3611 18th St (and Guerrero)
Pizza/Italian in the Mission
Update 7/2/08 (Kathy): I went here again but I didn't have pizza - they had a braised octopus special that was pretty amazing. The octopus was flown in frozen from Greece and braised for a long time in a lobster broth. Flavor wise it was ok, but the texture... like chicken. Not your typical rubbery octopus!
This restaurant is a personal favorite of mine, not just because of the food but also the location. Situated between two Mission institutions, Dolores Park and Tartine , eating at this restaurant is a great way to capture the San Francisco casual dining experience.* P-Del has some set menu items but for the most part is constantly changing their fare to reflect the seasonal produce.
The pizza served here is thin crust and rustic, similar to the kind you would find in Naples. In typical Neapolitan style, cheese is a topping, NOT a bed for other ingredients to nest in (i.e. Round Table, Papa Johns, etc.). My personal favorite amongst the regulars is the Salsiccia. The toppings include, house made fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions and mozzarella. It combines savory chunks of sausage with sweet bell peppers and a slight crunch of thinly sliced onions. The Margherita doesn't offer anything unique to the palette but if you're dull or boring, the tomato, fior di latte mozzarella, basil and parmigiano combo is right up your alley. If you want to try something a little extra special, I would go for the clam pie which has cherrystones, tomato, oregano, pecorino and hot peppers.
You definitely cannot go wrong with ordering one of the specials of the day. There are usually two and always sell out quickly. A popular Prosciutto one is topped with fresh arugula before serving. A nice spicy bite complements the soft and salty cured meat. You can also try the Amatriciana, which has guanciale (dry-cured pork cheeks), caramelized onions, pecorino and hot peppers. Of course my all-time favorite (but has been met with mixed reviews from others) is the Carbonara. Like the Amatriciana, the Cabonara is also a spin-off of a popular Italian pasta dish. It starts with pancetta and leeks and is topped with two cracked eggs and then baked. When it comes to the table, the whites are firm with the yolk at a perfect runny consistency once cut into.
They have a wide selection of salads that are worth a try if you want a nice side with your pizza. Pizza condiments are served au natural, with dried oregano still on the stem, fresh red pepper flakes and grated parmesan cheese that didn't come from a green can. Feel free to ask for a bowl of sauce on the side. It's great for dipping the breadsticks that await you once seated.
This place can be a bit pricey for larger groups, but for a small group of old friends who just want to catch up, enjoy the sunny weather and maybe grab a cookie at Tartine after a light meal, this is place to be.
*San Francisco casual dining experience-- a place where SF locals congregate to eat. It is essential that the establishment be extremely small, with an actual dining capacity of 20, but with 15 additional people crammed in. The restaurant cannot take reservations, the wait must be excruciatingly long, and there must be no way of knowing how long you will be standing in line for (usually over an hour, but you are hopeful that it will be 45 minutes). Your group will not be seated until you have exhausted all conversation topics and are forced to stand around awkwardly to the point of passing out from starvation. The potential diner must also utter the phrase, "this better be worth it" at some point.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
3611 18th St (and Guerrero)
846 Divis (& Fulton)
Pizza in Nopa/Western Addition/Panhandle
After my coworker had been raving about Little Star for the longest time, I decided to finally give it a try. After briefly skimming through yelp reviews, it seems like a lot of people think it's better than Zachary's. My opinion? It was different, not necessarily better.
For a pizza place it isn't what I expected - really dark (hence, no pictures) and tiny! Not a family place at all. You can get takeout though, which would be a good idea if you're in a rush because the wait is ridiculous. It took me like 20 min to find parking so we got seated almost right away after I arrived (sorry Tan!), but around 8pm the wait was 2 hrs long. Our waiter was really nice, and after waiting another 25-30min, our Little Star pizza (spinach, feta, other stuff) was ready.
I really liked it. It has a lot of flavor (heavy on the garlic, which I like), crunchy cornmeal crust... but lighter on the toppings. Lighter isn't necessarily a bad thing - if anything, it doesn't leave you comatose like Zachary's. However, I like heavy tomatoes, and Zachary's wins hands down in that respect.
So yes, I liked Little Star a lot and would go back if I had a craving for deep dish, and maybe also try their thin crust. Plus, it's in a great neighborhood that's walkable to anything (we went to a bike cafe down divis where we were surrounded by granola hipsters and talked about blogs).