Tommaso's, Yucatasia, Bi-Rite Creamery
Random weekend in the City.
We stumbled into Tommaso's in North Beach after having a Volcano Bowl at Bamboo Hut down the street (tiki bar on Broadway). It was pretty early on Friday night so there wasn't a line yet at Tommaso's, which has a line out the door most nights and is considered massively touristy and also a bone of contention on the boards here. Actually, I never knew that for a fact but assumed as such, only because I think the San Francisco board has a predictable vibe on some issues. Anyhow, we decided the lack of line was worth trying a pie there. We split a small sausage pizza. Service was fast and friendly. I would consider the crust to be not exactly New York style, but that sort of thinness (meaning thicker than Midwest thin crust). It had a brick-oveny taste to it with some crisp and char on the outer edge without too much of a raised ridge on the outside of the crust. The crust was crisp and chewy at the same time, kind of exactly how I like a crust to be. I would compare the crust favorably to Ernesto's in Boston's North End. The sausage was sliced (how I prefer it), but was really only OK. I can't remember the name for the style of sausage, but it wasn't a sweet fennel-laced Italian sausage, but more another kind. The cheese was perfectly cooked in my opinion. It had that first-time cooked gooeyness but also chewiness that good pizza cheese has to it, with some browning on top. Too many places around here barely melt their cheese into this mess that doesn't have an heft too it. I would consider the sauce to be the weakest part. The sauce had no individuality. It tasted very tomato pastey, as in like contadina straight out of the can. I thought the pizza was worth a description instead of "it was good/sucked" so people could understand just what this pizza is like, beyond the arguments of whether it is worth eating.
Satisfaction at the moment of consumption: A
First visit to this place on Mission in the Mission. Besides Cochinita pibil, I don't really know what is what on the menu, and sometimes when people discuss dishes here by name, I'm not exactly certain what is what either, so I had the cochinita. The absolute highlight of this dish was the fresh, homemade corn tortillas that came with the tender, falling apart slow roasted achiote marinated pork. The first tortilla was the best as it had a little bit of crispness from being warmed up on the griddle. Cochinita can sometimes be more subtle than one would expect. I found Yucatasia's to be on the subtle side, not strongly flavored, but served with the traditional pickled red onions with Yucatasia having the habanero salsa (very thin and lightly orange) on the side. I only could handle two spoons of nuclear firepower with the pork, served with plentiful broth in a bowl, but it was pretty good. I wish the restaurant were cleaner, but the waitstaff was quite friendly.
Satisfaction at the moment of consumption: A
Our only other attempt at this place was foiled by a line down the block. Even thought it was quite nice when we went on Saturday, the line was just barely out the door so we went for it. Compared to the other pricey, upscale ice cream places in the Bay Area (Sketch, Ici) I liked Bi-Rite a lot better. One thing was the price, at Bi-Rite you could get two small scoops of different flavors in the "single scoop", which was certainly a lot more ice cream than the miniscule amounts you get at Sketch. I tried the malted vanilla with peanut brittle chunks and orange/cardamom. I expect the orange/cardamom would be disappointing to some because the balance of the two flavors requires a very light orange touch, I still thought it was great. Texture was creamy with a very, very slight iciness, which is preferably to me over a chewy texture. The malted vanilla just tasted really good, and didn't need any peanut brittle, which was still nice to have in there. Cone was a sugar cone, tasted lighter and less coney than some. My wife had canela cinnamon snicker doodle (pretty good) and mint chip (very good).
Also had an OK dinner at Ozone Thai on Polk. However, this should be the basis of another thread, regarding how unbelievably sick I am of freezing inside of restaurants that won't turn the heat on because somehow "California" means "warm." I'm certain we could fill pages of posts with especially egregious examples of inability to properly heat a restaurant.
2164 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Tommaso Ristorante Italiano
1042 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133
1160 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
479 Broadway, San Francisco, CA
I was at Tomasso's last Friday, also, and surprisingly did not have much of a wait for two around 7. We shared the green beans - simply and deliciously dressed with olive oil, lemon and a bit of parsley, sage and garlic; the co-co clams cooked in the wood oven; and, though I had intended to get their very special pizza with garlic and herbs and no cheese, the day's special pizza with fontina, carmelized onions and chanterelle mushrooms was irresistable. It was pretty heavy/cheesey, so just one piece was enough, but the leftovers made an awesome lunch on Saturday.
I have always preferred certain other menu items to the pizza (though we always have one): spaghetti with calamare or with broccoli and, ALWAYS, the broccoli choice among the not-appreciated-enough vegetable side dishes that have been a feature here as long as I can remember.
That said, the most recent visit, after Agostino sold it (to his staff, if I remember right), was so disappointing I could hardly believe it. The squid bordered on inedible. The pizza was not up to par. Can't remember if I posted at the time.
BTW, my favorite memory, probably back when this was Lupo's and labor unions were powerful here, is the housemade, brick-oven bread on the two days a week the local bakeries were closed--Wednesday and Sunday.
For those newer to SF: Tommaso's claims to have the oldest wood-fired pizza oven in the state.