San Francisco: Delarosa
Described as 'Roman-style,' the pizzas are cooked in a fast-burning wood-fired oven at 986°F
2175 Chestnut Street, San Francisco CA 94123 (map); 415-673-7100; delarosasf.com
Pizza Style: Wood-fired, Roman-style
The Skinny: Roman-style crust is neither flavorful nor thin enough to impress, but high-quality toppings more than make up for it
Price: Margherita with burrata, $15; summer squash pizza, $15
The third time's often a charm (usually in games of rock-paper-scissors). With pizza, at least when considering San Francisco's mini pizza empire comprising Beretta, Starbelly, and Delarosa, the third doesn't quite make the cut. Delarosa, while still a great exemplar of the power of seasonal, fresh ingredients on pizza, falls short of its two predecessors.
This isn't to say that Delarosa is not good. It is—very, and the Marina restaurant is almost always packed to the gills. However, when considering their pizzas, I continually find myself drawing unfavorable comparisons to the Italian-style classics of Beretta and the winning California pies at Starbelly.
Really, the problem here is the crust. Described as "Roman-style," the pizzas are cooked in a fast burning wood oven at 986°F. While the crust showed some nice bubbling at the edges and browning underneath, there was little to no char to the taste, leaving it almost anemic in flavor. Furthermore, the oven did not produce the cracker-y texture of Roman crust, even though it was noticeably thinner than, say, Starbelly's bread-y sourdough crust.
However, my disappointment in the crust aside, the toppings here are as stand-out as at Starbelly. The Margherita pizza ($15) was taken to a new level with the addition of burrata. Creamy, milky, and saltier than I expected, the burrata was luxurious on its own, and revelatory when combined with fresh tomato sauce. This was a simple combination that allowed the stellar ingredients to shine, and we gobbled it up.
A summer squash pizza ($15) was a prime example of Delarosa's attention to seasonal, local ingredients. Zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet onion were showcased against a layer of salty but subtle provolone. The crust on this pizza had even less flavor than the Margherita's, but I wasn't bothered considering the sprinkling of creamy, tangy goat cheese. It brought out the sweetness of the vegetables without dominating their flavor, and led to a combination of toppings good enough to render most crusts irrelevant.
Perhaps it isn't fair to compare Delarosa to its sister restaurants. It puts out very respectable pizzas, and while their Roman-style quality may be lacking, the care and attention given to their toppings makes trying their pizza very worthwhile. As pizza is only one section on a rather extensive menu, you will likely be very satisfied with your experience there, even if the pies aren't necessarily the star of the show.