Tourists, rejoice! If you're planning to visit San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, it turns out that you're not stuck with lousy food. Carmel Pizza Company has you covered with quality Neapolitan-inspired pizzas out of a wood-fired oven.
'Italian' on Serious Eats
Located in an imposing limestone faced Palladian style building, Bottega actually houses two restaurants. One offers a more sophisticated evening experience, and the other is a casual cafe featuring wood-fired pizzas. Socializing and drinks were the reason for most of my cafe visits, and I never quite bonded with the pizza. They were Zagat's recent pick for the "50 States, 50 Pizzas" guide, which was a reminder to give them another look.
Inspired by the Filetti pizza at Anthony Mangieri's Una Pizza Napoletana, this pie combines fresh cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, basil, garlic, olive oil, and a couple twists of our own.
Even in California, fig season doesn't last forever, and the specimens I was picking up last week had already lost their figgy luster. The best way to use less-than-perfect figs is to cook them. Not only does this drive off some of their moisture, concentrating their flavor, but it also converts some of their more complex sugars to simple sugars that are sweeter than their precursors. Your figs become jammier and all around tastier. This works especially well on a pizza cooked in a hot oven because that bite of cheese and drizzle of olive oil can go straight on top with the figs.
The first time I had radicchio on a pizza was about a decade ago in the old converted barn that my good friend and food writer Deborah Krasner calls home, up in Putney, Vermont. I still remember her exact words, because I didn't believe them at the time: "The leaves become just wonderfully sweet when they're roasted and charred," she said. In what was, at that point, my very limited experience, charring things always made them more bitter, not less. Luckily, she was right, I was wrong, and deliciousness ensued.
Cesare Casella is (rightfully) proud of Italian food, and continues to be so, albeit with a slightly...adjusted view of the big picture. "Italians have a deep cultural attachment to nourishing, delicious food, and not very much interest in junk food. Or at least, that is what I always thought."
Any serious discussion about the state of pizza in the United States must eventually lead to sausage. In large swaths of America, a pizzeria is judged not just by the quality of its crust, but by the quality of its preferably-homemade-but-definitely-at-least-custom-blended-by-a-master sweet Italian fennel sausage. What's that? Never made sausage before, you say? Don't worry. By the end of the day, you'll be a pro.
As impressed as we were by Rubirosa when it first opened, now that our office is just a few blocks away, I make it out there for a slice or two pretty regularly during the week. And I've gotta say, it just keeps getting better and better.