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[Photographs: David Kover]

Zero Zero

826 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (map); 415-348-8800; zerozerosf.com
Getting there: Buses 8X, 14, and 45 will all get you close
Pizza style: Neapolitan-inspired California-style
Oven type: Wood-fired
The skinny: The chef behind Larkspur's Pizzeria Picco delivers more excellent pizza
Notes: No reservation? Prepare for crowds. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.
Price: pies $9.75 to $16.95

San Francisco's local pizzaioli all seem busy expanding their operations around town. We've talked about Tony Gemignani and Sharon Ardiana. Now you can add Bruce Hill to the club. It's a storyline that might start to get old if the pizzas weren't so darn good.

Bruce Hill (of Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, reviewed here) features Neapolitan-style pies at his latest joint, Zero Zero. The pizzas are cooked in a Valoriani oven stoked with almond wood, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you what type of flour Hill is using to make his dough (hint: it's the restaurant's name).

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The undercarriages of the Margherita (left) and one of the other pies (right).

At their center, the Zero Zero pies are slightly moist—slices sag at the tip. The lip of the crust, however, is an absolute paragon of crispy, leopard-spotted skin encircling tender flesh with a little bit of chew.

My Margherita appeared to have found the hot spot in the oven and tasted a touch too much of carbon. It's my hunch that this over-cooked* pizza represents the exception—for the most part, Hill is churning out some really excellent crust.

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They're hand-pulling fresh mozzarella daily in the Zero Zero kitchen, and the cheese was the star of the Margherita. Normally, I'd prefer the cheese to be sliced just a bit thinner, but this stuff was so deliciously creamy and rich—the more the better. The sauce was mild and bright and complemented the cheese while letting it lead the way.

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The other pies at Zero Zero run the gamut from fairly traditional to impressively creative. The Castro was basically a Margherita pumped up with a shot of porkiness in the form of house-made sausage and sopressata. The sausage was especially good, flecked with fennel and just a hint of spicy red pepper.

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The Brunch Pizza was toppings-driven, exemplifying why Hill has taken to labeling his pizza Cali-politan. The pizza featured escarole, house-cured coppa, Calabrian chili, roasted garlic, and mozzarella, with—yes, there's more—a poached egg on top. For those keeping score, that's bitter, smoky, spicy, pungent, and rich, all on one pie. It was a cacophony of flavors that threatened to clash but ultimately pleased.

How do Zero Zero and Pizzeria Picco compare? The crust at Zero Zero gets a mite crispier, while the pies at Picco are a touch daintier. Ultimately though, these are pizzas from the same family. If the dinner crowds at Zero Zero are any indication, they are pizzas that San Franciscans are more than happy to have added to the local menu. In fact, since Pizzeria Picco is located just over the Golden Gate Bridge, Zero Zero may be the most exciting of the recent expansions of SF pizzeria empires because it brings some really good pizza even closer to hand.

*I say this with full awareness that I am potentially re-instigating a recent debate here on Slice.

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