by Robert Lauriston Wednesday, March 15, 2006
At a tiny Delfina spinoff, pizza is optional, cannoli mandatory
I love pizza. It's my desert island dish, my last meal, my favorite snack. I will detour hours out of my way or volunteer for an unnecessary business trip to try a famous pie. When visiting hot spots like New York City, Chicago, or Rome, I'll happily eat it every day if my companions don't interfere.
So I'm happy as a Pepe's white clam pie at the big increase in quality and variety of pizza hereabouts recently. In the past two years, Christophe Hille brought us world-class Neapolitan-style pies at A16, Brian Sadigursky raised the bar for Chicago deep-dish at Little Star, and Charlie Hallowell built a whole cuisine around his wood-fired pizza oven at Oakland's Pizzaiolo.
Craig and Anne Stoll joined the trend last July by opening Pizzeria Delfina next door to their longtime Mission District destination, Delfina. The place is a self-conscious, upscale take on a classic hole-in-the-wall pizza joint: no-frills décor, mostly stainless steel and white tile, brightly lit, looking more hygienic than hip. Douglas Burnham, the designer, made clever use of the tiny space, arranging the kitchen so that the friendly, efficient staffers can go about their business easily even when the place is packed. Still, seating's quite limited -- 24 seats, including six small tables for two or three and eight stools at the counter (with great views of the oven action). Weather and space heaters allowing, sidewalk tables can hold another eight diners. The restaurant is popular and takes no reservations, so expect a wait.