Arinell Pizza

July 21, 2006


The debate about which type of pizza reigns supreme, New York thin crust vs. Chicago deep dish, is an old and tired one; in fact, it’s thought to date back to the Neanderthals. Equally tired is the assault on the pitiful and deplorable state of pizza quality in California, constantly raised by displaced East Coasters, who (we’d like to note) nonetheless chose to give up the superior pies of their native homeland to move to a state with other important attributes, such as decent weather. Moreover, there will always be New Yorkers who will claim and give extensive arguments about why Arinell’s Pizza, despite the “New York Style” proclamation on its entrance sign, is most certainly not authentic New York pizza, and why their favorite pie joint in _______________ (fill in your favorite New York City borough here) is vastly superior, by at least seven orders of magnitude.

But you know what? We’re not in New York. Get over it. And quite frankly, some of us couldn’t care less.

We’re being a little harsh. Short Exact actually does care about authenticity, as you’ve most likely picked up if you’ve read any of our other reviews. Having said that, Short Exact is a native of the Bay Area and doesn’t feel as strongly about the superiority of the New York slice. We enjoy both Chicago deep dish and New York thin crust, and even…(wait for it)… pizzas with “California” ingredients, such as feta cheese. Nonetheless, when we have a hankering for a true New York slice, we often head to Arinell’s, for a more-or-less authentic rendition of this New York staple. One day we had such a hankering, and so we ordered a classic Neapolitan cheese slice,


which should, no doubt, gain the approval of any diehard New Yorkers who might be reading this, bereft as it is of any ingredients that might not belong on a “real” thin crust slice. So, how did the slice pan out? Well, the crust was rather crisp, but it did not have the blistered effect we were hoping for. Nonetheless, it was delightfully foldable, as any New York slice should be. The cheese is real deal mozzarella, and it melded well with the sauce. No sugar is added to the sauce, so it’s not too sweet — and no salt is added beyond the pinch needed for the dough, so the flavor here is about right, but it was too mellow. We found the marinara to be bland, and so the slice did not have the robust flavor that it could have. Overall, though, it’s a very dependable slice of pizza.

Ambience? Well, as you might expect, there’s close to none. There is some counter seating, but that’s it. Generally, it’s a much better idea to either take out a whole pizza, or maybe take a stroll over to Dolores Park and enjoy your slice there. The employees here are often on another planet due to their pot-smoking tendencies, and so it’s not at all rare for the smell of pot to mingle with (or, sometimes, overwhelm) the wafting pizza aromas. But what do you care? If you’re at Arinell’s, you’re not after a 5-star dining experience: you’re after a solid slice of New York pizza. And that’s what you’ll get.



509 Valencia Street (near 16th St.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: 415.255.1303
Hours: Mon-Wed, 11:30 am – 10:00 pm; Thurs-Sat, 11:30 am – 12 midnight; Sun, 1:30 pm – 10:00 pm.

Cuisine: Pizza
Neighborhood: Mission

How to get there: Arinell Pizza is easily accessible by BART, located just 1 long block west of the 16 Street Mission station. For Muni riders, Arinell is 3 long blocks east of the J line, and is very close to bus lines 14, 22, 26, 33, 49, and 53.

Note: This review was prompted by a visit to the Arinell Pizza in the Mission, but there is another outpost in Berkeley, located at 2109 Shattuck Avenue, near Addison St., right next to the Downtown Berkeley BART station. When in Berkeley, we’d rather go to the Cheeseboard or to Zachary’s — and we promise that both these restaurants will get reviews at some point in the future — so Short Exact has not actually been to the Berkeley Arinell’s. Therefore, we can’t vouch for it, but we’ve heard from friendly sources that the pies there are comparable to those found at the Valencia location. In any case, we thought we’d mention the other location, even if, strictly speaking, this review only applies to the San Francisco outpost.



  1. I’ve never been to Arinell, but I have heard from many people it’s their favorite and closest to “real” New York pizza, as you say. But the question remains: Is it as greasy as the real deal? 🙂

  2. Haha, good question, Sean! This is exactly when my kneejerk Californian comes into play; I personally feel that excessive grease is one bit of authenticity that is best left in New York. 🙂

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