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Cox: Diavola spices up Geyserville

  • House Cured Salami and Cheese at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, in Geyserville, included several different sliced salamis and accompaniments, such as bitingly hot peppers pounded into a spreadable paste. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat)

Geyserville is one of the sleepiest little towns in Sonoma County — except at 21021 Geyserville Ave., where on Fridays and weekends, you might find people standing three deep or more, waiting to be seated in Diavola.

The word “diavola” is Italian for she-devil. Whatever chef and owner Dino Bugica (pronounced BOOJ-ik-uh) had in mind when naming the place, the most devilish aspects of this popular restaurant are the wood-burning pizza oven and Bugica's fondness for mouth-searing spiciness. Each table is set with a bottle of spicy chili oil and a glass full of shoelace-sized breadsticks made by hand every morning.

Not everything is spicy, of course. But when he decides to use heat, he doesn't hold back. His approach to Italian cooking, in fact, is muscular and masculine. For example, the regular menu lists a dozen different pizzas. The Salsiccia Pizza ($16.75, 2-1/2 stars) is a big pie with big flavor and big bubbles of air in the dough, burnt spots everywhere, thin crust in the middle but thick around the edges, lumps of house-made Italian sausage, pecorino and stringy mozzarella, and long strips of red onions.

Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria

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The specials on a recent night included the Dictator Pizza, costing $18. The crust is loaded up with garlic, serrano chilies, kimchi, and shichimi — a spicy Japanese condiment consisting mostly of powdered hot chilies — along with marinated rib-eye steak, scallions and mozzarella. You can work up a sweat just thinking about it.

Diavola is not just a pizzeria. The chef makes his own salumi. An appetizer of House-Cured Salami and Cheese ($18, 4 stars) was a revelation. The appetizer is served on an inch-thick slice of tree trunk and included a portion of pork and bitingly hot peppers pounded into a spreadable paste — a delightful delicacy that was anything but delicate and required a sip of wine to cool down the mouth.

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