Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 23
Terun, Palo Alto
I know I’m not the only one cheering that “Stanley Tucci’s Searching For Italy” has been picked up for a second season on CNN, even if every episode has sent me binging on carbs to high heaven.
So, it’s no wonder that after last week’s episode, I found my way to Terun in Palo Alto’s California Ave. Brothers Franco and Maico Campilongo, and their friend, chef Kristyan d’Angelo, all of whom hail from Italy, opened the doors in 2012 to serve authentic Southern Italian fare.
This place takes Neopolitan pizza seriously. In fact, it’s one of the few restaurants in California that is a member of the American Delegation of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, a non-profit that recognizes restaurants outside of Italy that meet strict standards and traditions of Neapolitan pizza making.
At Terun, the pies are cooked over wood in a blistering Marr Forni Neapolitan oven. There are 13 different pizzas available. Plus, you can add extra ingredients to any of them for an additional cost, if you like.
I’ve had many a prosciutto-laden pizza with arugula. In fact, it’s the pizza of choice whenever my husband spots it on a menu. At Terun, the San Daniele ($22) is a slightly loaded version with cremini mushrooms and a splash of truffle oil added to the usual mozzarella, arugula, and shaved Grana Padano. Thin slices of 24-month aged prosciutto San Daniele are laid overtop the pizza after baking so they remain supple, rather than harden and dry out from the heat of the oven.
The crust is light, airy and crisp, and speckled just so here and there, with a developed fermented taste. This pizza has a lot going on for a big punch of taste that works together with hits of salty cheese, sweet porkiness, and earthiness from the mushrooms and truffle oil.
The Nduja ($19) is a flat-out winner. Tinged bright red-orange from the Calabrian chili-spiced oil in the spreadable salami, it immediately grabs your attention in looks. Then, it takes hold of your taste buds with its boldness. It’s fiery to be sure, but there’s also an incredible fruity sweetness and smokiness that keeps you coming back for bite after bite. Slices of zucchini added a garden-fresh lightness, while mozzarella a milky creaminess to counteract the spiciness.
A side dish of sweet, tender fava beans and broccoli rabe ($17) brought a generous amount of both vegetables, cooked with plenty of garlic and Grana Padano. The broccoli rabe is rendered quite mild, so those who usually shy away from this bitter green have nothing to fear.
Pastas are made in-house, and shouldn’t be missed. The charcoal-hued, squid ink pasta ($21) was topped with a big helping of chunky octopus ragu. The tomato-based sauce adds a nice sweetness and acidity to the briny pasta dish.
Scialatielli ($19) are hand-cut, thick, supple noodles that reminded me a little of udon in texture and chewiness. The fat strands hide a wealth of tender mushroom pieces in a velvety olive oil-rosemary sauce.
My favorite pasta dish was definitely the ravioli ($21). Stuffed with a lusty short rib and ricotta filling, these tender ravioli were gently napped with a red wine reduction that tasted as if it might have been made with veal demi glace for extra savory, meaty deliciousness.
Pro Tip: With pizza this good, it pays to have leftovers. So, do order extra for lunch or dinner the next day, too. To warm up a slice or two easily without having to turn on the oven, place in a single layer in a large pan on the stove-top over medium heat. Put a lid on it. Check back every 2 minutes or so to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. After after about 5 minutes or so, the underside will have crisped up and the top rendered melty. Voila — pizza as fresh tasting again as it gets.
Flour & Branch, San Francisco, Bay Area, and Beyond
Lauren Arnsdorff makes the kind of outrageously, over-the-top, nostalgic sweet treats that only the most hardened soul could turn down. Ones bursting with childhood cereal favorites, an overload of gooey chocolate, and a blinding amount of rainbow sprinkles.
She founded her Flour & Branch bakery in 2020, and is in the process of building a storefront for it on Pier 3 in San Francisco. Meantime, you can get her goodies delivered to you in the Bay Area via various apps or nationwide via Goldbelly.
I had a chance to try samples last week. That proved to be good timing, too, because the delivery including the limited-edition twice-baked matcha croissants ($10 for two), which are only available in the San Francisco Bay Area in honor of Lunar New Year.
These croissants are the crispiest I’ve ever had. They are crispy through and through, rather than giving way to a more yielding center like most croissants. How crispy were they? They were still that shattering the next day. These croissants sport the green-gray hue of matcha all over and have a smear of matcha and pecan frangipane in the center and on top. They taste almost of browned butter, with the earthy-bitterness of matcha balanced by the sweet nuttiness of the pecan paste.
The Captain Fruity Monster Mallow ($8.75) pairs Fruity Pebbles, Captain Crunch and puffed rice for a rainbow-bedazzled rice krispie bar that gets a final flourish of glaze squiggles over the top. Crispy and sticky with marshmallow, it will transport you instantly back to when you were 10 years old.
Flour & Branch is known for its cookies. It’s no wonder when they are this bodacious. They come individually wrapped, and are as big as my palm. They are very thick and domed, soft through and through, and almost underdone in texture in the middle, so you have to appreciate that kind of tenderness to be a fan.
The Salty Sombitch is studded with Guittard butterscotch chips, plus a center of chocolate toffee with a sprinkle of Maldon salt. It’s very sweet and buttery. The Brookie marries a soft, crumbly cookie with a decadent brownie, then adds peanut butter chips, and Guittard milk chocolate chunks for a chocolate lover’s dream.
The Nutella Stuffy is truly decadent with crispy caramel pearls decorating the top and a filling of thick Nutella hidden inside for even more richness. My favorite is The Chipper, done up with Guittard chocolate chips, puffed rice, and ground espresso. I love how the coffee’s bitter edge adds depth and cuts the sweetness. Plus, who can resist a cookie emblazoned with a torched marshmallow with espresso bean shavings, right?
A seven-pack of cookies is $29.75 for those in the Bay Area; or $59 if mailed nationwide via Goldbelly.
I had to steel myself to attack the Mashugana Stuffed French toast after reading the description of the 2.5-pound extravaganza of chocolate babka and challah soaked in cream, then stuffed with peanut butter chips and cookie butter, and finished all over with brown sugar cocoa crumble and powdered sugar. I could feel cavities forming in my teeth and inches expanding on my waist even before the first bite.
The French toast, which will easily feed at least 6 people, needs to be heated in the oven. Although the directions said to heat it for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven, I found that it took at least 35 minutes to get it warm through and through, given its density.
The surprise? This wasn’t nearly the sugar bomb for which I was bracing. It was sweet, to be sure, but the tender, custardy breads acted as a foil, as did the slight saltiness of the peanut butter. A warm square in the morning is so filling, don’t be surprised if the lunch-hour passes by without notice.
The stuffed French toast is $38 delivered within the Bay Area; and $75 nationwide via Goldbelly.
Pro Tip: If you’re ordering in the Bay Area, be sure to take a good look-see at the various delivery app options, as certain items are not available on all of them. For instance, the Mashugana Stuffed French Toast, as well as its relative, the Beshert (with whiskey-soaked challah stuffed with cream cheese and blueberries) is sold only on Feastin. And the matcha croissants are available only on DoorDash.