3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
There’s a movement going on all around us. I call it the gentrification of fast food. First burgers. Now pizza. Almattone argues with me that it’s “fancification”, not gentrification. Whatever you want to call it, it’s happening. Staple fast food is turning into haute cuisine.
In a recent Rachel Ray Magazine special, Ed Levine and Adam Kuban created a “March Madness” bracket for pizzerias around the US. Pitting East against West, South-Southwest against Mid-west, they identified some of the top pizzerias and dared to compared. As a sports fan who also loves pizza, i found this to be a fantastically fun exercise. One of several Bay Area competitors was Pizzeria Delfina.
Pizzeria Delfina was founded by Craig and Anne Stoll of the extremely popular Delfina Restaurant next door. The winner of the 2008 James Beard award for Best Chef in the West, Craig Stoll was inspired to create Pizzeria Delfina based on the pizzerias of NYC, and Naples. What he has done is brought his expertise and love of quality ingredients to the neighbourhood pizza joint. And the neighbourhood loves it. Between the Bi-rite and Tartine Bakery, this is a veritable stretch of culinary goodness.
The interior is extremely basic and functional. Small, clean, it seats 24, and seats are occupied pretty much at all hours of the day. On this day, takeout was pretty much our only option, as seats indoors and out were all taken.
However, thankfully they are more than accommodating when it comes to satisfying their customers. 10 minutes later, we’re sitting on the sidewalk, gazing adoringly at our margherita. Tomato, fior di latte, and basil.
On first glance, there are a few things worth noting. The really nice ratio of ingredients. The even melting and coverage of the fior di latte. The nice char on the cornicione (end crust), and a little bit of leopard spotting. This was a nice looking pie.
As an interlude, I’d like to take the time to praise pizzablogger. He has managed to do what many others have tried – he has consolidated the terminology among online pizza writers, and provide us with a lexicon of terms that we can use to describe a common experience. His anatomy of a pizza is here for those interested.
Taking a look under the hood, the crust had nice char balance with good flexibility – a nice blend between crisp, and chewy. Not wet like a classic Neapolitan pizza, but definitely more NYC style. Definitely my preference.
Looking at the crumb of the cornicione, there is great hole structure, Light, airy crust, puffy. There was a nice balance of flavour, and texture – crisp yet bready. Fantastically baked pizza.
All told, how did it taste? Excellent. The ingredients were good, and the everything about the pie was well executed. The pie lasted all of 4 minutes flat. The crust had a great combination of chew and bite. Wonderful flavour, with a great balance of creamy richness with bright sauce. This was an excellent pie. With more time, I would like the opportunity to sample the Broccoli Raab pie – i’ve heard it’s wonderful.
So how does it compare? Well, that is the difficult question that the pizza “bracketologists” will try and answer. From my view point, Pizzeria Delfina provides an excellent pie for an excellent price, something that certainly justifies the lineups and the acclaim. In terms of the competition, for those that are interested, they dispatched highly-regarded Oakland pizzeria Pizzaiolo, and lost in the second round to finalist Pizzeria Mozza from LA. From my standpoint, this is probably one competition where just being in the game is victory enough. Pizzeria Delfina is one of the best pizzerias in North America. Enough said.