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When Love is Not Enough: Pizzeria Delfina #2

There are some things that you just want to love. You want to love it because of the people involved, or because it’s a great idea, or because you know how much thought and care went into making the dream a reality. But no matter how you try, you just can’t love it—at least not like you’d hoped.

I’m sorry to say that this is how I felt about the new Pizzeria Delfina on California Street. As anyone who knows me already knows, I am a huge Delfina booster. I love that little pizzeria on 18th street, despite the crushing popularity that has made a wait just par for the course. I love the stools flanking the open kitchen, the breadsticks and the bustle. I love the food, which always just seems like the perfect version—the perfect roasted cauliflower, the perfect tuna conserva, the perfect pizza.

So I guess I took it for granted that I would love the spanking new Pizzeria Delfina just as well. The food at the new location is every bit as good as the original, and I had a superlative broccoli raab pizza doused with good olive oil, along with a handful of antipasti and a fine glass of red. It looks like a duck (the same white subway tiles, the same chalkboard waiting list) and quacks like a duck (same great food and warm service) but, well, it might be a goose. The second location is about twice the size of the old, which means that more people will get to enjoy the food on a nightly basis. But those tables are awfully close to one another, and a handful of seats (including the one I was sitting in) aren’t very good ones, too close to the door or the crowds. The lighting is bright and reflects off those tiles, something that never bothered me in the old location but seems to give this new, bigger space something of a cafeteria-like feeling. And now, though I hesitate to even mention it (as it stands as the surest sign that I am getting older), I have to confess that the deafening noise level made normal conversation all but impossible—though it did also save me from having to hear the conversation of the folks at the next table, who were seated only about 6 inches from my own.

Will the opening of the second Pizzeria Delfina location be looked back on, someday, as the moment when the Delfina empire jumped the shark? I doubt it. Uptowners will flood the new location, just as Missionites will continue to queue down on the flats. But something about this new expansion just doesn’t sit quite right with me. I wish the Delfina team the best, of course, but I hope they’ll save me a stool down at 18th street.