The New Era of Pizzologists (Do You Need To Be Italian?)
You think a trend has reached its peak—and then it just keeps going. Wine bars, fro-yo, pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza. Pizza. Oh, and by the way, pizza.
Clearly A16, Pizzeria Delfina and Picco weren't pizza enough for us. Chefs with tattoos, fixed gear bikes and 00 flour aren't enough either. The ante has been upped. Now, it seems, you have to actually be Italian or come with papers.
Pizzanostra in Potrero Hill just opened, touting Giovanni Adinolfi as their "pizza chef" (pizzologist, I see it coming)—excuse me, "one of Europe's foremost pizza chefs." Adinolfi has just arrived from the French Riviera (France is next to Italy), with 18 years experience including fifth place in the World Pizza Championship.
Then there's Flour + Water, which is set to open in the Mission supposedly mid-April (we walked by the other day and the plywood had just been taken down and the interior's not finished). Flour + Water might not equal a real Italian chef, but they are going to have a real Italian Valorani oven. And there's Tony's Pizza Napolitano in North Beach, which is going to be right next to the International School of Pizza which, according to Eater via Leah Garchik, is backed by Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, which, if you go their website, seems to be up in arms about imposter pizza chefs—something we should all be wary of here too. (Tip: Apparently the proof that someone is an official Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli certified chef is that they can present to you: "… a diploma from the school, with an original signature from the President. They also receive a bag, shirt, hat, and textbook.")
But let's remember, when we're getting all obsessive about ovens and flour and Italians, that some places in SF have been serving up delicious, legitimate wood-fired pizza from way before the word pizzaiolo entered our vocabulary and we insisted on our crust being charred to black. One of them is Lulu, which was ahead of its time in many ways. I was reminded of this when I stopped by for lunch on a quiet Saturday. (I mean quiet like we were almost the only people there.) At the bar, we had an absolutely great pizza of wild mushrooms (low on the greasy pig fat), with a refreshingly unblackened crust—maybe not strait out of Naples, but delicious nonetheless. Very-longtime chef Jon Hennigan had just tinkered with the pie, adding a bit more dough per pizza to give the bottom a bit more to work with so it didn't flop. Lulu also lead the way in the wine bar culture and their wine list has some amazing deals to this day. Read more about it in our upcoming May issue.