Naples, Italy is the birth place of pizza. From its humble origins as street flatbread, its risen to become a hotly debated topic between purists who only consume the classic thin crust Margherita and the American hybridist who fawn over the Chicago style deep dish carb monsters. Furthermore, California pizza became a style in its own right with Wolfgang Puck’s Spago initiating a new era of thin crusty pizzas topped with multicultural ingredients like pineapple, eggs and anything in season. This list provides a superb reference for those in San Francisco who want a slice of the best pies available.
1 Una Pizza Nepoletana
Anthony Mangieri is the owner and pizzaman of this temple to the classic Neopolitan thin-crust pizza. Many New Yorkers cried when Mr. Mangieri left for San Francisco. Many followed him here. For purists and devotees, this is the best place for pizza in the United States. There is usually a line prior to the 5PM opening and a 30-40 minute wait until the dough runs out. Takeout is rarely available. There are only 5 items on the menu: the classics, Marinara and Margherita, and then slight variations like the Bianco (white pizza), Filetti (fresh tomatoes) and Ilaria (smoked mozzarella). Each of these are truly perfect combinations of the very best ingredients. However, it’s the crispy, brick-oven charred yet still pliable dough that makes this a haven for the perfect pie. From purity comes flavor clarity.
210 11th St
2 Zero Zero
Add another notch in pizza proprietor Bruce Hill’s belt. Mario Batali claims that Picco’s (located in Larkspur Marin) is his favorite place for pizza on the west coast. 00 brings in the umami-flavored char flakes to those who wish to stay in the city. Zero Zero refers to the high quality type of flour (00) used to make pizza dough. Generously spaced to seat around 150 people, 00 is a place to not only enjoy the signature charred pizzas like the Geary (manila clams and bacon!) or the Castro (the signature house made sausage) but also to have one of the signature antipasti like the Arancini or stuffed squash blossoms.
826 Fulsom St
3 Pizzeria Delfina
As the little brother next door to Italian powerhouse Delfina (with only about 30 seats indoors and outdoors included), Pizzeria Delfina shines in its own right as a fantastic casual pizzeria. Pizzaiolo Anthony Strong maintains that the key to smooth but supple pizza dough comes from the way one kneads it with care. The bubbly crust are perfectly crisp and blackened. The pies change almost daily with offerings to showcase what’s in season and at the farmer’s markets. The clam pie is delightfully briney but balanced and the runny fried egg topping is a must try.
True to its namesake, Flour+water focuses on the integrity of pasta and pizza dough. Each morning, fresh dough is made from the finest 00 flour. The pizzas are then cooked in a Italian wood-fired oven and reflects Chef Thomas McNaughton’s California cuisine background. The toppings are seasonal and range from the classics like arugula to the creative like egg or summer squash. This has been wildly popular since it’s opening in 2010, so reservations are recommended and even then there may be a wait until one is seated.
2401 Harrison St
5 Little Star Pizza
For consumers who want a little bit of everything, Little Star bridges the gap between deep dish and thin crust. The Chicago style deep dish crust is coated with cornmeal to prevent a soggy bottom. To complete the gluttonous deep dish style are loads of toppings, layers upon layers of fresh tomatoes, pesto, chicken, anything and everything you can imagine. The thin crust option is more reserved and delicious in its own right with a crispy, bubbly crust. There are three different lively locations in the bay area to ensure everyone gets a taste.
846 Divisadero St (415)441-1118
400 Valencia Street (415)551-78271175
Solano Ave (510)526-7827