Yesterday was my first time ever at Pizzeria Delfina. Unthinkable that this San Francisco Italian legend by which all other pizzerias in the Bay Area are measured has evaded me all this time. Opened in 2005 in an attempt to re-create the spirit of Naples, the place seems to be packed every minute it's open.
In one word, simply AWESOME!
Tiny space, adjacent to the Restaurant Delfina proper (open since 1998), 4 chefs running like hamsters, churning out perfect pizzas, and other delicious accoutrements non-stop all day long. Sitting at the counter in front of the little space they call kitchen, I felt jealous of the business these guys have, and yet I don't think I would want to work like that - these guys are athletes, man!
Their Salciccia (sausage) pizza was simply the best sausage pizza I'd ever had. Housemade fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions, mozzarella - perfect crispy thin crust, bright, fresh tomato sauce, super fresh melt-in-your-mouth clumps of sausage - I am going back! The special of the day - the mushroom pizza with cream sauce ("Hen of the Woods" mushrooms, fontina, panna, nepitella) was more expensive and not nearly as good (missing the "zing and zang" of the Salciccia).
Wine selection was decent and decidedly Southern Italy. About 10 red wines by the glass (plus whites and sparkling). I ordered an Aglianico, the leading red wine grape from Campania (for $11/glass) - it was nothing to write home about, a bit muddy and peppery, but with decent acidity which is hallmark of Italian wines, but nonetheless it went perfectly with the pizza. I think Sangiovese is a quintessential pizza wine, and a simple Chianti or two on the menu would have worked well. However, the wine selection is Southern Italian (heavily from Campania, where Naples is located), so thus they intentionally avoid Sangiovese / Tuscan based wines (or Umbrian, for that matter), for Neapolitan authenticity. And at any rate, Tuscany, Umbria, and Piedmonte would not be edgy enough for the hip-ish Mission neighborhood.
Spicy cauliflower with garlic, capers, breadcrumbs & Calabrian chilies, baked, and then pan-fried in butter - soft, crunchy, a little salty, with a bite from red pepper spice was great with a glass of peppery Aglianico.
A block away, I found the most excellent ice-cream place called Bi-Rite Creamery - with amazingly delectable and mind-bogglingly complex Salted Caramel ice-cream! And on the other end of the block - Tartine Bakery & Cafe, with mouth-watering cakes and baked goods. Needless to say, all 3 joints - Delfina, Bi-Rite, and Tartine have people lined up out the door. Good for them!