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Best Pizza in Bay Area

Ok folks, let the debate begin. I've moved here from the DC area recently and have been continuing a year long Neapolitan style/thin pizza comparison. I'm looking for the best in the Bay.

So far I've been to these places in a month or so (based on my impressions of their pizza ONLY and not any other craving-inducing food they might serve):
>Delfina's Pizzeria (twice): Best all around pizza to me. I've had their broc. rabe, and a mushroom special. The best combination to me of toppings flavors, crust flavors, and structural integrity.
>Pizzaiolo (twice). Extremely close w/Delfina. Right now I'm only placing them second because the two pizza's I've had have both been slightly floppier than I prefer. Have had their manila clam/tomato/aioli, and eggplant/ricotta salata/mint/tomato/onion. Flavors are great and absolutely love everything about this place though.
[...the rest I'm indifferent on to rank between, so alphabetically:]
>A16 (twice): Great flavors but structurally and execution-wise the pizzas don't hold up. First time my margherita was burnt. Second time my mushroom pizza was overly topped, wet, and soggy. Would go back for the other food as it's simply delicious, but would be scared to order a pizza again...
>Cheeseboard in Berkeley: have only tried it once and a few slices. Toppings were very interesting and tasty, but this just isn't the kind of crust I like. I found it a bit on the cornbread/crumbly side rather than a doughy chew. Maybe it was an off day?
>Oliveto Cafe: Too thin for me.

Am planning to go Pauline's next, and revisiting Delfina and Pizzaiolo regularly. Pizetta 211 is on the list too, and have been recommended Little Star (even though not for their thin crust). I've read about Gialina's and might try it sometime too. Any others? I realize Chez Panisse supposedly has great pizza, but that's where the Pizzaiolo chef comes from, and let's be honest here: if I get a reservation at Chez Panisse, I'm not going to have enough stomach real estate to order a pizza on top of the rest.

For those who have been around the states, my pizza "resume" includes 2 Amy's (DC), Pizzeria Paradiso (DC), Bebo Trattoria (VA), Rustico (VA), Osteria (Philly PA), Pizzeria Bianco (AZ)....my favorite out of all those is 2 Amy's with a well done crust.

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  1. I have just returned to the area after a long absence and have yet to try all the fantastic food experiences San Francisco has to offer. Pizza would be at the top of my short list if I had to choose 3 things... so thank you for your recommendations. Try Pizzeria Picco on Magnolia in Larkspur I think it is fab.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Stacey C

      I will if I ever get out there, I don't have a car!

    2. Sorry, but this debate has been ongoing and continuing for several years now! If you do "Search this board" searches for the various relevant pizza joints, you will find numerous posts and discussion.

      If you do like deep dish pizza, I can highly recommend Little Star on Divisadero in SF. The last couple of pizzas I have had at Giorgio's, an old-school pizzeria on Clement St. (also SF), have been rather flavorless.

      Hopefully, Mr. R. Lauriston, a leading authority on Bay Area pizza, will see this thread and post links to prior threads.

      3 Replies
        1. re: DavidT

          It wont be definitive until Robert makes the trek out to Larkspur.

          1. re: DavidT

            this is why i love this site, for great links off like that one. yes I've come across previous discussions, but wanted to see a pulse on who's the best right now and not however long ago. coming from the DC scene, the pizza chefs there were always rotating and bouncing around and crusts were changing etc.

        2. You should definitely try Picco Pizza. It's up there with the best of them. Be sure to get the Strauss soft serve with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt for dessert.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            Agreed on Picco. Perfect combination of crust, cheese and sauce, each done right. Slightly edges out A16. Also a big fan of Bistro Don Giovanni's pizza in Napa, close to Picco but not quite. Picco offers some specialty pizzas with various toppings (all named after mountain bikes) but I'd suggest their margherita to start and then go from there.

            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              I recently tried Picco for the first time and after making the drive just to try it, was totally disappointed. We ordered two pizzas, the Seven and the Trek. I'm a huge mushroom fan, but the Seven is just too heavily loaded with mushrooms and besides the oregano, was completely bland. The Trek had some nice cherry tomatoes that gave it some flavor but the cheese again was flavorless. The crust on both pizzas was also chewier than I normally like.
              Pizzeria Delfina on the other hand is always a treat. Their hen of the woods pizza, in comparison to the Seven, is what a mushroom pie should be. Great combination of mushroom, cheese, thyme and crust. And nothing beats their Margarita with some buffalo mozzarella.

            2. After very exhaustive research - It really all boild down to this list in this order:

              1. Pizzeria Picco
              2. Dopo in Oakland (crisper crust and not like the readed floppy crust at Pizzaiolo
              3. Delfina
              4. Pizzaiolo

              1. The Chronicle's Michael Bauer is on a similar mission. You might be interested in his findings each Friday:

                1. Just make sure to never have a pie at Apizza Scholls in Portland.. I've been ruined ever since getting back...

                  1. pasquales (spelling) in the city. Irving and 6th I think. Great NY style pizza.

                    Pizzeria Bianco in AZ is very good and I havent found pizza like that in the bay. I slightly prefer Mozza in Los Angeles to it though.

                    1. It amazes me when people say they can't get great pizza in SF. Here are some of my favs: Pizzeria Delfina, A16, Little Star, Tommaso. And for delivery, Uncle Vito's and Victor's.

                      1. Just a note to encourage you to try Gialina Pizzeria. The pizzas are very good -- try the Wild Nettles w/ pancetta & fontina or the Potato w/ pancetta, rosemary & gorgonzola. And the salads and salumi plates (they've been different every time we've come and have all been delicious) are also excellent. We haven't tried the roasts, but the plates looked good.

                        2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                        1. I see so much positive feedback on Delfina. I was totally underwhelmed by their Margherita- the crust was pale and flaccid, it was oversauced in my opinion and the drizzle of oil didn't integrate well with the pie, it was a slick that slid off when you picked up the (soggy) slices. The hipster "I'm your best friend" service kind of rubbed me the wrong way too, I guess I'm getting old. Bad day/bad luck? Maybe. With a number of places using actual wood-fired ovens - Pizzeria Delfina does not - I'm surprised this comes out as tops so often. (I love A16, so not just a contrarian to the Chowhound darlings)

                          One place that barely gets a mention on this board, save for some fairly negative comments a while back, is Zuppa in SoMa. Like A16 they do use a wood-fired oven. I sat at the bar near the oven at lunch last week, and didn't have high hopes as the pizzaiolo looked like he didn't know what he was doing... kind of poking at it, seemed not very confident. But wow did it come out perfectly... thin but still with some chew, nice freckles of char, perfectly sauced, great balance on the mozzarella. I was very very pleasantly surprised and can't wait to go back - hoping it's consistent.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pincho

                            Thanks for the heads up on Zuppa...I'll definitely give them a shot!
                            As for Delfina, I've been 5-6 times and have always enjoyed my pizza...maybe you should give them another chance?

                          2. Not sure if you're willing to drive south to the San Jose area, but A Slice of New York www.asliceofnewyork.com has become my favorite thin-crust NY-style pizza, with Cicero's only a little behind (oilier crust, and crispier)

                            1. You know, in terms of pizza pizza... not super gourmet... but really good pizza that is supposed to taste like pizza (like Pizzeria Paradiso in DC, only here it is thin crust) I say L'Osteria del Forno in North Beach.

                              Here is their menu: http://www.losteriadelforno.com/info/...

                              1. Nobody mentioned Piccino in Dogpatch. Had some wonderful, ultra-thin crust pizza there. Very tasty, and the crust held up enough to hold the pizza in my hands even though it was so thin. Definitely worth a try.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: chemchef

                                  i didnt think Piccino was top of the class.
                                  i have to say i'm not as fond of the "ultra thin" style as some,
                                  but even in that category, i dont think it was the best.

                                  1. re: psb

                                    Yeah, I guess you gotta like the ultra-thin to go there. The hubby and I loved it. He got the "white" pizza and I got the Margherita. Both with perfectly-crispy, cracker-thin crust. Those pizzas along with the antipasto plate were simply delish!

                                    1. re: chemchef

                                      did you try that pizza with 2 eggs for ~$13.50?
                                      did it seem worth $13.50 to you?

                                      it seemed pretty expensive to me.

                                      when delfina first opened its pizza operation, i similarly thought
                                      it was not a good deal because they left such a large amount of
                                      untoppinged crust on the outside. so the "effective pizza size" was
                                      a lot smaller than the actual diamerter. so good as it was, one wasnt
                                      really enough for a meal. in fact i'm not sure two would have been
                                      enough. and it seems kinda crazy to have to spend +$20 on just
                                      the pizza. but it seems like they retooled some time after that and
                                      they are ok now, if you are willing to deal with the wait etc.

                                      i thought pizzalalio was really good. better than nizza la bella.

                                      i live just over the hill from piccino and could see spending 5min
                                      driving there to have lunch with a friend. is it a place you would spend
                                      20min to drive to and spend 15min looking for parking and wait 20min
                                      for a table. no way. is it worth eating there? sure, i suppose if you
                                      arent that hungry. is it best in the yeah area? come on.

                                      i think cheejboard is one of the crown jewels of berkeley.
                                      lots of people say things like "i loved cheejboard when i went to
                                      school at berkeley. i'm going to be in town and i'm going to make
                                      it a point to go to there when i am in town." can you imagine
                                      somebody saying "i am going to make it a point to go to piccino
                                      when i am in SF for 3 days"? if somebody told me it was worth
                                      a bridge toll to go into town to go to piccino [as opposed to perhaps
                                      A16 or small star or delfina] i think i;d be super annoyed.

                                      ok i'll stop beating this into the ground.

                                      ok tnx.

                                2. for old school artery clogging many-meat stromboli pizza,
                                  FJLT in mountain view has been a long favorite.
                                  i wouldnt drive from SF to get one, but i think that's what
                                  i am going to standardize on when taking a turn in the south.

                                  i recently tried a comparable pizza from pezella's and it was
                                  ok, but not as good ... crust a little underdone
                                  [possibly because i was waiting: because i called in a togo order
                                  and got there pretty fast] and fewer toppings than FJLT.

                                  i think zachary's is massively overrated and not customer friendly.

                                  like little star, but i usually have gone when the waits werent too bad.
                                  can imagine the waits some times are pretty long.

                                  has anybody been to MULBERRY PIZZA in San Rafel?

                                    1. The floppiness of your pies at Pizzaiolo might have to do with your choice of toppings. Though the tomatoes lend great flavor, their high water content can create a soggier crust. Next time, I'd recommend something with sausage and greens.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                        yep, i agree w/the clam one. but the eggplant/ricotta/one was still soggier than expected, though probably because of the heavy slabs of eggplant. but it wasn't like what I've had at A16, where the floppiness ruins it and makes it hard to eat.

                                      2. Goat Hill Pizza in SF & Toto's in San Bruno. Mmmmmm!!

                                        1. Wow...I have a lot of pizza places to try!

                                          I really like Gialina...very thin and well done crusts. The puttanesca pizza is a bit on the salty side, though. If you go, you have to try their mascarpone/nociola/amaretti pizza dessert. It's out of this world.

                                          A bit cheaper and quicker (depending on where you live), I enjoyed my pepperoni pizza at Pizza My Heart in Santa Cruz.

                                          Finally, the pizza at 21st Amendment sucks. Too bad...because I like their beer.

                                          1. I'm a big fan of Dopo's pizza: nice tender charred crust, good toppings.