Naming a pizza after the rainy day your dog almost died from wild mushroom poisoning isn’t just a sign of a unique perspective on the restaurant business. For Janet Abrahamson, whose pug Mick Jagger recovered from the horrific incident, it is also a sign of how much heart she puts into the November Rain pizza and every dish that is served in her San Anselmo restaurant, Creekside Pizza & Taproom.
The chef and co-owner, along with co-founder Pat Townsley, insists on using trumpet (along with shiitake and white) mushrooms sourced from Sebastopol and mozzarella with a perfect pull and no sugar in her sauce. The same personal attention she gives to her pets and family carries over to her work – there will be no shortcuts here. Everything is made from scratch, every day.
Pizza is the centerpiece of the Creekside experience. Abrahamson, who was United Markets’ culinary director for 21 years, understands Marin eaters. Her pizza dough was launched from a mother dough (or starter) that came into being in August of 2016, more than a year before Creekside opened. The mother, plus a pinch of malt, adds flavor to the “offspring” doughs. Natural fermentation and a 24-hour rest before baking take care of the rest, yielding an only-in-Marin yeasty flavor to each pizza.
Named for the certain lie of her golf ball at the now-defunct course, the Geronimo pizza is Abrahamson’s must-order, perhaps because it is finished with a hand-tied burrata. Perched atop a bed of fresh greens – like a golf ball in the rough – the fresh cheese oozes gooey deliciousness at first bite.
Creekside’s all vegan pizza crusts (a gluten-free option is available), cooked at 650 F in Marsal ovens, are left a bit chewy in the center with a crisp exterior. Townsley calls it “New York-Sicilian hybrid” style, while Abrahamson leans into “Italian-Californian.” But who needs labels? Take the Viva Las Veggies pizza. Topped with just the right amount of lemon and garlic, the pie’s amped-up flavor – enhanced by pepperoncini and sun-dried tomatoes amidst the spinach and zucchini ribbons – surprises in every bite, makes for an exciting addition to the Marin pizza scene. Call it what you like – all you need to know is that it tastes great. You also can’t go wrong with a Creekside Toss salad on the side, but the Citrus Shrimp Salad hits the spot on a warm day.
Beer fans rejoice! With 40 (tap) handles and 31 craft beers from 28 California breweries, the pulls are impressive. Creekside features three of Absolution Brewing Company’s beers on tap – Cardinal Sin, an Irish-style red ale; Floc’ing Great, a New England-style hazy IPA; and First Responder 405 IPA, which just won the Gold Medal for Best West-Coast IPA in California at the 2021 San Diego International Beer Festival. Townsley has also opened his taps to neighbors, like Fieldwork, Headlands, Pond Farm and other breweries that remain true to the craft. The on-tap portfolio gets even more diverse when you consider that hard and soft kombucha, Lost Coast root beer and Ace hard cider are also available. A growler program is designed for getting your beer to go, perhaps to enjoy in adjacent Creekside Park. Townsley has also personally curated a “California-only” wine program, with varietals from Textbook, Acre and Long Meadow and fine wines from Skywalker Vineyards, Gogi and Kosta-Browne.)
Not only is Townsley deeply committed to serving great food, beer and wine, he’s committed to the San Anselmo community. The driving force behind San Anselmo Eats, he helped keep the local restaurant community afloat, guiding more than 12,000 diners to open restaurants every day in the pandemic’s first year and raising over $80,000 in Covid-19 relief funds with the San Anselmo Chamber of Commerce for local small businesses. His restaurant is an expression of his roots in Marin – there is conviviality at every table, a personal level of service from his staff, many of whom have been there since day one, and a hyper-vigilant eye on the littlest details. Love for a business goes a long way, but Townsley’s devotion to the San Anselmo community makes Creekside Pizza & Taproom a comfortable place to celebrate life. Order a bottle of Skywalker Vineyards Sommita Estate Pinot Noir and toast the day, the night or anything else. These days, a little cheer goes a very long way.
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