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Pizzeria Delfina

March 13, 2007

Pizzeria Delfina, as its name suggests, is the pizzeria located next door to the extremely popular Mission District Cal-Italian restaurant, Delfina. The main restaurant Delfina has garnered a wide range of praise over the years, and one day (when we can manage to get a reservation!), we hope to review it here. For this post, though, we will stick to the associated pizzeria next door, which is a separate operation. The pizzeria is a bustling, cramped environment, featuring just a few tables, as well as a handful of bar seats that look in on the ovens. Pizzeria Delfina gets a lot of overflow hype from the main restaurant next door, and so there are very often waits at the pizzeria. You may want to show up early to snag a seat quickly, but another nice option is to eat at an off-peak hour, since the pizzeria is open continuously most days, straight through the hours between lunch and dinner.

Although the real draw here are the pizzas, there are a variety of starters and side dishes that round out the menu. We had the roast fennel soup as a starter:

tb_pizzdelfina_fennel_soup.JPG

Except for a few soft crouton chunks (which really added nothing to this dish other than a different texture), this soup was a straight-up puree. A couple of dashes of chili oil lent a small bit of kick to the immediate local area of the oil, but it did not have much of an effect on the soup as a whole. The smooth fennel flavor came in clearly, though. This was a clean, mild starter — okay, but not particularly memorable. It wasn’t bad, but we probably wouldn’t order it again.

The main event of the day was the broccoli raab pizza, which Short Exact shared with a friend:

tb_pizzdelfina_broccoli_raab.JPG

One brief note on the size of the pizza. These are officially intended to be individual pizzas; Short Exact has a pretty average appetite, though, and partly because some of the crusts are thicker than you might expect, we’ve never actually been able to finish one of these pizzas alone. Our preference is to share a pizza with a friend, supplemented by a couple starters.

The pizza included fresh ricotta, mozzarella, broccoli raab, and oven dried tomatoes. It was a very tasty pizza, but our feelings about the execution of this pie remain mixed. From the “California perspective”, this pizza was a success — the use of high quality ingredients (including the very nice ricotta) gives the pie very clean, fresh flavors and really does elevate the experience. However, the actual execution of the pizza itself was less masterful. While the crust was appropriately blistered, it is a quite a bit thicker than what you might expect. As you can see in the image, there is a lot of broccoli raab on the pizza, and the large quantity of toppings is what necessitates the thicker crust. The problem here is that while the outer crust is relatively thick, the thickness decreases very substantially as you move towards the center of the pie, so each slice exhibits a “sagging” or “drooping” effect, when the crust becomes too thin to withstand the weight of the toppings. The delicate balance required here was not achieved, and the crust was not up to the task. The pizza is still delicious, thanks to the good ingredients, but Pizzeria Delfina still has some lessons to learn about how to create a truly superior pie.

Still, this is a good restaurant, all in all. On our last visit, the service was courteous and the delivery of dishes was timed well, even with the full restaurant. The only weak point was the long time required to receive the check. The small space gives Pizzeria Delfina a somewhat hectic atmosphere, and since the main traffic is all located in the corridor directly behind the bar, the counter seats tend to feel especially hectic. And even though the execution of the pizzas is not perfect (by no means is this the best pizza in the Bay Area, or even in San Francisco), the food is still tasty. Pizzeria Delfina is not a restaurant we visit all that frequently, but we do like to keep it in our rotation to visit occasionally.

RATING:

COST:

3611 18th Street (near Guerrero St.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: 415.437.6800
Hours: Mon, 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm; Tues-Thurs, 11:30 am – 10:00 pm; Fri, 11:30 am – 11:00 pm; Sat, 12:00 noon – 11:00 pm; Sun, 12:00 noon – 10:00 pm.

Cuisine: Pizza
Neighborhood: Mission

How to get there: Pizzeria Delfina is four blocks from the 16 Street Mission BART station. Muni lines: 14, 22, 26, 33, 49, and J.

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4 comments

  1. You know, that’s a great point about topping to crust distribution ratios. I never though about pizzas like that before.


  2. i just tried Pizzeria Delfine for the 1st time this weekend and agree w/ your review – the pizza is good for a neighborhood joint (and it’s proximity to the 16th St Bart stop makes it accessible to many neighborhoods.)

    we noticed quite a bit of variability between the pizzas being sent out. add that to your crust comments and you get a pizza that could range anywhere from good to great.


  3. Hmm, very interesting. I always like to taste the sister restaurants (like Out the Door for the Slanted Door) before trying the critically acclaimed restaurants, to see if the hype surrounding acclaimed restaurant is reliable or if it is smoke and mirrors. Geez, I wish Pizzeria Delfina was more reliable though.


  4. The sister restaurant take is an interesting one, but I think that Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina are sufficiently different that this could be a misleading approach.

    The Pizzeria isn’t super reliable, but it’d be very unlikely that you’d get something bad here. It’s also a matter of what your priorities are. If you’re really just interested in getting a delicious pizza, you probably will be very happy with this place. Some people don’t care so much about the construction of the pizza; for other people, sloppy construction will either make or break the deal. I do like Pizzeria Delfina, but I guess it just doesn’t wow me enough to warrant more than a very occasional visit.



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