Goat Hill Pizza
300 Connecticut Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (18th and Connecticut in Portrero Hill; (map); 415-641-1440; www.goathill.com
Pizza style: Somewhere between New York–style and California-style
Oven type: Gas
The skinny: Upscale all-you-can-eat pizza deal on Monday nights. Be prepared to wait unless you come early.
Price: $10.95 for unlimited pizza and salad bar
Pizza buffets are not uncommon. Quantity, not quality, is usually the name of the game. But Goat Hill Pizza in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood manages to offer truly tasty all-you-can-eat pizza on Monday nights for $10.95.
The key to their success is avoiding heat lamps. Instead of slinging pizzas onto a buffet, waiters bring the pizzas around the restaurant, offering slivers of the latest pie out of the kitchen. Each large pie has 20 slices, and the pizzas rarely make the full lap around the dining room before being demolished. The pizzaiolos churn out a few of the basics: cheese, pepperoni, mushroom, etc., but most of the pies emerging from the kichen are unique combinations like linguica, green onion, and black olive or tomato, garlic, and feta. The many-tiny-slice method allows you to sample many different toppings.
Most importantly, since the waiters bring each pie fresh from the oven, and your next slice comes from another fresh pie, each slice is blazingly hot. At most pizzerias, the first slice you eat tastes better than the second slice. The first one is fresher and hotter, while the second sits, waiting impatiently for you to finish the the first piece. But at Goat Hill, every slice you eat is from a new, hot pizza. It's brilliant.
Goat Hill's sourdough crust isn't very sour, but it does have a nice consistency, hitting the balance between crunchy, spongy and chewy. The bottom is studded with bits of conrmeal, but it's not overpowering.
The herb-filled sauce was very lightly applied on most pies, which was a bit disappointing. My hunch is that the pizzaiolos are under tremendous pressure to crank out pizzas, and more sauce probably leads to more baking time, slowing the impressively efficient process. One of my dining companions, four year old Sydney, took a bite of her first piece of pizza and asked for ketchup (please). While I didn't yearn for that particular tomato-based condiment, I wish they'd brush a little more sauce on each pizza.
The toppings, however, were plentiful and flavorful. The black and green olives were thickly cut and quite pungent. The garlic came either in fat, juicy cloves or in heaping dollops. The sausage was slightly spicy, and the linguica a little more so. The tomatoes tasted like they may have come from the freezer, but it's mid January—what can one reasonably expect?
I was surprised and impressed that the waitstaff took requests. A waitress gave the last slice of an anchovy-containing pizza to someone at a table next to mine. I asked if there would be any more anchovy pizzas rolling out any time soon, and she said she'd put in a request. 20 minutes later, she returned with a fresh-from-the-oven anchovy, black olive and green olive pizza, and gave me two slices up front.
Goat Hill Pizza is a great Monday night destination: the practice of bringing pizzas tableside means that each slice is devoured hot by happy patrons who don't even have to get up. While it's certainly not suitable for the Neapolitan purists out there, for those who just want to eat slice after slice after slice of delicious pizza for $10.95, Goat Hill Pizza is unbeatable.