Pizzeria Delfina

Work sucks.

Not because I don’t enjoy what I do. (I actually love it.) And not because I’m lazy. (I’m only moderately lazy.)

Work sucks because it keeps me from writing reviews in a timely manner.

Case in point: I had dinner at Pizzeria Delfina last Tuesday night. Here it is Sunday, and I’m just now getting around to writing about it.

It seems like every other person in San Francisco lists Delfina in their Top 10—hell, their Top 3 if we’re just talking pizza—but whenever I thought about going, I was too hungry to wait in line. This time, however, I had a patient partner in crime. My wise, wonderful friend Julie.

We showed up early, so the wait was doable. (If you’ve never been there, the space is tiny. Just like a pizzeria should be.) We lucked out and got a table by the window after a short ten minutes. It gave us just enough time to start salivating with anticipation at every dish that passed by.

The best/worst thing about Pizzeria Delfina is the painful paradox of choice. (Props to Barry Schwarz.) (P.S. I’m not really complaining. I’m just trying to sound literate and clever.) Choice is something I’m simply not used to having anymore. Usually, I scan the menu for the solitary item I can order, then thank my lucky stars if it’s something that actually sounds reasonably appealing. But Pizzeria Delifina’s menu is another beast all together. The antipasti list is friendly and extensive. And five out of nine pies are vegetarian. (Six if you ask them to leave the anchovies off the Napoletana.) I felt like a kid in a candy store—a candy store drizzled with warm olive oil.

We started off right with the Warm Marinated Olives. Say that slowly…warm, marinated olives. Even the words feel good in your mouth. The reality is even better, with thin curls of orange zest lending a flavor to the olives that’s both fresh and mellow. (Helpful hint: Don’t let them take the dish away when you’re done. You’ll want to keep the warm oil to dip your crust in later.)

Then we had the Spicy Cauliflower with capers, garlic, and Calabrian chilies. God bless ‘em, they’re not afraid to roast the shit out that cauliflower, which is exactly the way I like it. The capers added a nice little accent to every bite.

We also ordered the Fresh Delta Asparagus with sieved egg and lemon vinaigrette. The asparagus was done Goldilocks right—not too mushy, not too raw—and the green brought a bright hit of spring to the table.

After a considerable amount of debate, we decided to go classic on the pizza and order the Margherita with Mozzerella di Bufala. (Runners-up included the Panna, with tomato sauce, cream, basil and shaved parmigiano and the Broccoli Rabe with ricotta, oven-dried tomatoes and mozzarella.) The crust was heaven, bubbled and crisp, and the flavors were well-balanced. My only complaint was that the cheese was a little tough, like the pizza had been sitting out for a while. That certainly didn’t stop me from eating the entire pie and washing it down with a ridiculously reasonably priced glass of Farnese Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. ($4.75 a glass, $18.00 a bottle.) I was ecstatic to see it on the menu. That’s been my go-to table wine since I first had it years and years ago at a place called Montage in Portland, Oregon. I used to buy it by the case. For an easy-drinkin’, inexpensive red table wine, you can’t go wrong with Farnese.

One last item to order: The Bellwether Ricotta Cannoli. Next to donut holes, cannolis are my greatest weakness. They’re one part childhood comfort food (my mom used to make them from scratch—always with chocolate chips, never with that nasty candied fruit crap) and one part adult indulgence. Even a bad cannoli is a good cannoli, and a good cannoli is transcendent. I didn’t actually see God when I ate this one, but I think I heard him in the back, chatting up a cute bike messenger. Which is close enough for me.

Veggie friends, we’ve got a home at Pizzeria Delfina. And with a little creativity ordering off the antipasti menu, our vegan pals can join the fun, too.

Phew. I feel better now.

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11 Comments

Filed under On the Cheap, Reviews

11 responses to “Pizzeria Delfina

  1. sam

    and you didn’t even order the best salad in the world – hearts of romaine with green goddess-like and hazlenut dressing which blows me away every time!

  2. Wendi

    I am so damned relieved to hear this! I love both Delfina and the pizzeria. Love. Love. Love. Jen and I used to always go there early when we lived around the corner. xo

  3. Pizza margarita is a great barometer with which to judge pizza quality. The lines could be worse too, I’ve heard of people waiting 2 hours for a pie here in NY

  4. Cauliflower is a staple of the Farmers Market almost all year in the Bay Area and so I am always looking for more ways to use it. A roasted slab is good and easy. Indian cuisine, of course, is a friend of cauliflower.

    Your post is inspiring me to try new experiments with cauliflower salads. I tried one last weekend in which I roasted the cauliflower until the edges were brown, then tossed it with white wine vinegar, olive oil, capers and some herbs. The result was pretty good. Do you know if the cauliflower salad is a “regular” on the Pizzeria Delfina menu?

  5. I’m pretty sure it’s a regular dish there. Your version sounds fantastic– I’ll have to try it. I usually make mine with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and curry powder. Tossed and roasted. Yummy.

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