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Gialina: Loved It.

  • pane Oct 24, 2008 09:45 AM
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Last night I went to Gialina with four people, including two regulars, and was impressed with the place and the food. Glen Park: where have you been all my life?

For starters we shared an arugula salad, meatballs and salt cod patties. Arugula (from Mariquita) was so superior I wanted to photograph it to file under "arugula" in an encyclopedia of excellent greens. Really delicious meatballs that were surprisingly light and filled with crunchy bits of pistachio and pine nut set against a bright tomato sauce. The salt cod pleased no one: too "fishy" for two people at the table, though I (the only one who likes bacalao) thought the flavor was not nearly aggressive enough.

As far as the pizzas, some interesting choices, all thin crust.

The two regulars are vegetarians and shared the margherita and three cheese pizzas, which, frankly, sounded boring to me. I curse my quick judgment: the three cheese was a fantastic combination of ricotta, provolone and pecorino. The balance of salt to fat was perfect, little spiky taste bombs in your mouth. Highly recommended.

Another winner was the pizza with wild nettles, Boccalone pancetta, red onion and provolone. Lovely, earthy nettles and still-crispy pork strips.

The only pizza I didn't love was the fig, but probably the only thing I make at home and am not embarrassed to serve is a pretty excellent fig pizza. Theirs didn't top mine, but I am a tough (and maybe impossible) customer on that front. To me, the fontina wasn't tough enough to balance the fat, sweet figs.

Overall, food was great, and I loved the atmosphere and friendly servers. I was there with two suburbanites, including one who is about 80 years old, and while I can't imagine bringing them to cramped Pizzeria Delfina or Piccino, the spacious dining room was pretty and not overly noisy, and the menu was interesting enough to feel cosmopolitan but still accessible.

Menu: http://www.gialina.com/menu/

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    Gialina
    2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

    1. The three cheese pizza was a combination of ricotta, provolone, and RICOTTA???

      1 Reply
      1. re: chemchef

        HA. Sorry: pecorino. Edited.

      2. I agree - Gialiana is fantastic and the waiters are super nice. I have gone twice, one with my picky 65+ year old parents who loved it as well. For me, it's up there with Delfina and Pizzaiolo (Pizzaiolo and Picco are top notch). I prefer Gialiana to A16 these days too after a disappointing visit to A16 a few months ago.

        1. I was just there last Sunday and had that pizza with the nettles. It was even good leftover the next day. I LOVE their crust too. I joke that I would order just the crust without the pizza. It's just the right combo of crispy and chewy. My husband swears they put butter in it, it's so savory. Gialina kicks A16's pizza butt.

          1. I noticed they don't take reservations. Which usually adds to the hassle of trying to dine there at a decent hour.

            How long does one typically have to wait, on a weekend evening?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Scott M

              The space is fairly small. The tables along the banquette wall are very close together, as in elbow to elbow with your neighbors. There are individual tables as well, which are nice. As for a wait, I have waited about an hour for a table for two before but generally the wait is 1/2 hour or so.

              My husband and I really enjoy Gialina but like the crust better at Pizzeria Delfina (and the new Pac Heights location is very spacious).

            2. Went there shortly after it was featured in the Chronicle's series of features on local pizza places. Had awful awful pies (my friend's squash pizza was especially reprehensible, while my margherita was the epitome of boring) and have never been back. :)

              1. Lately, my husband and I have been coming here every Wednesday/Thursday for a mid-week "date". If you hit it between the time that folks with kids leave and folks without kids arrive, the wait's not too long (usually between 7-8). Last night it was warm and i ordered the puttanesca, which was light but zesty (maybe a little salty for some but I like). Love this place, my only gripe is the wine can be a little pricy for the tumbler-sized servings.

                1. Love this place, too.

                  We get take out from here often. Not on the printed menu, but worth mentioning - they will do custom kids pizzas, smaller and less expensive the the main pies.

                  And leave some room for dessert! I think the dessert selections are excellent. If you didn't get your fill of the crust, try the chocolate hazelnut dessert pizza. For all I know, it's Nutella from a jar, but whatever it is, it tastes great on that crust along with a cup of espresso. They serve Bi-Rite ice cream, and if you like your ice cream and espresso together - Affogato! But my favorite is the housemade Italian ice. The flavors vary. Recently had a delicious Ruby Grapefruit Italian ice with Campari

                  1. I've been to Gialina 5 or 6 times, and I want to like it more than I do. I've found the pizzas to be inconsistent over my several visits. Sometimes, they are, as pane described, fantastic, and at other times the crust has been undersalted and/or undercooked. To me, it's not in the same league as A16 and Pizzetta 211, my perennial favorites. I would consider it second tier, but a strong second tier, equivalent in quality to Piccino in Dogpatch, or Picco in Larkspur, and perhaps just a step below Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Delfina, which lag just behind A16 and Pizzetta 211.

                    I've never had to wait long for a table, but I tend to go around 7 or 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. The atmosphere is convivial but not unpleasantly crowded or loud, and I've generally had good service.

                    Desserts to me are weaker than the savory foods. I don't like the "nutella" pizza - way too bready after having a meal of pizza. Affogato is the way to go.

                    1. I tried Gialina when it first opened and was disappointed - I think A16 has the best piza in the area, mainly due to the wood oven. But since I live in the neighborhood I've been back to Gialina recently and I have to say the pizza is much improved since their early days. I've been there 2-3 times in the last 2 months, and they've been consistently really good - I like the crust much better now. The wild nettle pizza is amazing. If you haven't been recently you might be surprised at how good it is.

                      1. Interesting to hear. I've suggested it a number of times on here, but just recently went back and felt like it's gone downhill with the owner/chef doing as they're prone to do and leaving the place unattended. I've ordered some of the more exotic combination trusting Gialina's could pull them of, but they were disasters. The lamb-gyro combination comes to mind. I had the same fig pizza recently and the amount of arugula was comedic. It was basically a salad pizza with a layer of cold leafs laid on top of what would have been a good pie. I've also noticed the crust isn't the same, or maybe it's just inconsistent.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Well I've never had the lamb-gyro or the fig so I can't vouch for them. The nettle, margherita, potato have all been good.

                          1. re: sunnyside

                            I've had the nettles where it was undercooked. Not my favorite combo. I really loved the summer squash pizza when they had it, with great big even slices of squash covering the entire pie. It was insanely good. If the nettles or squash aren't cooked to perfection, it's difficult to even eat it.

                        2. I was recently spending quite a bit of time at City College and tried Gialina thanks to a Chowhound thread. My sausage and dandelion green pizza was great, even when the leftovers were reheated. The crust is very thin on the bottom but fluffy/crispy on the edges, and very delicious. I had to eat early (around 5:30 when they open) and there was no wait then. I would definitely like to try more of the menu here.

                          Michael

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mdg

                            Finally got back to Gialina and was able to try more things. Our atomica pizza was every bit as outstanding as I remembered. Our appetizers - some wonderful little meatballs and a fine fava bean salad - got things started on the right foot. They were serving Bi-Rite ice cream for dessert so I finally got a chance to try it, and I can see what the hype is about! The homemade lemon prosecco ice was great too. They were pouring a great Barbera that matched perfectly with the meatballs and pizza; there was also a Primitivo that was good but on the rustic side.

                            Wish we lived closer so we could try it more often! Gialina's pizza has a personality unlike any others that I've had, and is a great choice for people who want to try a real "only in San Francisco" type of place. We had no problem getting in on Sunday at 5:05 pm, but by 5:30 pm it was full and there was a waiting list.

                            Michael

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                            Gialina
                            2842 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131