Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Impressions: Pizzeria Delfina

3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 437-6800

Day 2 of my San Francisco Pizza Bonanza begins with Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission District.

(all photos by Adam Lindsley unless otherwise noted)

The place was packed when my dining companion Christa and I arrived around 1:00 in the afternoon. In attendance at the bar was actor Tom McGowan; if you don't know the name, then you must surely know his face:

(Photo: theatermania.com)

Anyway, on with the food.

Ordered two pies here. First up, naturally, was the Margherita ($12.50), the litmus test for any high-end pizzeria. And Pizzeria Delfina's was awesome.

Delfina uses a gas oven, but somehow they manage to char their crusts better than any gas oven I've ever seen. The perfect thinness at the center of the pie becomes supremely puffy on the outer rim, with big tasty black blisters popping up everywhere. You'd swear this pie was cooked in a wood oven, but miraculously, it wasn't. Go figure.

(photo by Christa Engelskirch)

I loved the sauce on this pizza. It has a slight sweetness to it, more so than a tomato's natural sweetness, and I enjoyed that. It also feels light, and pairs well with the airy crust. The smooth, soft mozzarella (which, incidentally, the also sell in 4-ounce quantities for eight bucks) was easy to bite into and clearly of a high quality; it had a nice high-fat-content-milk flavor to it.

One of the day's specials was the Purgatorio ($15), which swapped out the Margherita's tomato sauce for one with a light spiciness to it, and added several large shavings of pecorino-romano and two farm eggs cracked over the pie halfway through its time in the oven. The flavor of the runny yellow yolks dominated the flavor palate of this pizza, and made for an interesting combination with the mild spice of the sauce; it almost tasted like huevos rancheros. I enjoyed the pie, but I couldn't eat it every day (as opposed to the Delfina Margherita, which I could eat every day).

Special note must also be made of the service here. As in Pizzaiolo over in Oakland, the staff at Delfina knows how to attend to their patrons, and not once did I feel like we had been forgotten in the sea of other diners. They were also very accommodating with Christa's request for an unsweetened iced tea: since they had none, they brewed her a pot of fresh tea and provided her with a tall glass of ice. Problem solved. (They charged her five bucks for that tea, but that's beside the point).

Apart from the bill (which was pricier than I thought it would be), I really enjoyed my Pizzeria Delfina experience, particularly their Margherita. I also got to meet two fellow pizza fanatics by the names of Jason and Alicia from Santa Cruz. Jason, a New York native, sang praises for the pies at Grimaldi's, as well as those at Lombardi's (when they're having a good day). They too were on a bit of a San Francisco pizza adventure, and had made plans to hit Emilia's in Berkeley that night (which I'll be trying tomorrow). Good luck, guys!

Coming later: Pizzeria Picco.




  1. great review of an iconic SF pizza. great pics too. love how they do their condiments as a side plate. Emilia's is awesome, get ready for a Lombardi's like experience. and picco....heaven sent. you need to try my pies if you have time, drop me a line. http://caseyspizzas.com

  2. Hi Casey, sorry I couldn't try your pies this trip; time was very, very limited. So you do catering, and cook from home?

  3. hey no problem. I am now doing "in your home" pizza catering. you supply the oven, i make you the pies. hoping to do a pizza making demo as well. let me know the next time you're coming to the bay, i'll arrange a pizza tasting event just for you.

  4. Interesting business! I will definitely let you know next time in town. My curiosity has been successfully piqued!

  5. I love Delfina! Next time you are in SF try Delarosa on Chestnut. http://www.everythingthecity.com/?p=530

  6. Pizzeria Delfina is very delicious pizza.