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Cafe BaoNecci - Best Pizza in SF?

yanks26dmb Sep 22, 2011 01:59 PM

Been here a couple times in the past, and I'm looking forward to going back in a couple weeks. Admittedly, I haven't had pizza from every restaurant in San Francisco, but this place is unbelievable. Italian style pies with some of the best marscopone I've ever tasted. Has anyone else tried the pizza here? Any thoughts as to how it compares to some of the other joints (deflina, una, etc.) around town?

  1. h
    hyperbowler Aug 22, 2013 07:28 AM

    They're still slinging out great pizzas. Blondish, but very thin crispy crust with just enough stretchiness to hold each slice together. We really enjoyed the anchovy and caper pizza. The Funghi, with button mushrooms, was great but not as good as the porcini and arugula I've had before there and which only costs $1 extra.

    Entry level price is now $19, making their non-buffalo mozzarella Margherita the most expensive in SF to my knowledge. Looks like a $1 bumps you up to buffalo mozzarella.

    The $14 burrata with tomatoes wasn't especially good--- burrata was enormous but not very creamy/fresh, and the tomatoes were unripe. hmmm... I'm not sure I've ever had a mozzarella-related salad in North Beach (e.g., at L'Osteria del Forno or Vicoletto) that was anywhere near the quality you can get at SF/Cal-cuisine places (e.g., State Bird or Zuni).

    Any recommendations for the rest of the menu? The owners are from Tuscany, but the entrees and pastas don't seem to obviously reflect that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hyperbowler
      kellylee Aug 22, 2013 07:53 AM

      Speaking to the 'unripe tomato' point, I recently read in a beautiful cookbook called My Calabria that Italians don't like their tomatoes to be overly ripe. It is an interesting notion-- they would use the ripe tomatoes in sauce but use the less ripe ones in a salad. We loved a recent meal of three pizzas at Cafe BaoNecci but the salad was very basic.

      1. re: kellylee
        Robert Lauriston Aug 22, 2013 10:00 AM

        I don't know about Calabria, but I never had an unripe tomato in Rome or other parts of Italy I visited. They like their tomatoes ripe but they don't like them mushy, so for salads they use varieties that are firm when ripe. The variety that's most popular in Rome looks unripe to Americans because when dead ripe it's mostly green on the outside, though red inside. When it's red on the outside, it's seriously overripe.

        For sauce they use different varieties that aren't good for salad.

    2. h
      hyperbowler Jan 29, 2012 03:11 PM

      Last night, I shared a monte-bianco and a porcini and arugula pizza with another person. They were both fantastic. The monte-bianco is completely coated in prosciutto. I really appreciated that they put a big dollop of mascarpone in the center so that you can adjust your portion to taste. I enjoyed the porcini and arugula even more, making it my favorite pizza in SF next to Delfina's Napoletana.

      Note that the prices have increased quite a bit since they first opened. The monte-bianco is currently $19.95. That makes it the most expensive single serving pizza I've ever eaten, but well worth it.

      Has anyone tried the dessert pizzas?

      3 Replies
      1. re: hyperbowler
        saffrongold Jan 29, 2012 06:15 PM

        I tried the dessert pizza as part of the prixfixe Italian movie night. It was the same crust as the savory pizzas with mandolin slices of tart apple that cooked down to al dente in the oven. I am sorry that I don't remember the cheese that was the base, but it was more assertive than mozzarella or provolone. I don't like gimmicky pizza and was surprised at how much I liked it, especially since we had stuffed ourselves on entree pizzas beforehand. Worth a try for something different.

        1. re: saffrongold
          hyperbowler Jan 29, 2012 07:15 PM

          Oh, the table next to us had this and it what gorgeous--- the slices of apple curled up an inch or two above the pizza, and were so plentiful that it looked like a floral arrangement.

        2. re: hyperbowler
          Cynsa May 25, 2013 10:41 PM

          Tonight we shared the Monte Bianco pizza and the Pasta Arrabbiata, starting with BaoNecci's salad and a cup of the Zuppa Garfagnina, finishing with a double espresso and the Limone sorbetto. Perfection for each course. Great service.
          The Monte Bianco is my go to for thin crust and now I have only to work through the menu pizza by pizza.

        3. Robert Lauriston Sep 25, 2011 10:29 AM

          My long search for local Roman-style pizza is over. This is exactly like pizza in Rome and many other parts of Italy: very thin crust, quality tomato sauce and mozzarella, small enough that each person could eat one.

          North Beach on weekend nights sure has gotten awful.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            grayelf Sep 26, 2011 05:49 PM

            So it's Roman style, eh? Good to know. Perhaps I can just give up trying to like Neapolitan style.

            Re NB "scene" you could try going by at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. We've done that the last few trips and it's a great way to spend an hour or two, before the hordes arrive :-).

            1. re: grayelf
              rworange Sep 26, 2011 07:23 PM

              No pizza, but I like going at opening in the morning. That's when the Italian neighbors show up and it has a nice vibe.

              1. re: rworange
                little big al Sep 26, 2011 08:57 PM

                But alas there are no more "mornings" at Bao Necci. They have been tweeking he hours and menu since taking over. I particularly miss the morning 'bocconcini" (little soft rolls with a slice of ham, a slice of perfectly boiled egg and some mayo.) But for now, no breakfast for me, hours evening only except for Saturday.

              2. re: grayelf
                Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2011 10:07 AM

                The Web site says they start serving at 4pm M-F, so going by at 3 might be a mistake except on Saturdays, when they open at noon.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  grayelf Sep 28, 2011 03:39 PM

                  Thanks for the tip, that must be a change since our last trip in March. I guess the afternoon pizza snack is out :-(.

                  1. re: grayelf
                    mange2te Dec 27, 2012 09:03 AM

                    We visited it for dinner last night and they now open at 5pm; we sat down at 530 and there was plenty of space/no waiting.
                    As many have posted, the pizza is excellent---with a very crispy crust---thinner than NY style for sure. I had the Cotto E Funghi (prosciutto and mushroom)---delicious. The prosciutto melted in my mouth and was sliced very thinly. Cost for a personal-sized pizza (no slices) is $15.95. Service was excellent and you get to see/walk thorough the kitchen when you visit the rest room.

                    1. re: mange2te
                      Robert Lauriston Dec 27, 2012 10:20 AM

                      Prosciutto cotto is cooked ham, so it's much more tender than what we call prosciutto (raw-cured prosciutto crudo).

            2. Robert Lauriston Sep 23, 2011 08:54 AM

              Huh, that's the old Danilo Bakery. I missed the change.

              Caffe BaoNecci
              516 Green St, San Francisco, CA

              10 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                little big al Sep 23, 2011 05:46 PM

                Suum Quique (to each his own) was carved over the top of my favorite childhood bar, but I would say Bao Necci is my favorite pizza. It is no cheap date, and the crust is too thin for some, but I like everything about the place. I was a fan of the old establishment, and generally believe that change is bad, but Walter , Stephania e figlii have created a real Italian place in North Beach. One Thursday a month there is a pizza and movie deal for $30. Worth looking into.

                1. re: little big al
                  Melanie Wong Sep 23, 2011 10:50 PM

                  Here's a photo of the cheese slice

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    boris_qd Sep 24, 2011 09:39 AM

                    I'll have to try it for myself but the photo doesn't look that appealing. Gummy looking cheese and a dry cracker crust? What did you think of it?

                    1. re: boris_qd
                      grayelf Sep 24, 2011 10:02 AM

                      FWIW the whole pies are rather different animals than the slices. Here's a shot of the pizza rustica from April for comparo.

                      1. re: boris_qd
                        Melanie Wong Sep 27, 2011 07:10 PM

                        I liked the tomato sauce very much. But that thin crust is not well-suited for serving as a slice. I haven't tried a whole pie yet.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2011 07:18 PM

                          There were no slices on the menu. They don't slice that kind of pie in Italy, for that they make big pans of pizza with a thicker crust.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            little big al Sep 27, 2011 09:04 PM

                            That is an old picture. When they first took over there was more emphasis on foccacia and pizza by the slice. Now it is the more "Roman" style (I don't pretend to know the difference between pizza regions, I'm just trusting you Robert). But still my favorite, however I must emphasize, at about $19 for the top of the line Monte Bianco (serves one Little Big Al) no cheap date.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                    rworange Sep 24, 2011 10:16 AM

                    Reported in in 2009.

                    I swear somewhere you got into a conversation on one of the threads about the joint. It has the oldest oldest functioning bakery ovens in the United States

                    They've been moving more to the cafe side. The site claims they now do a lot of Tuscan dishes.

                    1. re: rworange
                      Robert Lauriston Sep 24, 2011 10:24 AM

                      Are they open as a bakery or cafe during the day? The Web site says they open at 4 M-F and noon Saturday and gives the impression it's strictly a pizzeria.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        rworange Sep 24, 2011 10:43 AM

                        Nope, they are still both. IMO, the cafe part isn't comfortable, but they have been adding more dishes to their menu over the years. They show Italian movies on Thursday nights.

                        I liked them from the beginning. IMO they are better than Danillo's (and I liked that bakery). They always have the special holiday baked goods such as zepole on St. Joseph's Day

                        Patricia Unterman shared the opinion of the OP


                        "I’d put Baonecci’s pizza up against any. Their crust is white, thin, sweet, almost crackery — crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle and full of character.

                        The king of pies here is the monte bianco ($15.95), baked with tomato sauce and a little creamy mozzarella, then paved with moist slices of top-quality imported prosciutto and a scoop of mascarpone"

                  3. wolfe Sep 22, 2011 03:55 PM

                    Greyelf liked it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wolfe
                      grayelf Sep 23, 2011 08:17 AM

                      Yeah, I did and still do. I think we've been four times on our trips and it's always been excellent. To my taste, the best pizza I've tried and completely pretention free which is a bonus. And we now have some contenders (finally!) in Vancouver FWIW.

                      The mascarpone is really good there. I wonder what brand they use.

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