If I were to close my eyes and recall the meals I've had at April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's restaurants in New York, a few flavor themes surface: pungent garlic, rich, gamey meats, anchovies, herbs, butter, and salt. I was hoping to find those flavors in Bloomfield's newest project—at the iconic Tosca Café in San Francisco's North Beach—and I did.
'North Beach' on Serious Eats
Comstock Saloon is a destination for classic cocktails, a haven from the bustling neighborhood of North Beach.
The pizzas at Tommaso's get cooked in what is reportedly the oldest wood-fired oven on the West Coast. The New York-Neapolitan pies come out with a crust that is browned and crisp. But, at least on a recent visit, slices had been covered in far too much cheese. The sense of pizza history at Tommaso's is impressive, but San Francisco certainly has better pies to offer.
Cotogna opened to a great deal of fanfare this past November. It's no wonder—as the less buttoned-down offshoot of Michelin-starred Quince, Cotogna promised the opportunity to sample some of Chef Michael Tusk's Italian cooking at a manageable price. If a chef with Tusk's accolades is going to try his hand at pizza, I'm inclined to check it out. If he's pushing the boundaries of pizza toppings to include pies with sea urchin, then he definitely has my attention.
Tony Gemignani is nothing if not a completist. His original San Francisco shop, Tony's Pizza Napoletana, already boasted four different types of pizza ovens and a dizzying array of pizza styles. With the opening of Tony's Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House—right next door, connected through the kitchen—he has added two more ovens to his collection and several more variations on the bread-cheese-sauce theme to his repertoire.
Even amidst the flashing lights that dominate San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, it's hard to miss Golden Boy Pizza. The giant neon hand above the restaurant points the way. And the people follow. They don't come for delicate artisan pies. The purpose of a slice from Golden Boy is to sate the alcohol-induced hunger of a party-goer finishing a night on the town
Ladies and germs, I'm in San Francisco again. Got a wedding to go to—a friend of my girlfriend's is getting hitched. And while the GF was out having a "day of beauty" with the bride and her amigas, I was abandoned at the Powell Street BART Station like a litter of puppies no one wanted. But that's OK, 'cause I like nothing more than being in an unfamiliar place, left to my own devices to explore the pizza on offer. Unlike previous visits, though, this time I'm a bit more organized—I came armed with a San Francisco Pizza Wishlist...