CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Baby Girl (Pizzeria Delfina -- San Francisco, CA)

I waited very patiently through the gestation period, but you bet your ass that as soon as Pizzeria Delfina opened her glorious doors, I was there.

Jon and I arrived to a small line (but a line nonetheless) on their first day of service. When the doors opened at noon, We rushed to seats at the counter for prime viewing pleasure, threw some flowers at Annie as a congratulations gesture (which, in retrospect, must have seemed like an assault attempt considering the ferocity with which it was done) and got to looking at our porn menus.

The server was sweet and friendly in true Delfina style, and we were totally in our element sitting at the counter. We had a great view of all the vittles coming out of the kitchen, and what's more, we got to kick it with the funk-o-licious Melissa and Michael, who happened to be seated next to us at the bar.

The staff said one pizza would serve one and a half people, so we decided to get two and take some leftovers home. We also decided to get the insalata tricolore, and a bottle of wine. Nothing better than a downing a bottle of wine at noon on a Sunday.

The salad was great. It was composed of arugula, endive and raddichio, three things that Jon loves and I like. Dressed up all pretty with a nice vinaigrette and some parm, they became greens that I, too, loved.

Jon also had some of the house cured anchovies (which he affectionately refers to as "Craig's anchovies." And then I call him a dork...). He loves these so much that I'm actually worried that he might leave me for them.

Now as for the pizza, well, slap my ass and call me Sally but this is some damn good pie. We used the almighty Margherita as our gauge. Once I tasted the crust, I knew that Pizzeria Delfina had wrapped her little ball and chain around me. The crust was perfect: elastic, crispy and chewy in all the right places and, in what was my favorite birthmark -- a nice smattering of salt. This salt is the perfect complement to the sweet, tangy tomato sauce. Cover this bitch up with some creamy fresh mozzarella and you've got just about the most perfect disc of tastiness on this earth.

The salsiccia has all of the stuff above plus onions, red peppers and housemade sausage. I dig sausage, and theirs did not disappoint.

Our wine was a $15 bottle of Montepulciano. No, that's not a typo. $15 a BOTTLE. You could get college drunk on that if you wanted to. The only difference being is that this wine is actually good. Really. I'd go so far as to say GREAT.

We traded a glass of this stuff for a piece of the clam pie that Michael and Melissa had, despite the fact that we had just met them moments before (dude, don't give me that look -- you know I'm a slut). The clam pie is made without cheese, which may seem like sacrilege to some, but the salty, chewy bivalves give you all the love you need.

We ended with a cannoli filled with all kinds of goodness, including Bellwether ricotta, which I bathe in from time to time. It's then rolled in pistachios. Total eating time for this treat: 2.011 seconds.

Public Service Announcement: Pizzeria Delfina also does one item "in padella" every night. Among these are housemade sausage, eggplant parmigiana, mussels, etc. We, unfortunately, have yet to try any of these having been altogether too intoxicated with the visions of pizza dancing in our heads.

We returned the following Saturday with Jon's parents who were in town visiting. I was dubious that we'd get in since it was the first Saturday of service and they don't take reservations. Fortunately, the nice weather kept peeps out in the parks until the last vestige of daylight so we were as good as gold. Within twenty minutes of sitting down, the whole restaurant was packed and there were names on the board for the next open tables (including a party of 8, which is just absolutely ridiculous when you consider the size of this place AND the fact that the larger Delfina doesn't seat parties larger than 6). I think the busy factor has been overwhelming -- they had to close their first Wednesday during lunch to regroup, and when we ate at Delfina on the following Sunday (one week after opening) we heard they had run out of pizza by 8:45. I guess 200 pizzas for less than nine hours isn't enough. Christ! People really like this pizza...

We ordered everything above. Except the wine. Instead, we got a red Lacryma Christi wine, which had a nice smokiness that went perfectly with our pizzas. Plus, Lacryma Christi means "Tears of Christ" so what's not to love?

We repeated our previous visit's order and added in some fresh stretched mozzarella and a broccoli rabe pizza.

The mozzarella is the same sexy, chewy love that you can get next door at my girl, Delfina. Perfect as can be.

The broccoli rabe pizza has the namesake veggie plus Bellwether ricotta (no sauce). The broccoli rabe is the perfect lover for the ricotta and vice versa. The creamy smoothness of the cheese balances the bitterness of the vegetable nicely.

We also got two other desserts in addition to the cannoli. Because the cannoli and the gianduja biscotti are the only desserts that are always on the menu, the two we ordered were in limited supply. We got a strawberry crostata rustica and a lemon budino, and the last two orders of each at that. Due to the popularity of those two particular desserts, it was only 8:45 when we cleaned them out.

The crostata was delicious. The strawberry was spread over the bottom crust like a dense layer of jam, with more crust latticed on top. This top crust had crunchy sugar crystals. The flavor was crazy pure, and it was not overly sweet which made me extremely happy. The lemon budino was by far the favorite dessert on the table, though. A budino is like a dense pudding, and I do love my pudding. It was topped with some lightly sweetened whipped cream, and I almost didn't see what it looked like with four spoons flying so furiously onto the plate.

And, because we couldn't stay away, we tried doing it take out style with some friends this week. We threw a quattro formaggio into the mix, and we were very happy with the results. The pizza came home nicely, and still tasted good cold the next day. The depth that the four different cheeses gave to the 'za (for those of us from Boston), captured my heart and I think on my next visit that I'll be hard pressed to choose between the four cheese and the margherita. Pretty soon I'm going to need a side of valium with the pizza in order to deal with the stress that is involved in making that choice.

The only pizza we haven't tried is the Napoletana, which is sauceless as is traditional and covered with anchovies and the like, which is also traditional. Next time.

So, while I could tell you that it sucks so that I wouldn't have to endure any lines and I could experience total dining nirvana, my conscience has the better of me. It's wonderful, delicious and everything I had hoped, dreamed and known it would be. Because, baby, those folks behind Delfina know how to do a restaurant -- it's as close to a guarantee you can get in this world. I'll see you in line.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art"
--La Rochefoucauld


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goddamn! Are you saying that as I arrive in the city early morning on a Sunday from somewhat of a culinary wasteland (except for Thai and Japanese; Guam is wonderful in a lot of ways, but there's not a lot of farm-fresh produce) I can eat myself stupid at both Bocadillos AND Pizzeria Delfina before heading off to the East Bay to see Mom? I'm drooling. *Everywhere.*

2/08/2006 9:01 PM  

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