Restaurant Review: Pizzetta, San Francisco

Recently, Ruth has been interested in finding some good Italian style thin-crust pizza in San Francisco, and so on a friend’s recommendation we stopped by Pizzetta, a closet sized, super-cute little bistro out in the fog belt of the Richmond District.

Actually we stopped by twice. The first time there were people lined up outside and there was a 60 minute wait! But what do you expect from a place that serves up mostly organic, incredibly savory, and utterly delicious pizzas and salads in a no-frills, friendly atmosphere?

On a warm day, Pizzetta can seat (by my rough estimate) about 30 people – 18 inside, and 12 outside. That includes five at the small little counter that faces the entirely open kitchen. Find any seat that you can, and then once you’ve looked over their brief menu, send a representative from your group up to the counter to order, and make sure to have them pick up silverware and napkins on their way back to the table. Then, relax for a few minutes and bask in the rustic-country-meets-art-deco interior of warm yellow walls and stained glass lamps while you wait. If you get bored looking at the decor, you can always watch whats going on in the kitchen, which apart from the giant pizza oven, might be the kitchen of some liberal arts college cooperative — small, well stocked, and staffed with young Europeans who look like they spend their time outside the kitchen reading Kant and discussing post-structuralist critiques of modern society.

But before you can really decide if they are college students or simply cultivate the look, your food arrives. Maybe you’ve opted to get the artisanal cheese salad with organic radishes, country bread, and a couple of slabs of mild sheepsmilk cheese on a bed of organic greens; maybe you’ve just decided to order one of their weekly changing pizzas, and bask in the glory of fresh dough and amazing ingredients.

When we were there the menu included pizzas such as:

  • Rosie’s Farm Egg, Baby Shitake, Crecenza, and Prosciutto
  • Baby Bloomsdale Spinach, Red Onion and Gorgonzola
  • Roasted Graffitti Cauliflower, Meyer Lemon, and Pine Nuts
  • Rosemary, Fiore Sardo Sheep Cheese and Pine Nuts

    Or you can opt for a more mainstream pizza like Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil. The menu also offers a daily special side dish (when we went it was roasted organic asparagus in a vinaigrette sauce) as well as a calzone, a couple of salads, and a cheese board.

    The pizzas are delivered right out of the oven to you (lets face it, they only have to travel about 20 feet to get to your table) and they represent all that is good about Italian style pizza. Light, crispy dough, fresh, juicy, sweet tomato sauces, or savory herbs and cheese. The real test for me in any pizza is whether I am compelled to eat the crust, and let me tell you, there was not a crumb left after either of the pizzas we ordered (each is big enough to feed about one person). This was a striking difference from Pauline’s on Valencia, where Ruth and I went the week before, where the crust was leaden and dry, and by the end of the meal we had a sad looking pile of breadstick-like-things on the tray.

    Pizzetta is a restaurant where its better to bring your own wine if you’d like to drink with dinner. They offer 4 or 5 bottles of wine, including a Prosecco if you’re looking for something bubbly, all reasonably priced and most of them Italian. All are available by the glass as well. However, with a corkage fee of only $10 why not bust out that Barbaresco you’ve been saving, or stop by Wine Impression on California Ave. on your way out to the Richmond and get a nice California Sangiovese to have with dinner?

    The folks that staff this little hole-in-the-wall are friendly, but it tends to be a bit of a madhouse unless you’re there in off hours (see below), so be prepared for mostly a serve yourself environment. But its entirely worth it for the best pizza I’ve had in San Francisco without breaking the bank.

    Oh yeah — two other little additions: they serve my favorite Italian fizzy water (San Benedetto – green) and they make daily fresh desserts. We had a choice between a Sharfenberger flourless chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream or a blood orange upside down cake.

    How Much?: Two pizzas, a salad, dessert and coffee (no wine) ran us about $50.

    211 23rd Avenue (between California and Clement)
    San Francisco, CA 94121

    No reservations accepted. Parking can be tough in that area, especially on Thurs, Fri, and Saturday nights.

    Open Wednesday – Friday 5PM – 9PM, Saturday and Sunday 12PM – 9PM. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

    I recommend going for an early dinner, as the place gets totally packed later in the evening.