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Napa Family Runs "Traditional Pizza Place" in St. Helena

Celebrating National Pizza Month with Kathryn Kenney of That Pizza Place in St. Helena, where you can get a slice or a pie and a soda or a water, but never salad or buffalo wings: "We're a traditional pizza place," she says.

If you want pizza in St. Helena, the Kenney family of Napa will serve you any amount from a single slice to as many whole pies as you need, along with sodas or bottled water from the cold case.

But if you want salad, or any other side dish, you'll have to make another stop. (Fortunately, Sunshine Foods is practically next door.)

"We're a traditional pizza place," says Kathryn Kenney of the restaurant she and her husband Tommy have straightforwardly named That Pizza Place. "We don't offer salads. We don't offer buffalo wings."

Pizza has been the Kenney family's specialty for the past eight years, ever since they purchased the former California Pizza on Jefferson Street from its former owner, along with his recipes for dough and sauce.

Expanding to St. Helena made sense at first, but as the couple's son and daughter grew, the Kenneys realized "we didn't have a family life," she said.

Two years ago they made the decision to sell the Napa shop to an employee's family and concentrate on business in St. Helena, where a smaller population is balanced by the fact that there are fewer pizza restaurants, she said.

A Napa native and Vintage High School graduate whose brother Rick Molinari runs the Patch Readers' Choice Award-winning Molinari Caffé on Main Street in Napa, Kenney has food and cooking in her DNA.

"Being Italian, it's all about food," said Kenney, who grew up helping her parents in their Napa deli.

But it was Kenney's Irish-German husband who "always wanted a pizza parlor," she said.

"He's from New York," said Kenney, who was quick to add that That Pizza Place doesn't serve "New York-style" pizza.

"You have to have New York water to make New York-style pizza," she explained. "You can ship the water out, or you can have someone back there ship the dough."

That Pizza Place uses a dough recipe developed in Napa, Kenney said.

Local pizza-eaters have embraced the restaurant's fare, with wineries placing large orders during harvest time and school clubs ordering up for meetings and events, she said.

October is National Pizza Month — as well as Breast Cancer Awareness and Bullying Prevention Month — and Halloween is one of the biggest nights of the pizza year, according to Kenney.

But month in and month out, the owner-operators of That Pizza Place steer clear of fancy promotions to concentrate on what they do best: Make pies.

"We're just going to keep doing what we're doing," Kenney said.

Vital Stats: That Pizza Place, 1149 Main St., St. Helena: (707) 968-9671. Open 10:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily. On Facebook: That Pizza Place in St. Helena, Ca.

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kathryn kenney October 22, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Thanks Louisa for the great article! We love what we do and hopefully it shows in what we make! I forgot to mention that we also offer take n bake pizzas as well. In large and extra large sizes! See you again soon for a few more slices! Oh yeah... go Giants!!
Suzanna October 22, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Check out Ca' Momi Enoteca located inside of Oxbow Public Market: www.camomienoteca.com
Janeen DiRienzo October 23, 2012 at 02:12 AM
You make the best pizza in St. Helena!
Louisa Hufstader October 23, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Old world pizza is a world to itself, but at That Pizza Place I had a moment a little like the one in "Ratatouille" in which creepy food critic Anton Ego sees the dish of his childhood and becomes a better person, when Kathryn served me a couple of slices that pulled me straight back to my teens in the Boston area.

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