Feature / San Francisco Pizzeria Tour
Pizza Today does a whirl wind tour of some of San Francisco's most popular independent pizzerias
Jeremy White, Editor in Chief
Photo's by Rick Daugherty

Pizzeria Delfina

Despite its simplicity, “The Cherry Pie” was one of the most vibrant and flavorful pizzas we’ve tasted in a long time. The crew at Delfina marinates the cherry tomatoes and then applies them liberally. The tomatoes are sweet yet bold, and their abundance manages to bring forward the freshness of the tomato sauce that serves as the all-important base. A dusting of ricotta provides a nice counter balance to all the red and yellow goodness. This pizza can be made in any oven and is sure to be a hit with your customers — give it a try today.
That particular creation aside, Pizzeria Delfina scored a big thumbs up from us. The menu was artisan-based and accessible at once. We loved the creamy burrata with olive oil as a starter. Free grissini sticks at every table was a nice touch as well. Lastly, look at the crust in the photo above. It was perhaps the best thing about the entire visit to Delfina. Crunchy on the outside, chewy and yeasty on the inside ... it was exactly what an American pizza crust should be. No wonder Pizzeria Delfina serves as inspiration to San Francisco’s educated and demanding foodies and restaurant owners!

Zero Zero

This pizzeria draws its name from the type of Italian flour used to make its dough. And, just like Pizzeria Delfina, the finished crust at Zero Zero was absolutely divine. Two different formulations; two different proofing processes; two different oven types ... but the two very different crusts were both fantastic in their own right. No right or wrong here — just do the best with the equipment you’ve got. That’s the lesson learned from operators by comparing and contrasting the pizza at Zero Zero and Pizzeria Delfina.
Enough of the comparisons, though. At Zero Zero, this meaty pizza was one of the best we’ve ever tasted. The spicy soppressata and artisan sausage combined for a meat lover’s paradise ... And the fresh mozzarella was some of the best we’ve ever tasted!

Pauline’s Pizza
Open for dinner only, this joint in the Mission District has attracted quite a following across the city thanks to its emphasis on farm-to-table, fresh product. In fact, Pauline’s has a pair of gardens that provides an ample supply of greens, tomatoes, eggplant, veggies and fruits during the summer and fall.

Golden Boy Pizza

No frills here. Just like many of New York’s most frequented pizza establishments, at Golden Boy you walk in, order your slice, and walk out. It’s convenient, it’s fast, it’s often just what the doctor ordered when you’re hungry and crave pizza.
But there’s a twist. This is no NY-style pizza joint. At Golden Boy, the pizza is essentially a thick focaccia cut into rectangles and served with piles of toppings. Nearly every cabbie we spoke to preferred the joint over any of the city’s high-end, artisan places. We’re not suggesting anyone change their style, but a focaccia crust might make for a nice seasonal specialty from time to time.

Flour + Water
Wood-fired pizza is what drew us in, and it lived up to its billing. But it wasn’t long before we realized that pasta is the real star of the show here. With up to eight house-made pastas on the menu daily, we can’t help but ask our readers this question: have you tried your hand at making your own pasta? It may be labor intensive, but, boy, is it worth it! Why not start with a seasonal ravioli and see if it wins customers over?

Arizmendi Bakery
One of the best pizzas we tasted in San Francisco didn’t come from a “real pizzeria”, but from a full-fledged bakery that cranks out pizza on a daily basis to the delight of its customers in the Mission District. Since “white pizzas” continue to gain in popularity, we encourage you to rotate a handful of them in when you design your next menu. And the simple one we had at Arizmendi might as well be your starting point: brush the crust with olive oil and garlic and top with cheese, spinach, fresh mushrooms and gorgonzola for added flavor. It was fantastic and we’re sure your customers will

Freshly baked Italian bread, high-end espresso, pasta and pizza ... exactly what a full-service pizzeria with an expanded menu should be offering its guests. But, have you considered your dessert menu lately? If not, take a page from Pazzia’s playbook. Because as good as the pizza was, if we were to go back on our own time we’d be sneaking in to Pazzia after dinner for its tiramisu. Lesson: create a memorable dessert menu and see the benefits.

Little Star Pizza
Stuffed pizzas aren’t just for Chicagoans. They seem to find a home anywhere, and San Francisco is no different. But we preferred the thin crust because of the vibrance of the toppings: the white pie topped with roasted zucchini, fresh tomatoes and feta was a very satisfying, meat-free choice. If you’re looking to expand your vegetarian friendly options, this one is a winner for late fall.

Una Pizza Napoletana
Embracing tradition is at the heart of the Neapolitan craze, and that’s a beautiful thing. Una Pizza Napoletana does it as well as anyone. What we saw here that could resonate with any pizzeria in America is this: simplicity breeds consistency. Our favorite was the time-honored marinara. We didn’t even miss the cheese. But the smoked mozzarella, partnered with fresh cherry tomatoes, arugula and sea-salt made us glad we didn’t skip the cheese on our second pie.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Our very own Tony Gemignani has a NY Slice House (pictured at left) in San Francisco right next to his flagship Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. We love them both, but Tony’s Pizza Napoletana just might be the best pizzeria in the entire country. Whether customers want a Neapolitan pie or a New Jersey-style pizza, Tony’s serves a variety of styles that are all baked in the oven that’s most appropriate for said style. Detroit-style, Sicilian-style ... You name it, Tony’s probably has it. The ultimate takeaway for pizzeria owners here: regardless of what style you offer, customers will respect your craft and frequent you as long as you focus on quality above all else. It’s not just Tony’s way and should not just be your way ... As far as we’re concerned, it’s the only way!

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