Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dish on Dining: Pizzeria Delfina

Showcase for Pizza and More
2406 California St., San Francisco
Pacific Heights
PH: 415.440.1189
Open daily for lunch and dinner (except no lunch on Tuesday)
No reservations, major credit cards accepted
Web site

One thing that seems to be bucking the economic downturn is pizza. And that was fully evident when I visited Pizzeria Delfina awhile back with my friend Joe.

I’ve blogged about the original Pizzeria Delfina location in the Mission neighborhood, but this visit was to its second and newest location on California Street in the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood across town.

This larger location, brightly lit but still keeping with the funky flavor of the Mission spot, seems to be packed all the time. Joe and I arrived early for dinner on a Saturday night and there were already several names on the wait list. Luckily, our wait was only about 20 minutes because we were willing to sit at the long counter facing the prep stations.

The counter actually was a dream spot for me because I could see the sous chefs preparing the dishes, such as the large salads and meatball appetizers. Off in the back was the pizza station where the pizza makers were busy prepping several pizzas for that night’s dinner rush.

As we watched the chefs prepping the dishes, we noticed an interesting dish that looked almost like a long chunk of cheese. It caught both Joe’s and my attention, so we asked our waitress about it and she says it was the special appetizer of the day, “Mozzarella in Carozza” ($7).

This was a skewer of mozzarella cubes and bread, pan-fried with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and served up hot. The edges of the bread chunks were perfectly crisp and the mozzarella cubes were oozing when I bit into them. I enjoyed this but I have to say I don’t think it was the same thing we originally saw. (I think what we saw was the “Panzarotti,” which was also a special appetizer.) Still, our Mozzarella in Carozza was excellent.

Joe and I couldn’t decide on a pizza to share, so we each got our own. Joe decided quickly on the Clam Pie ($17) while I debated for awhile and ended up ordering the Prosciutto Pie ($17).

The Clam Pie came out with a very thin crust but puffy edges, which is how I remember Pizzeria Delfina’s pizzas. The edges are always slightly burnt in certain spots, like evidence that this is rustic and homemade.

I tried a slice of Joe’s Clam Pie and loved it. I couldn’t imagine a pizza with clams (for some reason I kept envisioning a pizza with clam shells on top), but the juices of the clams mixed in with the tomato sauce and were a brilliant combination. And while the center of the pizza can get soggy quickly, it was worth it.

My Prosciutto Pie looked really pretty when it arrived, with the fresh prosciutto slices and arugula elegantly draped in the center. While all the ingredients were a classic combination, my Prosciutto Pie turned out to be harder to eat. The prosciutto slices and the mozzarella cheese didn’t stick together and kept sliding off the pizza. Joe, however, loved it. We both decided that we should have switched pizza orders because we each loved the other person’s order.

After the pizza we were both pretty full, but I did want to try Pizzeria Delfina’s famous cannolis. Unfortunately, for some reason the cannolis never made it from Mission Street to California Street. This second location did not offer the popular cannolis on its dessert menu.

So instead I got the affogato ($4), which is the only way I really drink coffee. Affogato is the traditional Italian dessert of a scoop of vanilla ice cream with espresso.

It arrived in this unusual metal cup that looked strangely Moroccan to me. The espresso came separately and it was left up to me to pour as much of it as I wanted onto the ice cream.

When I ate the affogato, there was something off about it. The coffee was way too bitter for me, and it wasn’t as enjoyable as at other places where I’ve ordered affogato. So one thing I realized about affogato -- the coffee makes it or breaks it. In this case, the coffee didn't live up to its potential.

Despite the bitter coffee, I didn’t have any bitter aftertaste about my visit to Pizzeria Delfina’s second home. The pizzas are still nicely thin and filled with flavor and the menu of appetizers and salads seem to be more extensive than the Mission location. The only improvement I would say is to offer the cannolis here as well since it’s a signature dessert.

Otherwise, this new location demonstrates the high standards of its owner Craig Stoll, and I’m sure Pizzeria Delfina will have no problems weathering the economic storm.

Single guy rating: 3.75 stars (On the Rise)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Pizzeria Delfina on Urbanspoon


Cookie said...

I don't think I've ever had Clam Pie before but it sounds yummy! I've had Prosciutto Pie before and had similar problems as you. I ended up just using a fork and knife, which isn't as fun!

Juliek said...

Did the Mozzarella in Carozza look like chunks of sandwich? Looking for a recipe, but want one on the skewer like your pic!

Carolyn Jung said...

I am a fiend for clam pizza. I actually like it when the clam shells are put on the pizza. I think it helps keep the clams juicier. I have yet to try Pizzeria Delfino's version, but that photo sure makes me want to right now!

Single Guy Ben said...

Cookie, I did end up using a fork.

Juliek, I don't think the Mozzarella in Carossa was like mini sandwiches. The bread parts was a cube so doesn't make me think of a sandwich.

Carolyn, so they do have clam pizza with the shells! I'm not crazy then.

foodhoe said...

dang single guy, clamshells on a pizza sounds crazy! although I like clam on pizza, just not the soggy kind. the new location is closer to my work, so I really must check it out (still haven't been to either).