fish & Chips: 4046 Sonoma Hwy, Santa Rosa, (707) 539-0899
Original Superburger: 1501 4th St., Santa Rosa, (707) 546-4016
Village Bakery: 1445 Town and Country Dr., Santa Rosa, (707) 527-7654
Mom’s Apple Pie: 4550 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol, (707) 823-8330