Pizzanostra SF Knows How to Slice It

Pizza with clams, calamari, and

When a new pizza joint opens in San Francisco where the pies are made by a guy who placed sixth one year and seventh one year in the World Pizza Championship in Italy, you can’t help but have carb-loving, high hopes for the place.

Pizzanostra SF, which opened in March in San Francisco’s hip Portrero Hill neighborhood, delivers on that.

The executive chef is David Bazirgan, who has worked with celeb chef Todd English, and who has cooked at Baraka, Chez Papa Bistrot, and Chez Papa Resto, all in San Francisco. The pizza maestro is 37-year-old Giovanni Aginolfi, one of Europe’s foremost pizza chefs with 18 years of experience.

Recently, I was invited to try the pizza at this industrial-looking eatery that seats 36 inside and 45 outside when the fog hasn’t rolled in too thickly.

Grilled octopus salad.

We started with an antipasti of tender, smoky grilled octopus tossed with nutty chickpeas, lemon, and celery ($9). Pizzanostra SF serves a variety of pastas ($9 to $16), and even a grilled burger ($12). But of course, we were there to test the pies.

My hubby, being Meat Boy, opted for the “Cannibal” (tomato, mozzarella, bolognese, oregano, and an egg cooked in the center; $15). Nuggets of seasoned sausage were strewn over the top of the crispy crust. The egg, with its runny yolk, added an extra rich, gooey touch.

Sausage and a runny egg make up the "Cannibal.''

I had the “Pescatora” (tomato, mozzarella, prawns, clams, calamari, and persillade; $16). The gas-heated pizza oven turns out crusts with very crisp, charred edges. The center sometimes is a little soft, though. But the toppings have a marvelous balance and progression of flavors. Imagine the wonderful garlicky, briney, olive oil-infused sauce on a dish of linguine with fresh clams. That’s the taste that permeates this seafood pizza, which features clams still in the shell to keep them tender. It’s a taste of the sea on a land of crust. The finely chopped persillade, a mix of parsley and garlic, lends a final note of freshness and brightness.

For those not on the Atkins diet, you can end your feast at Pizzanostra SF with even more crust. “Tronchetto Nutella and Banana” ($9) is like a dessert calzone. It arrives on a big plate, cut up and arranged around fresh fruit. Who can resist warm hazelenut-chocolate spread enveloping soft bananas inside a sweet, crisp crust dusted with sugar and cocoa powder?

More "pizza'' -- for dessert.

I brought home two slices of leftover pizza, which might have been even better the next day when I warmed them up. For those who don’t know about this fantastic method, the best way to warm up a few slices of cold pizza is definitely not in the microwave, where the crust will turn soft, but in a frying pan on top of the stove. Just place one to two pieces in a frying pan over medium heat. Put a lid on top, and let cook undisturbed for a few minutes until the cheese melts. You’ll end up with nicely warmed slices with crusts that are crisp all the way from the outside in.

Yes, PizzaNostra SF definitely delivered on the food.

We only wished they delivered to our neighborhood, some 50 miles away.

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Date: Friday, 8. May 2009 4:42
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, General, Pizza, Restaurants

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17 comments

  1. 1

    Great looking food! I love whole clams on pizzas. I’m following the A16 method for homemade pizza tonight.

  2. 2

    Excellent reheating tip!

    I am finally back in town and this place is on my list to try. Yum!

  3. 3

    Oooo – the egg on the ‘Cannibal’ is a new one for me (although my husband will undoubtedly object if I decide to plop an egg in the middle of his pizza!) How was it done? Was it placed on the pie after it was done or baked with it?

    I am so envious of the variety of pizza places you have access to in the Bay Area!

  4. 4

    thanks for the reheating tip. I’ll have to try it one day.

  5. 5

    Hey, you had a pizza with clam shells on them! They do make it like that! (As you know, I had a clam pizza with just the clam meat sans the shell.) The pizzas looked really fancy. San Francisco is really emerging as a pizza capital of the west I think.

  6. 6

    Too bad LA doesn’t have the same good pizza options as SF does. NY, Chicago and SF are at the top of the list for good pizzas!

  7. 7

    i think the top photo is my favorite. i heard about this place opening. it sounds delicious. i’ve never tried the frying pan method, but i think i will next time i have leftover pizza.

  8. 8

    Great post!! Wish I had pizza like that in Iowa.

  9. 9

    That’s a very interesting antipasti – celery and octopus together, huh?

    The Portrero Hill neighborhood is quickly becoming a foodie hotspot.

  10. 10

    We have the same review up on the same day!!! I loved this place…
    http://www.italyinsf.com/2009/05/08/pizza-nostra-san-francisco/
    Ciao!

  11. Allison Lemons
    Friday, 8. May 2009 15:40
    11

    I cannot wait to try this place! I’ve been looking for solid pizza in SF for a while now, and judging by your write-up and your photos, this is the place to get it. Thanks for the post!

  12. 12

    Pizza sounds good – I haven’t had a slice in ages! microwave certainly does ruin the leftover pizza – thanks for a great reheating tip!

  13. 13

    LisaIsCooking: Oooh, my fave dough recipe. I should drop by your house tonight. Hah!

    Tangled Noodle: I believe they cook the pizza for a few minutes to start, then crack the egg in the center, and put it back in the oven just until it’s barely done.

    Duo Dishes: What?! What do you mean no good pizza places in Los Angeles? What about my fave Pizzeria Mozza? Oh, the burrata one there just might be my all-time, most loved pizza. I still dream about it. You must try it.

  14. 14

    I love that you always have your pulse on the happenings of the SF culinary scene. Forget about other food blogs (SF Eater, even the Chron), you are the source! That being said, I need to try this place.

  15. 15

    I’ve been a lurking fan for months now! Thank you! When will the FoodGal go check out the burgeoning gourmet food cart scene happening in the Mission these days and report back to her loyal readers? I think the Creme Brulee Cart guy is on to something, and the Amuse Bouche cart….. how cute is that?

    http://missionlocal.org/2009/05/mix-media-the-mission-a-twitter-with-street-food/

  16. 16

    Crockergal: Thanks for reading, and for the tip. Creme brulee cart??! I think I need to park myself right in front of it. I love how the link states that some people go for the creme brulee FIRST, before eating their curry plates. Too funny. But then again, I’ve always believed in the motto: “Life is short; eat dessert first.” I even had a poster to that effect, hanging on my bedroom wall as a teen-ager. ;)

  17. 17

    Cripes how did I miss this post – ahh just another reason to high tail it over to Potrero Hill. This place looks yummy!

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