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best pizza?

eileenmary Jul 23, 2008 07:49 AM

I am coming from Brooklyn, NY and visiting this weekend. I try to sample the best pizza when I travel (if appropriate) and was wondering if I should try a slice while I am here and if so where would be the best place to go locally? Thanks!!!

  1. rworange Jul 25, 2008 11:34 AM

    Well, AOL just published its best restaurant lists and here are the results for best pizza in SF

    Arizmendi Bakery
    Mozzarella Di Bufala Pizzeria
    Tommaso Ristorante Italiano
    Little Star Pizza
    Goat Hill Pizza
    Pauline's Pizza Pie

    Actually some of the other categories are respectable enough ... though there are ringers in every category ... probably some enthusiastic owners getting the votes in. The Family Friendly category is just a mess though ... even the one or two good restaurants are not places I'd recommend taking a family.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rworange
      Robert Lauriston Jul 25, 2008 01:55 PM

      Has Goat Hill improved in recent years? It used to be very average.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        sugartoof Jul 25, 2008 02:10 PM

        It's average, but I think it might be a good example of a style of pizza more commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest. There have been discussion on Yelp about how transplants to New York can't get anything close with the low barely there crust, and sweeter sauce. To me it's similar to Round Table Pizza.

        The all you can eat special at Goat Hill Pizza is probably why it still wins votes.

        1. re: sugartoof
          walker Jul 25, 2008 02:48 PM

          For people who don't know: the special is on Monday nights.

          1. re: walker
            Robert Lauriston Jul 25, 2008 02:59 PM

            And every day but Sunday at the Howard location. It's fun to try once.

          2. re: sugartoof
            daveena Aug 20, 2008 06:47 PM

            That's interesting - my first thought when I tasted Goat Hill's pizza was "tastes exactly like Two Boots" (I didn't like Two Boots either).

      2. pavlov Jul 25, 2008 10:34 AM

        Again.. Inner Sunset you can hit three:

        Arizamendi (not like your pizza - bakery foccacia weirdness but considered some of the best)
        across the street...


        And PASQUALE'S! I would go with the latter if you only hit one around these parts.

        1. Neilo Jul 24, 2008 09:58 PM

          Orgasmica and Little Star (deep dish only) are both worth seeking out. Orgasmica has slices but Little Star is only dinner and whole pies.

          ...the OP is asking for suggestions-not a rehash of "boo hoo we have no bagels or pizza'.

          1. c
            chilihead2006 Jul 24, 2008 08:52 PM

            I'm originally from NY. Our favorite pizza out here is the L'Artigiano pie with a double order of anchovies at Nizza La Bella in Albany. It's as good as anything I've had back east or in Italy.


            1. s
              sugartoof Jul 24, 2008 02:47 PM

              Gialina or Arizzmendi for something a little different then what you can get in NY.

              If you're looking for something similar to NY then Delfina at lunchtime. If you like the square at Artichoke then try one at Golden Boy in North Beach. If you like John's then there are a few places in SF of the same era and style.

              San Francisco has been reinventing itself as far as pizza goes, going more rustic or trying to copy fresh mozzarella pies, but the city used to do great pizzas with thick well done crust, lots of cheese and heavy rich sauces...you'd have a tough time finding and individual style these days though.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sugartoof
                Robert Lauriston Jul 25, 2008 09:08 AM

                Pizzeria Delfina's menu is the same all day. No slices.

                John's of Bleeker Street has a coal oven, which makes for a different crust than anyone does here. Tommaso's is the only pizzeria in this area that's that old.

                Nizza la Bella explicitly styles its pizzas after old-school New York pizzerias. They have a note on the menu that the pies are baked at 800 degrees and that the crust will be "lightly charred ... unless otherwise requested." My favorite's the San Gennaro with scamorza, sausage, peppers, onions, and garlic.

                Nizza La Bella
                827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  sugartoof Jul 25, 2008 11:57 AM

                  Delfina at lunch is calmer with less wait, and I find the pies less rushed. I never claimed they had a different menu or served slices.

                  Gaspare's Pizza is very similar to John's. Brick oven aside, Tommaso's is nothing like John's.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    steve h. Jul 25, 2008 02:02 PM

                    john's is on bleecker. i mean no offense. it's like the sfo or san fran thing.

                2. w
                  whiner Jul 24, 2008 03:59 AM

                  L'Osteria del Forno. Porcini pizza for something you cannot find easily in NYC. But they are all wonderful.

                  1. k
                    kresge86 Jul 23, 2008 03:35 PM

                    Funny... I know everyone loves A16, but my pizza was soggy and uninteresting. Pizzetta 211 is okay, but feels quite precious and overpriced for what it is. Delfina is good. I've heard Little Star is good. I've also enjoyed good pizza at Tomasso's. For "everyday" pizza (as opposed to special-occasion, expensive, wait-in-long-lines, pizza), I enjoy Extreme, Orgasmica, Gaspare's, Arizmendi and Nizario's.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kresge86
                      Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 06:57 PM

                      Little Star makes the best Chicago-style deep-dish pies in the area. Might be better than what you can get in NYC since Goldberg's closed.

                      Tommaso's usually has a line, but its prices are similar to Gaspare's or any nice neighborhood pizzeria.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        jpancake Jul 23, 2008 08:25 PM

                        I've had surprisingly good Chicago-style pies at Little Star when I ordered 'off the menu' -- specifying specific ingredients. The tables at the Valencia location are criminally close together (honestly, not more than 6" apart), and, for that reason, I like the Divisadero branch better -- even if it can be monstrously loud.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          jefeG Jul 24, 2008 08:29 AM

                          I would not say Little Star has the best deep-dish. I have had it, and while it is quite amazing, I think if you went out to the East Bay and tried Zachary's you would agree that Zach's pies edge out LS' 9 times out of 10.

                          Also, Mozza in LA is definitely the best in the state. Indescribable.

                        2. re: kresge86
                          jpancake Jul 23, 2008 08:21 PM

                          I absolutely agree about A16. Soggy, and boring. Pizzetta 211 varies wildly based on who's working the oven; though their salads are almost always stellar. I've been to Pizzeria Delfina three times and never had a good pizza. Twice I've had cheese that tasted ... foul ... after it set.

                          For everyday I like Serrano's; their slices are a screaming deal and, given the price, I'll overlook the overabundance of cheese.

                        3. rworange Jul 23, 2008 11:01 AM

                          What are you looking for ... comparing NY-style pizza or just what might be the best of a local version? If you are looking for what you get back home, it is not worth it. However, California-style pizza might be worth it. Arizmendi makes a good slice of pizza if you are up near Golden Gate Park.

                          Tomasso's is close to East Coast pizza though I'm not a fan of it.

                          A16 gets positive mentions as does Pizzetta 211.

                          Then again you can give Orson a try. The chocolate, espelette, sea salt, olive oil pizza just got an enthusiastic report

                          Other pizza on the menu
                          - boudin noir, arugula, potato, oregano pizza
                          - sausage, olive, summer squash, pecorino pizza
                          - tomato, guanciale, egg, chili flake, robiola pizza

                          One pizza will be a meal for one or can be shared by 2.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rworange
                            Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 06:41 PM

                            Tommaso's (opened as Lupo's in 1935, the oldest pizzeria in the west) isn't really very East Coast in style. The oven burns wood rather than coal, the crust is thicker, and they don't bake as dark.

                          2. v
                            virtualguthrie Jul 23, 2008 10:17 AM

                            If you're just looking for pizza by the slice I think Arinell is worth a visit.

                            Arinell Pizza
                            509 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: virtualguthrie
                              Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 11:10 AM

                              Arinell is a passable rendition of an average NY "Ray's"-style street slice. Serious waste of time, money, and calories for anyone on a short visit from New York, especially given its proximity to Poc-Chuc, Yamo, and many of the contenders for best burrito.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                jpancake Jul 23, 2008 01:33 PM

                                Agreed. Unless you're interested in seeing the lunatic fringe of Mission style (bullet belts, amazingly unwashed hair), I'd save your money.

                                There's an excess of good food in San Francisco, but none of it is pizza.

                                1. re: jpancake
                                  Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 01:45 PM

                                  There's great pizza in San Francisco, most of them are just similar to what can be had in New York. E.g. pizza-loving visitors from most other places might be excited to try the AVPN-certified Neapolitan-style pie at A16, but New York has two AVPN members.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    jpancake Jul 23, 2008 03:14 PM

                                    I think you can go to any large city in America and get something like you get at any of the pizza places that have opened in SF within the last 3-4 years: 10" or smaller pizzas cooked in precious ovens and topped with arugula.

                                    In my book the only pizza place on the west coast that is worth getting excited about is Apizza Scholls in Portland. Everything else may serve to feed a pizza need, but it's not worth directing someone from out of town to seek them out. The pies just aren't that special.

                                    1. re: jpancake
                                      ML8000 Jul 23, 2008 04:24 PM

                                      Not a big pizza guy but Mozza in LA and Chez Panisse might be worth it. Not east coast but it doesn't need to be.

                                      1. re: ML8000
                                        Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 06:34 PM

                                        Chez Panisse's former pizza chef opened Pizzaiolo, which makes somewhat similar but to my taste better pizza. Also, at CP there's just the pie of the day, Pizzaiolo gives you a choice.

                                        I found the pies at Pizzeria Mozza a step or three down from those at Pizzaiolo, Dopo, or A16:


                                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  virtualguthrie Jul 23, 2008 02:01 PM

                                  It seems like the OP wants pizza and isn't too concerned about trying something they can easily get at home, and they asked for slices so....

                                  I've had plenty of pizza in NYC, slices and restaraunts, and I think if you're looking for a good slice of pizza here in SF that's one of the few places to get one.

                              2. wolfe Jul 23, 2008 09:33 AM

                                Our "best pizza" is probably a mission burrito.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: wolfe
                                  ML8000 Jul 23, 2008 10:12 AM

                                  Indeed...well said.

                                  I'd apply that to Chicago hot dogs and Philly Cheesesteak. When in Rome...

                                2. Lando Jul 23, 2008 09:13 AM

                                  NY pizza may be better than the spots out here. I haven't ate at the spots listed above, my I usually head to Amici's Pizza. They have several locations in the Bay Area. I like it there.


                                  1. k
                                    kresge86 Jul 23, 2008 09:06 AM

                                    I second Pizzeria Delfina. I also love Gioia Pizzeria in Berkeley.

                                    Pizzeria Delfina
                                    3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                    Gioia Pizzeria
                                    1586 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA 94707

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kresge86
                                      Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 09:26 AM

                                      Gioia's owner explicitly characterizes the pizza as Brooklyn-style.

                                      They have some quality toppings, but personally I find the crust oddly tasteless.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        rccola Jul 24, 2008 07:53 AM

                                        I love Gioia's crust. Often steal it from the plates of friends and family. Other crusts are often over-salted. In fact, the last two pizzas I've had from Pizzaiolo have been seriously over-salted. Don't think Charlie was there.

                                        1. re: rccola
                                          Robert Lauriston Jul 24, 2008 08:41 AM

                                          Tastes vary. It's most likely Gioia's stinginess with salt that makes the crust seem so tasteless to me. Their choice of flour might be part of it as well.

                                    2. Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 08:57 AM

                                      I'm not sure we have any slice pizza that's worth the time of someone from NYC. Some places that have good pizza unlike what you can get at home:

                                      Cheese Board (Berkeley) / Arizmendi (SF)
                                      Dopo (Oakland)
                                      Pizzaiolo (Oakland)
                                      Pizzeria Delfina

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Melanie Wong Jul 23, 2008 02:47 PM

                                        Not L'Osteria del Forno for a slice while touring North Beach?

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                                          Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 06:27 PM

                                          Yeah, there's a good chance their porcini pizza bianca's not like anything in NYC.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            Melanie Wong Jul 24, 2008 05:32 PM

                                            Here's a shot of the my half of three slices split for lunch with a friend.

                                            The porcini pizza bianca is in the middle.

                                            L'Osteria del Forno
                                            519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                          DezzerSF Jul 23, 2008 07:14 PM

                                          Any reason why you recommended the SF Arizmendi as opposed to the 2 East Bay locations?

                                          1. re: DezzerSF
                                            Robert Lauriston Jul 23, 2008 07:39 PM

                                            It's near places a tourist might have some reason to visit.

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