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NY Slices @ Pizzeria Avellino in SF (Lombard Gate)

Melanie Wong Aug 21, 2009 04:10 PM

Mom and I had lunch at the new Pizzeria Avellino on Lombard @ Lyon. It opened on Tuesday. Pizzamaster Ralph said he'd spent his pizza-making career in Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side. The menu offers whole NY-style pies and slices and whole pizza napoletana. The new liquor license is still pending and the yellow building doesn't have a sign yet.

We tried the mushroom ($3.25), pepperoni ($3.25), and plain cheese ($2.75) slices. Cheese is whole milk mozzarella and applied with a judicious hand. The crust could have been a little mroe charred, but was evenly browned top and bottom with a crisp bite and nice chew. Both the sauce and crust could use more salt for my taste.

Particularly nice job with the mushroom, using sauteed, thick slices of fresh champignon. Lots of pepperoni on the slice. The cheese pizza seemed a little bland, but I was too lazy to walk inside to get the oregano and grated cheese to jazz it up.

This was a beautiful day to sit outside at a red tables. There's seating inside as well. Here are some photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/3844020566
http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/3844020564
http://twitpic.com/equcx

Pizzeria Avellino
2769 Lombard St., at Lyon St. (415-776-2500)
http://pizzeriaavellino.com/

  1. Cynsa Aug 21, 2009 04:17 PM

    mmm... hot and melty.

    1. wineguy7 Aug 25, 2009 05:56 PM

      I dropped in for a cheese slice today and can report that the bottom crust was well-charred.

      5 Replies
      1. re: wineguy7
        p
        poulet_roti Aug 25, 2009 09:08 PM

        Cannot argue, pictures look like good parlor pie. Imagine it should do well with the late night bar crowd in the neighborhood.

        1. re: poulet_roti
          Melanie Wong Aug 25, 2009 09:17 PM

          Here are the hours Tablehopper reported today: Mon–Thu 11:30am–10pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–11pm, and Sun 11:30am–10pm.

          I regret not taking an "upskirt" photo to show the browning on the underside. :-)

        2. re: wineguy7
          Melanie Wong Aug 25, 2009 09:18 PM

          Did you like it?

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            wineguy7 Aug 26, 2009 01:37 PM

            Yes, but I agree with you about the lack of salt.

          2. re: wineguy7
            d
            drinkmoretang Aug 27, 2009 06:14 AM

            One more confirmation that the crust was well charred. Crust was even thinner than I'm accustomed to - but this was undoubtedly the best NY-style pizza I've had in the area.

            Agree that the sauce may be a little undersalted, and while the crust might be just slightly less substantial than I would have liked, the whole package is pretty wonderful. Thought the crust itself had good depth of flavor, had an appealing crunch, and the balance of the crispness and meatiness of the outer crust reminded me of home more than any other pizza I've had here. As a caveat: I do prefer an underseasoned pizza to an overseasoned one.

            I'm one of the many who'd all but given up on finding a comforting NY-style slice, having conceded that the only time I should be eating this kind of pizza is on my annual trip back home. There are obviously great pizza offerings in SF, but none of them really satisfy the same craving; Pizza Avellino just about does it for me.

            Was informed that a Sicilian should be in the works as soon as the pans arrive - will be eager to try that as well.

          3. l
            Larry Stein Aug 26, 2009 09:57 AM

            How much seating is there inside? My girlfriend lives about a 5 min. walk away. We might want to eat there rather than bring a pie home.

            Also, do you foresee any issue with bringing wine?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Larry Stein
              Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2009 10:13 AM

              In California it's illegal for a a restaurant without a liquor license to allow you to BYOB. If they got caught, it could derail their license application.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                p
                PizzeriaAvellino Aug 26, 2009 07:24 PM

                Hi All,
                Thanks for the nice replies regarding Pizzeria Avellino. We are doing our best to bring you the best and are VERY happy with all the positive responses from our customers. We definitely do not allow BYOB. We will have beer and wine in the near future as our license is in process. In addition to our NY style pizza which we think is fantastic, we have a Rustic Napolitana style pizza that we think is equally excellent. Hope to see you at the pizzeria.

                1. re: PizzeriaAvellino
                  b
                  bobpantzer Aug 27, 2009 08:04 AM

                  Thanks, PizzeriaAvellino, for your post. As I live in the neighborhood, I look forward to seeing you soon and often. By the way, do you deliver?

                  1. re: PizzeriaAvellino
                    wineguy7 Nov 9, 2009 06:59 AM

                    Mrs. Wineguy and I stopped in for an early dinner last night before a show at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. We ordered the Greco, which is one of their Napolitana pizzas. We loved the thin, crisp crust and the freshness of the spinach, tomatoes and feta. The toasted pine nuts lent a wonderful texture, flavor and counterpoint to the Kalamata olives. We found the pesto in perfect proportion. The lack of salt in the dough seemed to be consistent with my previous visit, but seemed less of a problem considering the salty ingredients on top of the pizza.

                    We had hoped that a beer and wine license would have been in place by now. I didn't ask about it.

                2. re: Larry Stein
                  Melanie Wong Aug 26, 2009 11:04 AM

                  It's a small storefront with a handful of tables inside. Until the liquor license is issued, dunno about byob.

                3. k
                  katya Aug 26, 2009 03:59 PM

                  Hmmm... Pizza-making career in Spanish Harlem? I wonder if he trained at my favorite pizza place, Patsy's...

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: katya
                    s
                    SarahKC Aug 26, 2009 04:28 PM

                    Predictions for wait on Saturday night?

                    1. re: katya
                      Melanie Wong Aug 26, 2009 06:13 PM

                      I said that Patsy's was one of my faves, and he didn't bite.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong
                        ChowFun_derek Sep 28, 2009 10:14 AM

                        I did the same!!

                        1. re: ChowFun_derek
                          Melanie Wong Sep 28, 2009 10:19 AM

                          And your verdict on the slice?

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            ChowFun_derek Sep 30, 2009 10:18 AM

                            It was "New York'ish"...as slices go...in NY an additional small handful of cheese is added to the precooked slice in order to revive the texture of the cheese...which takes on a mushy quality (rather than 'stretchy') when reheated. They only offered one size (Huge.pie 16") 'cause a pizza place, I believe should not be judged only on its' 'slices' ...they said they were thinking of doing a medium pie (HELLO!!!) and I would order that and take the leftovers with me....I hope they follow through...cause it would certainly help their bottom line!

                      2. re: katya
                        s
                        sugartoof Sep 25, 2009 11:54 PM

                        Judging by the pictures, his background isn't at any of those old timers like Patsy's or Lombardi's, and the only places on the Lower East Sides are just greasy slice joints. That's what these look like...a greasy NYC slice....but that's good news for people who miss that sort of thing, and frequent that slice place on Valencia at 16th. The ingredients do sound better then your typical New York slice, but I wouldn't read too much into the guys background based on the two neighborhoods he mentioned.

                        1. re: sugartoof
                          rworange Sep 26, 2009 12:43 AM

                          It isn't greasy.

                          1. re: rworange
                            s
                            sugartoof Sep 26, 2009 01:10 AM

                            The slices look like they're glistening, which would normally be from grease.
                            A typical real New York slice is usually greasy to some degree.

                            1. re: sugartoof
                              rworange Sep 26, 2009 07:24 AM

                              I know. This is not a grease dripping down your sleeve type of pizza. In that sense, Parry's in American Canyon is closer to the inexpensive, oily NY slice.

                              1. re: rworange
                                s
                                sugartoof Sep 26, 2009 12:06 PM

                                The Pizza Place on Noriega , 3901 Noreiga St. also claims an East Coast style, and iooks very similar to this. I don't think it's fit the bill for many cravings, but worth mentioning.

                              2. re: sugartoof
                                ChowFun_derek Sep 26, 2009 08:47 AM

                                NY Pizza has a sprinkling of olive oil drizzled on the pie before it goes into the oven..it leads to the lava-like cheese on it...one man's grease is another man's olive oil!

                                1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                  s
                                  sugartoof Sep 26, 2009 12:00 PM

                                  That is literally true of a hand full of the more famed pizza places that use olive oil, because the majority of New York pizza joints use a pre-shredded oil based cheese substitute/blend that accounts for one of the main sources of grease in a greasy slice.

                                  It depends how much of the ingredients are fresh, as opposed to coming from a giant white plastic bucket, or an industrial can. I talk about greasy slices the way people talk about greasy spoons, more as as style than literal grease. These look like the $1-$3.50 junk food slices you can find all over New York. Some are better than others, but it's not the same breed as an olive oil soaked slice at Patsy's, or DiFara's, or....

                                  1. re: sugartoof
                                    ChowFun_derek Sep 27, 2009 08:54 AM

                                    OOOw! Your cheese description turned my stomach...but then you mentioned 2 of my 3 favorite New York Pizza places (the third being Totonno's in Coney Island..the same train as DiFara's)
                                    and in Manhattan Patsy's is my go to place...so at least the final memory was more "transcendent"!

                          2. re: katya
                            a_and_w Dec 24, 2009 10:02 AM

                            I was wondering the same thing. Then again, the value of Patsy's East Harlem is the coal oven. Absent that, it's just a solid street slice.

                            1. re: a_and_w
                              ChowFun_derek Dec 24, 2009 03:33 PM

                              I have found that both the quality of the cheese as well as the piquant sauce were what attracted me to Patsy's...I didn't even know they had a coal oven.

                          3. m
                            meggie t Aug 28, 2009 12:58 PM

                            My husband and I tried Pizzeria Avellino the other night. Got the NY style pizza with mushrooms and sausage. I agree with most of the comments here - definitely the closest thing to NY pizza parlor style pizza in SF. The cheese, toppings and crust texture were great - generous amount of mushrooms and very good sausage. In addition, the red pepper flakes are HOT! Very nice addition to the slice. Unfortunately I also agree with the undersalting issue. Both the sauce and crust were pretty bland due to the lack of salt. We had to salt the slices a lot just to get some flavor out of it. This will most likely prevent us from going again anytime soon.

                            As an FYI, only plastic forks and knives, which really don't work well on pizza (we wanted to indulge before it cooled!).

                            All in all, a nice addition to the neighborhood but I hope they start seasoning the crust and sauce more so I can return!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: meggie t
                              Shane Greenwood Dec 24, 2009 07:38 AM

                              They had metal forks when we went. Sounds like some of the details are being tweaked.

                            2. Melanie Wong Sep 16, 2009 08:50 AM

                              Has anyone tried the Napolitana style pizza yet?

                              Ninth Annual Chowing with the Hounds Picnic! October 3rd, 2009, details and registration info
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652687

                              Chowing with the Hounds Picnic, 2008 Report.
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560808

                              Recipes from the 2008 Chowing with the Hounds Picnic!
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560850

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                rworange Sep 25, 2009 07:56 PM

                                Yep, brought home the sausage and red onion rustica Napoletana tonight ... and a slice of plain cheese NY style.

                                Had a few bites of each hot out of the oven, but most of it was brought home for reheating.

                                I have a strong preference for the Napoltana.

                                As everyone has mentioned, the NY slice is nice enough, well made, but a bit on the bland side. I think this style is really the canvas for the excellent toppings.

                                The thin nicely chewy Napoletana had a crust with a few bubbles in it that were browned but not charred. The four cheese toppoing is excellent as is the sausage.I'd order extra sausage next time as there was only one piece on each slice. The micro thin red onion gave nice crsip sweet notes to the slice.

                                The whole pizza comes with a little cup of grated parmesan and a cup of chili flakes. As someone else mentioned, those pepper flakes were very good

                                I know nothing about what an authentic Neopolitan pizza should be, but I liked this a lot. Nexit time I'm going to give the procuitto, argulula, red onion and gorgonzola a try.

                                Of the two other Neopolitan pizzas I tried, Picco and Pizza Nostra this wasn't the same as those.

                                No Sicilian pizza yet and since this was to go I'm not sure of the status of liquor yet.

                                What I liked about this place was the relaxed neighborhood feel to the place. If I lived or worked in that area, I'd be a regular. So many of the other pizza places are just so sceney and have that hyped-up vibe to them that I find tiresome usually.

                                Sitting at the table next to the window looking out at the Lombard gate while waiting for the pizza was pleasant. even at a dead time in late afternoon a few tables were occupied with people kicking back and enjoying a slice. There was a healthy stream of people stopping by for pickup.

                                Don't miss the Ninth Annual Chowing with the Hounds Picnic! October 3rd, 2009, details and registration info
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652687

                              2. d
                                DavidT Sep 16, 2009 12:00 PM

                                I had my first slice at Avellino last night. It was the NY "special slice of the day" (bacon, pepperoni & mushrooms). The saltiness of bacon made up for any salt that was lacking in the crust. I would be happy to return again. I did not see any of the Napolitana slices on any of the tables, although someone did order a whole Napolitana pie to go while I was there.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: DavidT
                                  Melanie Wong Sep 16, 2009 12:04 PM

                                  I think the Napolitana is whole pies only.

                                  The bacon pizza sounds great.

                                2. psb Sep 27, 2009 06:05 PM

                                  Mostly just chiming in to add volume to the chorus, rather than any kind of counterpoint ...

                                  I stopped in Avellino after the SF Lib Book Sale and analyzed the the NY slice-of-the-day:
                                  mushroom, pep and bacon. Quite nice. Most distinctive thing was the crust -- which was
                                  a little farther toward the crust-that-breaks and away from the crust-that-tears ... although
                                  if you like to fold your NY slices, it's still a "foldable feast" ... Bend it like Brooklyn?

                                  The mushrooms were nice and chunky and pretty rich ... not the dessicated, microtomed
                                  slices you get from some so-so places.

                                  Slice with tax was $4.11 which makes it a fair amount more than say LANESPLITTER
                                  but it's probably only really about a quarter more.
                                  Given that ARINELL has a 50% miss rate these days, this place is probably a better
                                  option, although I suspect people are rarely going to be choosing between the two.

                                  I havent been back to Goia in a while but I feel I was happier coming out of Avellino
                                  than Goia ... or Speederia. I cant compare to Pie Sky ... I didnt remember well enough
                                  what I thought about them. Definitely better than Bobby G.

                                  I'd certainly drop in more often for a slice if they were a little more centrally located.

                                  BTW, is the sandwich place next door any good?

                                  1. Essen1 Nov 26, 2009 11:07 AM

                                    Went there yesterday.

                                    The crust was good, light and airy, had a nice texture and a fair amount of chew to it but the sauce and cheese need work. Too bland. And I suspect that the dough's made the same day since an overnight fermentation would definitely kick it up a notch in terms of flavor. It had a bread-like aftertaste. Could also use a tad more salt but that might slow down the fermentation and yeast activity.

                                    1. Shane Greenwood Dec 24, 2009 07:35 AM

                                      I agree with most of the comments too. Like DavidT I had the pepperoni and bacon slice so salt wasn't lacking. It is the best/only Manhattan style slice I've had in SF proper, but they don't have the variety of toppings you would find in NYC (no white pizza, and not many veg options). Speederia in San Carlos is still the better by the slice place IMO. But Avellino is good for what it is. I also liked that the thick crust square slice wasn't too greasy and had a nice crisp bottom. Btw, they are serving beer and wine now.

                                      1. manraysky Dec 29, 2009 08:19 PM

                                        All these positive reviews are making me want to try Avellino again. I went here about a month ago with my husband and found it really disappointing. I ordered a slice of pepperoni, and got a cheese slice that had a few pieces of pepperoni placed on top before being slid into the oven for a couple of minutes. The result was a decent slice of cheese pizza with some lukewarm pieces of pepperoni sitting on top. Since the texture of pepperoni changes a lot when it's cooked, it's pretty unsatisfactory to have it on a pizza with a "straight out of the fridge" texture.

                                        1. Melanie Wong Jun 13, 2012 05:05 PM

                                          A few months ago I popped into Pizzeria Avellino again in order to use the free wifi. Mid-afternoon, the large table was filled with adolescent boys and their laptops playing games with a few pies as their after-school snacks.

                                          The upskirt of the slice was a golden brown.
                                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/7075802995/

                                          I liked the pesto and olive slice better after knocking off the mushy black olive slices. Crust is still undersalted to my taste.
                                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                          Better, the Sicilian slice. Zesty, jammy tomato sauce, light crust with crunchy brown edges and does liberally with olive oil.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                                            c
                                            chocolatetartguy Jun 13, 2012 06:27 PM

                                            I went there several months ago at mid afternoon after an event at the Film Society. I had a slice of the breakfast pizza with egg and bacon which I liked a lot, but then I always like anything with bacon. I bought a whole pie to share later with Dr. Kayo. I think it was pepperoni and it was OK. I still much prefer Gioia SF and especially Gioia in Berkeley. I would return if I was over Presidio way. It seems to be very much a neighborhood hang.

                                          2. h
                                            hyperbowler Apr 11, 2014 08:59 AM

                                            The cheese slice and the mushroom slice were good for a quick bite.

                                            Some of the above photos show an outer crust folded over so much that it reduces the amount of toppings, but mine had the right balance. The crust had a good flavor. It was flexible enough to allow for eating while walking, but it lacked chewiness.

                                            I wouldn't go out of my way to come here, but for a bargain when in that area, they're worth it. I was stuffed after eating these two slices from their 18" pie.

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