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Victor's Pizzeria on Polk (SF)

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  • Melanie Wong Jan 11, 2005 03:40 AM

Sunday I grabbed a quick slice here for lunch before heading out of town. While it's not far from me, this was my first try out, though I've walked past many, many times.

The crust is quite thin, not as yeasty in flavor as Za's, but I liked the texture more. Singed and crisp on the bottom, then chewy and softer but not doughy as you bite through it. The edges were worth eating. Nice zesty sauce, unsweetened, with lots of dried oregano. Well-modulated amount of cheese, not too much. At $2.50, plus 50¢ for the pepperoni (6 slices), the serving size seems a little small compared to Arinell, but here you get to sit down in reltive comfort with table service. The dining area looks like it hasn't been touched since the '50s --- formica, vinyl, linoleum, and an overhead arbor with plastic grape clusters and vines. Service was congenial, water was brought to me with extra napkins, and my server checked back to see if I wanted anything else.

Next time I'll ask for my slice to be crisper on the bottom. What do'hounds think about this place and what else do you recommend?

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. Gosh, I was a regular there in the early 70's. Do they still toss the pizza in the front window? I loved Victors' pizza, and I think I still had my New York pizza-memory working in those days.

    It was hard to chose between Victor's, Kent's Chicken Shack and the fish and chips place run by Koreans (forgot the name) for take-home food in that area. The only Chinese place nearby, though, was a place called "Ernie's" where I once ordered a sweet-and-sour pork dish and watched the cook open a can of fruit cocktail and dump it in the sauce.

    1. For me, Victor's is the perfect "fast food". Every once in a while, we will call down to order slices, double park to pick them up, and then go along our merry way (often on our way out of town for the day or something).

      Something about it speaks to picking up a slice, though I never really order a whole pizza from them ...

      For me it's all about the cheese slice. It's just a good, honest piece of pizza - thin enough, without any frills.

      1. For the most part, I think Victor's is one of the better places in the larger area to pick up a slice...for all the reasons you mentioned. However, they have been inconsistent in the few years I've been going there. The last time I went (months ago), I got a good pepperoni slice and a horrible of cheese slice. I'm not sure why the two were so disparate, but the cheese slice was so clunky, it tasted no better than carnival pizza.

        1. One of my serious favorites, working nights in the 70s and 80s. A goombah place. Happy to know Victor's is still in action.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Shep

            I lived around the corner when I moved to the city in the late 80s, and Victor's was one of the first places I ate. Dark in the back, but friendly and within my non-existent budget.

            1. re: Shep

              Yep, it does have that gumbah feeling. I think it stays open to 11:30pm or so on weeknights and later on Friday and Saturday.

              Happy to know that YOU are still in action, Shep. (g)

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                The word "pizza" usually draws me out from under my rock...

            2. I've always like Victor's a lot when I've been in the neighborhood for a movie at the Lumiere.

              I have found that I like taking hte time to order a whole pizza, since they largely just add toppings to a cheese slice and warm it up when you order a slice - the pepperoni doesn't come out as nice and crispy as when a whole pie is done from scratch.

              I like their thin crust, and the sauce is nicely balanced.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Celeste

                I'm pretty stunned at the number of replies and positive feelings for this place. Guess it's longevity was earned!

                Some might consider the sauce over-herbed, but I think it would be great for a plain cheese slice as Jen suggested, or a whole cheese pie to follow your lead.

                P.S. Hope I'm talking to the ORIGINAL Celeste!

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Speaking of longevity, I used to eat at Victor's in the fifties, when I lived in Polk Gulch. The owner was the original Victor. That neighborhood boasted Blum's, Swan OD, Sonoma Market and the Smokehouse...there was also a place that sold nothing but homemade pot pies to go, across from Victor's. Down the street was the infamous Joy Meat Market...used to get filet mignon of dairy cow. Not bad, really, and very cheap. The chickens, however, tasted of bleach...wonder why?

                  1. re: Jim H.

                    It's my understanding that Giorgio's on Clement was started by Victor's son. Maybe someone who's had both pies could compare them?

                    And, Jim, I wanted to email you the article below about Zep's brother, but I don't have an address for you. I remember that you were a friend of the family.

                    Link: http://www.newsreview.com/issues/sact...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Thanks for a great article. Asian week also had a good tribute to VW that adds still more dimensions to his amazing creative life. I didn't really know him personally, though I sometimes shared a table with him and some of the City Lights gang at Vesuvio's, and remember him well from his KQED Newsroom days and from the Wayne Wang Films.

                      Lest your free association confuse the uninitiated, I'll point out that he's not the Victor of Victor's Pizza!

                      Link: http://www.asianweek.com/2001_10_05/a...

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        Yes, thanks, I'd already hit the "send" when I realized there might be some confusion!

                        The article was sent to me by Bryan Harrell. To bring this back to chow, here's a link to Jim H's post on SK Wong who was Victor Wong's dad.

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        I had no idea of the Victor's/Giorgio's connection!! I go to Giorgio's quite a bit.

                        Victor's crust is thinner as I recall. Both are decent pies.

                        1. re: Celeste

                          Giorgio's is another spot that seems to evoke fond memories. Does it have plastic grape vines too?

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Yup!! Fake vines, bad chianti. It's a real "family" feeling place. I go there quite a bit... not because the pizza is the best in the city, but for a good feeling family pizzeria when it's cold outside or I'm tired. The pizza is not bad at all, mind you, just not the "best".

                            1. re: Celeste

                              Giorgio's is a lot of fun. They used to have the plastic grapes and all at O Sole Mio on Chestnut (until about 1992). There is a distinctive pizzeria smell to all of these places that must be among my earliest sensory experiences.

                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                          Thanks, Melanie. I saw very little of Victor since he lived outside SF most of the time. He was indeed a character. When I read of his death, I meant to call Zep to express condolences, but like many other things these days, I forgot. He was not at S.K.s funeral several years ago,(in fact, I think he was away filming the "Last Emperor")but his son was a pallbearer with me. He will be missed.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            thanks for the Link; it's a long walk down memory lane.

                          2. re: Jim H.

                            Was the place across the street Kent's Chicken Shack? I recall it as having chicken pot pies, but other chicken dishes as well in the early 70's.

                          3. re: Melanie Wong

                            Yes, this is the ORIGINAL Celeste. ;-)

                        3. Hey Melanie!
                          Had almost given up on Za's where I had some pretty greasy limp crusted pizza a few times last year. Tried it last week (even went back to make sure it was not a fluke), turns out they have perfected a new faster method of proofing their crust with superlative results!! REALLY superb! If they would just master some of the Cheeseboard's amazing toppings, we'd be in business on this side of the bay (and avoid those cravings-mad dashes to Berkeley). But in the meantime, their cheese slice (which by the way is now up to over $3!! so much for improvements!) can't be beat!