Thursday, August 20, 2009
SF Notes: Pizzaiolo
If you ever find yourself in Oakland, or San Francisco, looking for a place to eat, I cannot recommend Pizzaiolo enough. This was my second visit. The first, four years ago fueled an obsession that stuck with me.
Walking distance from the BART in a fun neighbourhood, the place is usually packed.
Four of us went this time and ordered a selection of items to share. We started (and kept going) with bread from Acme bread company. So addictive, chewy goodness.
Off the antipasti menu, we had Blue Heron Farm little gems Caesar, Hand stretched mozzarella with spicy gypsy peppers, little yellow beans and salsa rustica and Padron peppers and okra from the wood oven with seas salt and olive oil.
I had been dubious about the choice of Caesar salad (how good can a Caesar salad be??) but it was the best caesar I have ever had; lots of anchovy and garlic. The hand stretched mozzarella was decadent and the yellow bean salad a nice change from a usual accompaniment of basil and tomatoes. As for the Padrone peppers, well they are always a hit with their smokey sweet spiciness and the okra was a surprisingly delicious addition.
From the Primi, we ordered Spaghetti with Manila clams, housemade sausage and hot pepper. Perfect al dente pasta with just the right amount of sauciness. The clams were nicely done, no hint of rubbery toughness.
From the Pizze menu, we ordered two items. For me, the pizza is what makes this place so special. Their beautiful wood oven yields crusts with just the right balance of crispy and chewy with a hint of charred smokiness. They also have a light hand with the toppings, so the pizza do not end up overladen and soggy. The rapini and housemade sausage and the wild arugula, prosciutto and grana with an egg cracked on top were our choices. I wish i could have ordered them all.
Amazingly, we stilled had room for dessert and split an order of panna cotta with roasted nectarines and wild blackberries and one of chocolate walnut cream cake with espresso caramel sauce. Both desserts were well executed. The panna cotta was a little soft, but that was more than compensated for by the roasted nectarines intense flavour and natural sweetness.
We shared a bottle of Old Vines Zinfandel from Sausal Winery that one of my dining companions had brought and I started with a delicious tequila cocktail. The bill was roughly 40$ each.