Pissaladière is the traditional pizza of southern France around the Côte d’Azur consisting of a thick doughy crust topped with salted cream, cooked onions, anchovies, and olives. The origin of the word, pissaladière is pissalat – or peis salat – which means “salted fish.”
Indeed, what sets this dish apart from other “pizzas” is the salted fish purée, usually anchovy cream. The saltiness of the fish and olives combined with the sweetness of caramelized onions is a sublime combination. Add a salade chèvre chaud and a bottle of chilled Provence rosé, and you’re set for a meal that will transport you to St. Tropez.
Or, you can visit Mentone, the French-Italian Riviera-inspired casual restaurant owned by David Kinch, also owner and executive chef of Michelin three-star-rated Manresa in Los Gatos, California. Located nearby in Aptos Village, Mentone was inspired by Kinch’s travels through the Liguria Coast stretching from Genoa to Nice. Mentone is the Italian version for the French border town, Mentone. Mentone is open for dinners Wednesday through Sunday.
Upon entering Mentone, one is surrounded by photos of the Côte d’Azur and the celebrities who helped glamorize it; think Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni, and the Rolling Stones in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Kinch is such a Rolling Stones fan that Mentone’s large white pizza oven has the band’s hot lips logo emblazoned on it.
Tarte de Mentone Recipe
In this recipe. Matthew Bowden, Executive Chef at Mentone, explains how to prepare the restaurant’s Tarte de Mentone, starting with the house-made bread dough.
7 grams instant yeast
210 grams water
90 grams extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
420 grams all-purpose flour
9 grams salt
8 white onions thinly sliced
1 garlic clove chopped
1 sprig marjoram
1 sprig thyme
100 grams EVOO
200 grams vermouth
10 grams colatura (Italian fermented fish sauce) or other fish sauce
Salt and white pepper to taste
Anchovies packed in oil
Prep the Tart Dough:
Mix the water, yeast, and olive oil in a small bowl, and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl, then add the water/yeast/EVOO mix and knead by hand until smooth and elastic.
Place in a clean bowl, cover, and let proof for one hour.
After one hour, punch down the dough to deflate slightly. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll into 1/4-inch thin round.
Cut to fit your 12-inch tin, then place the dough in tin, cover, and let proof for another 45 minutes. (Note: if the dough shrinks after you cut it, don’t worry, the second proofing will relax the dough).
While the dough is proofing, prepare the onions.
Add olive oil and thinly sliced onions to a sauté pan on medium heat.
Cook gently until onions are soft and translucent, then add marjoram and thyme.
Push onions to one side of the pan and add the vermouth. Let vermouth reduce slightly for a minute, then stir into the onions. Season with white pepper and fish sauce to taste.
Preheat your oven to 410 degrees.
After the dough has proofed in the pan for 45 minutes, gently press the dough to push up against the edges of the tin.
Layer the onions over the top of the dough, leaving a border around the rim of the pan.
Place the tarte into your heated oven and cook at 410 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
After the tart has cooled slightly, top with whole anchovy fillets (about two per slice) and Niçoise olives.
What to drink?
Alyssa Papierneick, Mentone’s wine director, has assembled a list primarily focused on France and Italy and local producers from nearby Santa Cruz. Her recommendation is a dry rosé like Domaine de Sulauze Pomponette 2020, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Started in 2004 by a husband-wife duo, this winery is 100 percent biodynamic. This rosé is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah and Vermentino (known as Rolle in southern France). This is a refreshing, dry, and mineral-driven wine with delicate peach, wild strawberry, and spice notes.