San Francisco: Entering Another Dimension to Eat Pizza at Source
Source restaurant promises a "multi-dimensional" dining experience. Eating their pizza did not transport me to some alternate universe, so I'm assuming this refers to the way they have engineered their dining room into a "joyful sanctuary" replete with "energized" air and custom-designed music. They serve water that has been specially purified alongside their selection of vegetarian and vegan food, and an array of "vibrational multi-dimensional elixirs."
I might have gotten stuck trying to choke down all this new agey jargon and avoided Source altogether, except how often do you get to watch a restaurant cook pizzas in an oven shaped like a giant dragon's head? A gaping serpentine maw, which has been sculpted over a gas-fired Mugniani oven, is the first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant. Not surprisingly, given the way Source describes itself, the pizzas they pull from the belly of this beast defy easy categorization.
For those keeping score at home, Source's dragon burns at about 610 degrees on the oven floor, cooking pies in around four minutes. This doesn't particularly produce any charring on their blond-brown pies. The rectangular personal pizzas stay thin through the undercarriage, but not aggressively so—there's no droop at any point in the slices. The end-crust gets crisp on the outside, and has a homemade, bready flavor. It's not a prototypical crust, but we found plenty of reasons to enjoy it.
It took us a moment to decide how to top Source's homey crust. Though I can get pretty excited about vegetarian toppings, pizzas with meat substitutes named "cluck" or "moo" end up on my rather-not list. That ruled out Source's Chile Cluck Pie, which comes with mozzarella, plum tomato sauce, tomracha sauce, and I'm assuming some sort of chicken replacement. Then, we may have made a mistake by skipping out on the Magic Mushroom pizza (assorted mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and truffle oil). First of all, who doesn't like a drug reference from a restaurant named Source? More importantly, this pie earns a ton of mentions amongst Source's largely glowing Yelp reviews.
We did end up with their Da Bronx pizza, basically Source's version of a Margherita. They make their mozzarella in-house, and I had the sense it was very good, though I'm not quite sure how I knew this (alignment of my chakras?). Source had covered the cheese in a richly-flavored, whoa-that's-sweet tomato sauce that dominated the pie.
Their Grilled Veggie pizza gets topped with grilled squash, eggplant, artichoke hearts, assorted mushrooms, mozzarella, and tomato plum sauce. I'd expected this pie to leak with the water released by the cubes of vegetables, but Source had avoided this problem. None of the toppings overflowed with flavor either, but aided by a shake of red pepper flakes, this became a pizza I could work with.
Of the pies we tried, Source did its best work with the least traditional toppings. Their Smashed Potato Pie came with mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, swiss, Romano, and pockets of a garlic sauce, all hiding under little piles of herby mashed potatoes. Besides a bit too much starch where the potatoes had been heaped too high, the ingredients seemed perfectly dialed in to soothe the stoner in all of us.
I also tried one of Source's Multi-Dimensional Vibrational Elixirs—something called an Expressed Heart, made with Heart Cordial and Throat Chakra. Imagine a cocktail as made by Tom's of Maine. It's not the kind of thing I envision myself seeking out all that often. But it is nice to know that if I do find myself in a place that serves that sort of thing—maybe you really could call it another dimension—I can get myself some pizza.
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. He occasionally gets his tweet on as @pizzakover.