San Francisco: It's All About The Toppings At 21st Amendment
21st Amendment Brewery
563 Second Street, San Francisco CA 94107 (map); 415-369-0900
Pizza Style: Toppings-driven bar pizza... kind of.
The Skinny: A bland, if chewy crust is definitely not a classic crispy-crusted bar pizza, but some of the toppings-heavy options are flavorful, bold, and hugely satisfying with 21st Amendments killer brews.
Price:$10.95 for the Margherita and the jerk chicken special; $11.95 for prosciutto
Let's get one thing straight: you come to 21st Amendment for the beer. The brewery-restaurant hugging South Park and a 5 minute walk from the ballpark has a perfectly fine food menu, but this is a spot known for their beer for a reason.
Slice correspondent David Kover wrote about some of their brews extensively—I love popping in for an after work pint to see what they have on draft. But, sometimes 21st gets crowded enough that staking a claim at a table and staying a while becomes necessary, like when our San Francisco Giants are in the playoffs.*
The menu is full of your bar-standard classics—burgers, sandwiches, tacos—and of course features a sizable pizza menu. Billed as individual-sized and made with a 'special beer mash crust,' topping combinations were clearly veering on the heavy side, with a Mexicali option featuring ground beef and avocado, and a Buffalo chicken version. We avoided both of those (sorry, Max), opting for a Margherita ($10.95, for control purposes), a prosciutto-topped option ($11.95), and the special: a jerk chicken pizza ($10.95).
Whatever your feelings may be about chicken on pizza, the jerk chicken ended up being the very, very clear winner of the three. Topped with goat cheese, Roma tomatoes, grilled onions, and pieces of moist, spicy, well-seasoned chicken, the flavors were bold and nicely complementary to the pile of melty-hot mozzarella.
I mean, the chicken on this pizza was actually good! How often does that happen? What's more, the spiciness of the chicken was particularly excellent with the tang of goat cheese crumbles and the sweetness of the grilled onions. It was such a favorite for our large party that a second ended up being ordered.
The boldness of flavors and ample amount of toppings on this pizza were necessary, we found, as we tried the others. The Margherita was perfectly fine—the tomatoes fresh, the basil flavor nicely present, and the cheese serviceable. But that beer mash crust, despite having nice chew and a hint of maltiness, was sorely lacking in salt.
Due to a high cheese-to-crust- ratio, the bland crust wasn't too big of a problem—it ended up acting as a vehicle for the toppings. Granted, the crust was ill-equipped to stand up to the cheese. Fork and knifing my pizza doesn't bother me much, but it's worth noting that this is not your standard crispy bar pizza (even if it is pizza meant to be eaten with plenty of delicious beer).
The prosciutto pizza was an all-out fail. The lots-of-cheese-bland-crust-base veered from fine to WTF? due to the fact that the prosciutto was cooked on the pizza. No! We do not cook our prosciutto on our pizzas, 21st! The other toppings didn't fare much better—arugula was similarly cooked, rendering it limp, sad, and soggy with cheese grease; roasted red peppers and goat cheese were distracting at best, inconsequential at worst.
Prosciutto-problems aside, these were perfectly serviceable pies to accompany some good beer drinking. Due to the under-salted crust, the topping-heavy options are definitely the way to go—I'd absolutely order that jerk chicken pizza again. And you know what? Next time, I'd be willing to give the Mexicali and even the Buffalo chicken a try.
*And then, you know, go on to clinch the pennant and head to the World Series. Not that I'm rabidly excited about that, or anything!,
About the author: Lauren Sloss is a bicoastal food-lover who is based in San Francisco. Some of her favorite things include The Black Keys, goat gouda, and guacamole. You can follow her on Twitter @laurensloss.