In the frenzy over blistered Neapolitan pizzas made with tomatoes blessed by a Catholic priest and quadruple zero flour, the appreciation for a plain ole cheese slice is in threat of extinction. Not to mention, when the urge strikes for a slice of hot, greasy goodness, waiting for a table at Delfina Pizzeria just won't cut it. A slice has to be fast, cheap, and in our control. (And preferably near a good dive bar.)
So who's got the best? After tasting my way through the city, I picked Tony’s Napoletana. It satisfies all cheese pizza requirements: Oozy mozzarella, tangy tomato sauce, a flavorful, chewy crust and a forbidden—yet delicious—trickle of grease. Very close runner-up: Arinell’s. Classic fold-and-go slices that hit the spot every time. Plus, pizza just tastes better with punk rock.
TONY'S PIZZA NAPOLETANA/ITALIAN SLICE HOUSE (North Beach) (photo above)
1570 Stockton St., 415-835-9888The most “gourmet” of the bunch, with a coal-fired oven cranking out New York, Sicilian, Detroit, and Romana-style slices.
Cheese to sauce ratio: Very saucy. Bright and fresh-tasting.
Grease factor: High. This one’s a blotter.
Crust: Soft in the middle (you’ll need two hands), with a pleasing note of smoke.
ARINELL PIZZA (Mission)
509 Valencia St., 415-255-1303
This hole-in-the wall serves up NY-style slices with plenty of attitude and a blaring soundtrack. Purely a to-go joint, there's no chairs or tables.
Cheese to sauce ratio: Proportional. Just the right amount of both, and the sauce has a pleasant tang.
Grease factor: Medium.
Crust: Crispy and thin, yet durable enough to fold.
GOLDEN BOY (North Beach)
542 Green St., 415-982-9738
You can’t miss the line snaking out of this beloved late-night haunt, a favorite of North Beach bar-goers. Speaking to the shape of their slice, their motto is "It's Hip to be Square." Ask for a corner.
Cheese to sauce ratio: Heavy on the cheese, but the seasoned sauce cuts through.
Grease factor: Low.
Crust: Sicilian-style and reminiscent of focaccia. Great crunch.
ZA GOURMET PIZZA (Russian Hill)
1919 Hyde St., 415-771-3100
A cozy neighborhood joint with a distinct Mom-and-Pop vibe. This is where you’d bring the kids. Gourmet in this case doesn't mean San Marzano tomatoes
Cheese to sauce ratio: Proportional.The sauce is tart but slightly sweet.
Grease factor: Medium.
Crust: Thin, crispy, and cornmeal-dusted.
4077 18th St., 415-487-0777
One of the many locations of this pizza joint, the nondescript space is quiet in the afternoon but bumping once the bars close. Bonus: They’re open til 2am.
Cheese to sauce ratio: A load of cheese blankets this slice.
Grease factor: High.
Crust: Thick and crispy. Definitely the most dough-y.