eggs Italian Neapolitan Northern California pizza reviews

Pizzeria Delfina

Earlier this year, I embarked on a quest to find the best Neapolitan pizza around. L.A.’s Pizzeria Mozza is my favorite, but in the Bay Area, that title currently belongs to Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur with Pizzaiolo in Oakland a close second. But after yesterday, Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco’s Mission District just squeezed itself into the number two slot.

I always like to start with the basics, so we ordered the Margherita pizza. The tomato sauce was a little bland, which was disappointing, and my wife said it could have used more fresh basil, as well. However, both the mozzarella and the crispy/chewy/salty crust were great and almost made up for these deficiencies.


Our other pizza was one of the daily specials, the Carbonara, which featured pancetta, leeks, Pecorino Romano and two runny eggs. Thanks to Pizzaiolo, I love eggs on pizza, but Delfina was able to ensure that the eggs covered the entire pizza so that there was a little in every bite. This pizza was perfect and sinfully good.


The Carbonara and Delfina’s pizza crust were enough to put Pizzeria Delfina just slightly ahead of Pizzaiolo in the pizza category. (To be fair, Pizzaiolo offers a much more diverse menu that includes fresh burrata, as well as some excellent pastas.)

Pizzeria Delfina’s in a great location about 4 blocks from the 16th Street BART station, which is good because finding parking was a big issue for us. But its 18th Street location means that it’s also sandwiched between the venerable Tartine Bakery and Bi-Rite Creamery, my favorite ice cream in San Francisco. Maybe next time we go to Pizzeria Delfina we’ll try one of their desserts, but with those two options nearby, would you blame us for asking for the check when we were done with our pizzas?

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110 map
Web site
Pizzeria Delfina on Urbanspoon

musings Northern California reviews

Gluttony at Slow Food Nation ’08

Slow Food Nation '08I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to any of Slow Food Nation this weekend because I had family in town, but I managed to convince my wife and sister-in-law to trek down to the Civic Center on Saturday afternoon to check things out.

Our original mission was to get some ice cream from either Bi-Rite Creamery or the Ici Ice Cream booths since we had already eaten lunch before coming into San Francisco. We couldn’t find Ici’s booth, which bummed us out because we’ve heard so many good things about it, and by the time we got to Bi-Rite’s booth, all they had left were some pluot popsicles. The popsicles were good but weren’t exactly what we were looking for.

What we did find was Three Twins Ice Cream, an organic ice cream company based out of San Rafael, CA. It was late in the afternoon and a lot of the flavors we wanted to try were already sold out. Plus, scoops were $4 and pints were $6, so we ended up buying a pint of their Milk and Cookies and a scoop of orange sherbet.

Three Twins Ice Cream

The orange sherbet wasn’t very sweet, which was great, and it had a light airy texture to it. I loved it. The Milk and Cookies was one of the best versions of cookies and cream I’ve ever had. The three of us were plowing through this so fast that we had to stop ourselves and throw it out before we were too full to try any other food. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because we were too busy enjoying it to bother. :-)

Three Twins was located in the farmer’s market section of Marketplace, so we ventured over to the other side of the plaza to the Slow on the Go section to visit the food vendors. We tried some really tlacoyos (stuffed masa cakes) from Primavera (left), a nice grilled sausage and peppers sandwich from Fatted Calf. Now we were really full.

Tlacoyos from Primavera (left) and a sausage and pepper sandwich from Fatted Calf.

I’m not a composter, but the Black Gold bricks were pretty cool.

Black Gold Compost

deep dish pizza reviews Zagat

Little Star Pizza

Earlier this year, Zagat was looking for reviews of SF Bay Area restaurants, and people who made submissions would be eligible for a free 2008 Zagat guide. I love free stuff, so I wrote some brief reviews, secretly hoping, of course, that something I contributed would be used in the final printed guide.

I got my 2008 Zagat Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area in the mail today, and being the egomanical whore that I am, I started looking through it to see if they used any of my lines. When I got to the listing for Little Star Pizza in San Francisco, I noticed something familiar:

From the 2008 ZAGAT Guide

That line “especially when ‘paired with PBR’ ” jumped out at me because here’s what I wrote in my original review on 4/5/07:

From Zagat Online

The irony is that I don’t even drink PBR and have always been puzzled by its status as the cool hipster beer. I could also make the argument that they also used my reference to “hipsters” in the printed review, but I’ll let that one go since finding a hipster in San Francisco isn’t very difficult.

So there it is…my little (and anonymous) contribution to the 2008 Zagat Guide. It’s not much, but it’s something.

For the record, here’s the little ditty I penned for my Yelp review of Little Star:

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Your deep dish is best by far
On a base of corn meal crust
Sweet tomatoes fuel my lust
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Your deep dish is best by far

It’s a little cramped inside
A simple menu is your guide
With PBR instead of Schlitz
Jukebox plays some 80s hits
Pies baked fresh and it smells great
Order salad while you wait

Years I thought Zach’s was the best
But after yours I can attest
You’re the Bay’s Chicago king
It’s so good you’ll want to sing
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Your deep dish is best by far

Little Star Pizza
400 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 map
Web site
Little Star Pizza on Urbanspoon

Northern California Peruvian reviews

Mi Lindo Peru

Peruvian food has never really been on my radar, but when my friend told me that her brother in law owned Mi Lindo Peru, I was definitely interested in giving it a try. I really had no idea that Mi Lindo Peru was getting rave reviews on Yelp.

For starters, we ordered the Empanada de Carne, which was really good, but the Chicharron Al Ajo was great. Chicken wings are marinated in garlic and then fried and tossed with more garlic and served with a garlicky dipping sauce. Yeah, it’s a lot of garlic, but it’s not as strong as you might expect and it was an absolutely delicious appetizer. We also ordered some fried plantains that were beautiful and brown and caramelized all over.

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For our entrees, I ordered the Bistek a la Pobre, a top sirloin steak that’s sauteed w/ onions and tomatoes and then topped with a fried plantain and a perfect fried egg on a bed of fragrant rice. My wife ordered the Pollo Oregano, a half chicken roasted in oregano and served with the same delicious rice. It was really good and we ended up using the leftovers in some fried rice we made the next day. Soo Jin ordered a bistek dish similar to mine sans plantain and fried egg, which she loved. This is comfort food at its finest. Their sangria is also excellent.

Mi Lindo Peru is a great place to eat and the prices are reasonable. It’s a small neighborhood restaurant with a laidback vibe and if I lived in San Francisco, I’d definitely go there more often. It’s only about a 5 minute walk from the 24th Street BART station, so if I ever need a fix, at least I won’t have to worry about parking.

Mi Lindo Peru
3226 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110 map
Mi Lindo Peru on Urbanspoon

French Northern California reviews

Chez Maman

Chez Maman sounds like really fancy place, doesn’t it? Well, in truth, it’s a small, neighborhood cafe that seats only 14 people, and it’s easy to see how this place could get packed during a rush. Most of the seats are at the bar, which gives diners an intimate look at how this place runs.

I ordered a burger, my wife got the Crepe Savoyarde and our friend ordered the Croque Madame. We also split an order of frites and a side of ratatouille. The cook was fast, efficient and truly a sight to see, working by himself to make all of our dishes with only seconds to spare before foods went from perfect to burnt. It went a little something like this:

– Slap burger down on the grill
– Drop frites in the fryer
– Assemble Croque Madame, place in panini press
– Move to crepe station and start the Crepe Savoyarde
– Flip the burger
– Flip the crepe
– Pull frites out of fryer
– Finish Crepe Savoyarde
– Start egg for Croque Madame
– Assemble and plate burger
– Remove Croque Madame from panini press, top with egg

Amidst all the action, I can’t remember when the ratatouille made its appearance except when it showed up with the rest of our food. I’d never had ratatouille before, but after seeing the movie, I wanted to give it a try and was pleased to discover that it’s a very simple and hearty dish.

Frites were perfect. If you’ve had perfect frites then you know what I mean.

My burger was really good. I had it with swiss and bacon, and the combination was pretty amazing (but then again, in my book, it’s really hard to screw up a bacon cheeseburger.) I’m not normally big on round burgers on square bread, but the bread was pretty damn good. It did start falling apart at the end, but I didn’t really mind.

My wife’s Crepe Savoyarde was cooked perfectly and you can’t really go wrong with a tomato, bechamel, prosciutto and brie filling.

I’m really big on fried eggs in (or on) sandwiches, so when I saw our friend’s Croque Madame, I got really jealous. A sunny egg tops a ham-and-cheese sandwich on pain de mie that’s pressed like a panini to get those appetizing grill marks. It was beautiful. Apparently it’s so good that it’s the only thing Sooj has ordered here. I’m definitely getting this next time.

We finished off the meal with some great, perfectly cooked sweet crepes. Our friend ordered the Crepe Tatin (carmelized apples with creme chantilly) and ours was filled with Berries and Creme Fraiche.

Chez Maman may not look like much when you first walk in, but grab a seat at the bar so you can witness and taste the magic.

Chez Maman
1453 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107 map
Web site
Chez Maman on Urbanspoon

beef Northern California reviews

House of Prime Rib

I love it when an LA institution is so good that someone has to copy it and bring the concept to the Bay Area. This is true of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, whose counterpart, Home of Chicken and Waffles, opened in Oakland a few years ago. (Those other Roscoe’s you may have seen in the Bay Area before this were fakes.)

What many people may not know is that this probably first happened when the entire Lawry’s the Prime Rib concept (menu, spinning salad, rolling silver carts, etc.), was copied and brought to the Bay Area when the beloved San Francisco institution known as the House of Prime Rib opened in 1949. Ultimately, the House of Prime Rib makes me sad for San Francisco. In a city that boasts some of the best restaurants in the world, is this really the pinnacle for prime rib?

I had the large, bone-in King Henry VIII cut and my wife had the standard HoPR cut, both medium rare (the only proper way to eat prime rib). I wish I could say good things about the meat, but it isn’t very good. It was just pale, gray and flavorless, and it didn’t melt in our mouths. It was just chewy…really chewy. I did cut off some of the meat that was still clinging to the bone, and these little slivers were the best pieces of meat of our meal.

The Yorkshire puddings were an utter disappointment. A proper Yorkshire pudding is very puffy and should look like it’s exploding out of the little serving skillets. HoPR’s were just flat…like a pancake. It still tasted good and was great for picking up all the extra jus. The spinning salad was nice but overdressed.

But it wasn’t all bad…

The sourdough bread they bring to the table is great and very San Francisco. The loaded baked potato was probably the best I’ve ever had, and the mashed potatoes were good but forgettable. Creamed spinach was very nice and rich, but my wife makes a better version of it (she doubles the bacon content and saves some for garnish).

The desserts are fantastic. The Chocolate Fantasy Cake is a decadent triple-layer cake of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and cheesecake served with a chocolate and raspberry sauce. The creme brulee had a subtle eggy flavor and its light and smooth consistency was perfect.

HoPR is beloved by both locals and tourists, but the truth is, the meat is not up to par with places like Lawry’s or Morton’s. To be honest, I’ve had better prime rib at Outback.

Did I stutter?

In fact, I can guarantee you that I’ve made prime rib for Christmas dinner that was better than what I had at House of Prime Rib. And I’m talking about the whole meal, with real, puffy Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and gravy, and creamed spinach laden with bits of Niman Ranch bacon. Maybe if you’re good this Christmas, you can come over and revel in this feast.

House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109 map
Web site

Japanese Northern California reviews

Delica rf-1

Delica rf-1 is an interesting experiment in Japanese deli food. It’s high-end (i.e. expensive), they use fresh ingredients and even utilize some of the vendors that reside in the Ferry Building (Cowgirl Creamery and Prather Meat Company). I was lucky enough to end up here with my wife and sister in law, so we were able to get a pretty good sampling of food between the three of us. $47 later, here’s how things broke down.

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For all their talk about fresh, healthy and balanced meals, Delica’s strength is definitely in their fried foods. The Potato Croquette was really nice, but the Crab Cream Croquette is even better. Tonkatsu was smaller and bite sized since it’s made with pork tenderloin, a smaller, leaner cut of meat that benefits from being fried in panko. They’re all perfectly fried, not greasy and still crispy after sitting in the display case for awhile.

We also tried both curries — Mushroom and Ground Chicken Curry and Beef Curry served with hot steamed rice — and they were good, but they also weren’t anything special either, although the beef curry featured some perfectly cooked Prather Ranch Meat.

But the real star at Delica is the Roast Beef Sushi. A rare piece of Meyer Ranch meat on top of sushi rice and topped with baby arugula, shallots and julienned radish. It not only looked beautiful, it was absolutely delicious. And to think it was almost an afterthought because it was in a separate box from the rest of the food and we were all pretty full by the time we ate them.

We also ordered the Spinach and Sesame Salad (Goma-ae), which was very bland, but my sister in law said that that’s what it’s supposed to taste like. The Sweet & Spicy Chicken was good but nothing mind blowing, as was the Chicken Dumpling with sweet chili sauce.

I really wanted to try the Tofu Steak with Miso Sauce and Kakiage Tempura (mixture of shredded vegetables, white shrimp in a tempura batter), but we already had too much food, but I think the next time I go, I’m just going to get three orders of roast beef sushi and call it a day.

Delica rf-1
1 Ferry Building, Shop 45
San Francisco, CA 94111 map
Web site