What we talk about when we talk about bread
Village Bakery814 Second St.
Davis, CA 95616
Even if you’ve never been to Village Bakery in Davis, it’s still more than likely you’ve eaten bread from there. Or if not one of its cookies sold at the Davis Farmers Market, then perhaps one of the buns at The Hotdogger, or maybe the bread at many area restaurants.
But, while enjoying the bakery on the periphery is fine, a proper visit is a must.
Aziz Fattahi, a mostly self-taught baker, opened Village Bakery in 1997 after baking bread in his home for years. His bread, pizza, and baked goods were so well-received, he quickly became one of the most respected bakers in Northern California with Village Bakery turning into a destination eatery.
First of all, let’s talk bread.
Village’s seed loaf is slathered with sesame, poppy, and sunflower seeds inside and out, and it has a devout following. Earthy and nuttier than a Burning Man festival, it’s best taken home to be toasted and then slathered with butter and jam. A rosemary focaccia is soft as a pillow and greedily soaks up any oil and balsamic you put in front of it.
But if there is one loaf that sets Village Bakery apart from every other bakery in the region, it’s the garlic-and-Parmesan bread. An utter umami bomb of halfway-caramelized garlic—sweet but retaining a slight sulfury bite. The pockets of Parm are blessings from the bread gods, and the snappy cracker of cheese on the crust will make a devoted acolyte of anyone.
Pizzas are available for lunch and dinner. You can order ahead for a whole pizza, though some pizzas are also available by the generous slice. The pepperoni doesn’t skimp and is served up with a pool of spicy oil that only a handful of napkins can sop up (but why would you?!). The vegetarian pizza comes topped with zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, tangles of caramelized onions and chunks of briney feta cheese. Even the most ardent carnivore will swoon at this.
The pizza dough is bready, to be sure: If you’re a fan of wafer-thin crusts or soggy deep-dish, this might not be your thing. However, a pleasant char and decades of practice make this one of the most flavorful doughs in Northern California.
A brief but eclectic selection of pastries is also available. Skyscrapers of tiramisu topped with enough whipped cream to give a racehorse a stroke should not be missed. Danishes crafted of laminated dough and lacquered with syrup are so stunning to look at it’s nearly a crime to eat them. (Nearly.)
The sticky buns should not be missed—tight weaves of yeasty dough hiding fissures of cinnamon and topped with toasted pecans and a sparkling, snappy crunch of sugar on top.
Be sure to pop in for the scone of the day. On a recent jaunt, it was a triple-berry-white-chocolate scone that yearned for a cup of black coffee. You would be wise to indulge it.
Village Bakery isn’t a place to gather up your retinue. Tables are small and seat two each, and while there is a bit of seating outside, it’s probably best to get your order to go and find a place in downtown Davis to enjoy. This is, however, definitely the spot to hit up whenever you happen to be in town. Get in early, and then enjoy the quaint university town, croissant in hand.