I forgot how I heard about this place, but it’s been on my Any.Do list for a while. And it’s in my neighbourhood which I didn’t realize. I thought all the good places were on Clement or Geary but this was right on the avenues which I was pleasantly surprised by. Inside is a rustic cozy small space which really reminded me of traveling in other non-american cities actually. It’s rare to find restaurants in America that are not in designated commercial spaces, no wonder I missed this.
I’ve been craving some neapolitan style pizza for a long time. I first had it back in my hometown of Victoria. A few years ago I was walking to a staff meeting and went past this restaurant which had the most amazing aroma coming out of its doors. I promptly went back and checked out the menu and the place – this is something I never do since I kind of have a single tracked mind and not much of a shop wanderer. After the meeting, I went back and bought some pizza which absolutely blew my mind. The freshness of the sauce, simpleness of the ingredients and the nice chewiness of the dough was just mindbloggling. That was my first ever Margherita pizza at Pizzeria Prima Strada in Victoria and decided that was my baseline for that style of pizza – it could only get better or more ‘meh’ then there.
When I walked in to Pizzetta 211, I wanted to love it. However, they evidently weren’t on their A Game that day. I have a very low bar for customer service – give me the menu, some water, my food and I’m OK. So I’m not really one to complain about customer service usually, but bear with me here. I walked in and they said I can go sit anywhere I want. I sat down and waited for a while for some water and a menu. That never came. A server came and told me a family of four was waiting outside to have my table which I settled in. That’s fine, I move to the bar. Then a few minutes later he said I can move back because they decided to sit outside. This is a bit of a WTF o_O? moment for me. Make up your mind, I’m getting hungry and I just want some lunch.
I ordered essentially a margherita with some house sausage and pesto on top. It was pretty tasty overall. But the thing I look forward to is the crust. This one and most other neapolitan style pizza crusts, including the one I tried at Delphina’s in the Mission, end up being ‘hard’. The edges almost become like a flatbread and too crunchy. I’ll have to admit though – I’m Chinese and I regard ‘mouth feel’ to be paramount to the food experience, so I’m biased here. The pie I had is in fact a good pie, but it just seems to lack the same slightly billowy, soft but firm and chewy texture that I’ve found at Pizzeria Prima Strada. Part of the reason I suspect is that they go out of their way to order Italian Caputo 00 flour which may have something to do with the elasticity of the flour from the protein/gluten content.
My takeaway from this place is… they probably had an off day with the service department and that’s OK. Their pie’s are just as good as the ones at Delphina’s in the Mission in my opinion and I’ll come here if I ever need my margherita fix – but I’ll still keep on the lookout for what I’m yearning for.