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San Francisco: Pizzeria Avellino Chooses the Right Inspiration
2769 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 (map); 415-776-2500; pizzeriaavellino.com
Pizza style: NY-style
Oven type: Gas
The skinny: NY-style pizza made with the same recipe as local favorite Arinell
Price: Regular slice, $3; medium pie, $15.50; large, $19.50
If this pie from San Francisco's Pizzeria Avellino looks familiar, that's because we've written about it before. Well, not directly. But Avellino was founded by a former employee of beloved San Francisco slice shop Arinell, and apparently he took the dough and sauce recipes with him when he jumped ship. In fact, it's probably best if you hop over and read what we've had to say about Arinell before you continue here. Go ahead—I'll wait.
Okay, so Avellino's solid pizza genealogy means that you get a NY-style slice that looks and feels right. No puffed up collagen end-crust or giant slick of pale white cheese here. Yet, when it comes to flavor, Avellino comes up just a bit short of Arinell and, by extension, its NY-style forebears.
In many ways, the crust at Avellino turns out similar to the one at Arinell—ultra-thin underneath and crisp all the way through. Avellino's slice does get somewhat less browning on bottom, and so seemed to struggle to hold its crispness with the same persistence as an Arinell slice.
Ultimately though, the biggest difference between Arinell and Avellino appears to come on top of the slice. The flavor in the pizza at both places is cheese-centric, but the sauce at Arinell boasts a little more tang, which balances things out a bit better. (Yes, I know they told me they use the same recipe, but it tasted different.) More notably, Arinell applies a touch more cheese, giving the top of their slice a creamier feel when you bite into it. This also results in a slice that springs back to life better after a reheat, avoiding the dreaded crusty cheese I experienced on a second time around with Avellino.
Avellino offers up bare-bones toppings. Mushrooms worked out well; the slightly dried out sausage discs less so. They do try their hand at a few house special topping combos, and they even make a dessert pizza topped with Nutella. Beyond this, however, they don't get sucked in by the siren song of California-style toppings.
Yes, I set out to review one pizza place and ended up writing nearly as much about another. But, in the end, the two joints are located clear across the city from one another, so a side-by-side comparison isn't really necessary. I'll stick with my neighborhood slice shop, but at least Avellino is looking to the right places for inspiration.