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  • August 1, 2006
  • News

The Best Restaurants by San Francisco Magazine

August 2006

With restaurants, as with empires, expansion is frequently a prelude to decline. But Craig Stoll of Delfina avoided this when he annexed the tiny space next door.
Pizzeria Delfina is a modest addition to a Mission district restaurant whose strength has always been simplicity. Stoll’s new place sticks to the formula. It doesn’t try to do too much (pizzas, salads, calzone), but what it does, it does very well.

Whereas Delfina has a full-fledged trattoria menu, from salmon salad to Tuscan ribs, its sidekick is for those in search of a casual meal. In Anthony Strong, Stoll found the perfect man to delegate the dough making to. His thin, crisp pizzas, mottled black on the bottom from their brief time in the oven, are as delicately dressed as anything this side of Victoria’s Secret. The best of them might be the Napoletana, topped with capers, olives, and anchovies but no cheese. How nice to eat a slice that doesn’t sag under its cargo when you lift it to your mouth.

Salads are similarly understated: eggplant caponata, roasted beets with ricotta salata. Choices are scrawled on a big blackboard, an invitation to grab a piece of chalk and write, “I will never order pineapple on pizza again.”

Like Delfina, the pizzeria is something of a destination restaurant. But it has the good sense not to act like one. And that might be what’s best about it. Even as its reputation reaches across the city, it still feels deeply rooted in the neighborhood.