ICYMI, San Francisco is having a pizza renaissance. Once known mostly for our Cali-style pies topped with healthy green things and exotic cheeses, the City is now home to a variety of doughy and cheesy transplants. We're a pizza town, however you slice it.
If it's diverse slices you're after, take our guide to the seven major styles of pizza available in San Francisco—think everything from New York to Indian and "neo-Detroit"—and where to chow down now.
Neapolitan Pies: Award-Winning Pizza in SF
The original Italian import relies on the simple goodness of hand-tossed dough, Italian plum tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, basil, and an optional dusting of parmesan. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana(1570 Stockton St.) imports many of its ingredients from Italy and uses the Cirigliano wood-fired oven that owner Tony Gemignani was awarded after one of his many wins at the World Pizza Cup in Naples. // As the Michelin Guide notes, A16(2355 Chestnut St.) is known for rustic Italian cooking, which includes pizza toppings such as house-made salami. A16 also sells homemade pizza dough and kits. // Flour+Water Pizzeria(temporarily closed at 702 Valencia St.) offers traditional toppings, but you’re encouraged to order a mixture of your own. // Nob Hill’s Del Popolo(855 Bush St.) serves up stellar Neapolitan-inspired pies made from naturally leavened dough. In addition to take-out and eat-in options, you can also buy their blast frozen pizzas around the Bay Area.
The Best New York-Style Slices in SF
Immigrants from Naples jumbo-sized their thin-crust import when upping their game for New Yorkers. The large slices need to remain flexible enough to be folded since only an uncultured clod would use a “forchetta satanica” to eat NY pizza. Classic New York–style toppings are simple: marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. The aptly named Escape from New York Pizza(multiple locations) serves up slices and whole pies. // Firepie(3498 Cesar Chavez St. and 3228 16th St.) uses a 900-degree Italian wood-fired oven to bake its blistered East Coast beauties in 90 seconds. // Transplants from New York flock to The Pizza Shop(3104 24th St.) for the white pizza options. // Since the mid-1970s, Arinell Pizza(509 Valencia St.) has been crafting “less is better” classics.
California-Style Pizzas in San Francisco
This thin crust homeboy is normally single-serving and known for nontraditional toppings such as kale, figs, truffles, goat cheese, paté, and duck sausage. The style was developed simultaneously in the early 1980s by local chefs Ed LaDou and Alice Waters. La Dou would go on to start the California Pizza Kitchen(53 Third St.), which continues to surprise diners with new creations as well as old favorites such as Jamaican Jerk and Santa Fe Chicken. // Pizzeria Delfina(3611 18th St. and 2406 California St.) specializes in fresh seasonal toppings on crisp and lightly charred pies. // Pizzetta 211(211 23rd Ave.) features a rotating selection of pizzas with seasonal toppings that currently include ingredients such as fried sage, kale, roasted butternut squash, crescenza cheese, and garlic confit.
SF's Best Indian Pizzas
The newest style on this list originated in San Francisco in the late 1980s. Dalvinder Multani, an Indian immigrant who had been slinging pies in New York, opened Zante’s Pizza and Indian Cuisines(3489 Mission St.). The pizzas here are marked by intense, spicy flavors and a huge variety of toppings such as tandoori chicken, lamb, daal makhani, cauliflower, eggplant, ginger, and cilantro. // Although you can order pies with traditional toppings at Golden Gate Indian Cuisine and Pizza(4038 Judah St.) regulars order the chicken tikka masala pizza or the veggie pie covered with spinach curry sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, red onions, cauliflower, and eggplant. // Tadka Indian Restaurant(3066 24th St,) serves its thin crust paneer pizza with a sweet and a spicy chutney for dipping.
The Best Chicago-Style Pizza in SF
The dough for this deep dish style often includes cornmeal or semolina, which makes the thick crust crunchy and sometimes flaky rather than chewy. A heavy layer of tomato sauce blankets the mozzarella and other ingredients. At Little Star(846 Divisadero St. and 400 Valencia St.), the Classic—with sausage, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers—is the headliner. // Patxi’s Pizza(various locations) is also a go-to for Windy City transplants. // Capo’s(641 Vallejo St.) Chicago-style pizza is served with four types of crust: deep dish, cast iron pan, stuffed, and cracker thin. Each is made with Ceresota flour from one of the oldest mills in Chicago.
Sicilian-Style Pizza: The Best in SF
This thick and crusty tray pizza often packs a spicier punch than either Detroit or Chicago styles by including toppings such as anchovies, onions, and strong cheeses like toma and caciocavallo. The clam and garlic pizza at North Beach’s Golden Boy(542 Green St.) is legendary. // Nico's Sicilia Pizza(temporarily closed at 709 O’Farrell St.) serves square pies with slices cut on the diagonal to more easily slip into your pie-hole. // Check out Pizza Squared(885 Brannan St.) for unique pies such as Vodka Tomato, Mexican, and Clam Bacon. They also offer Detroit-style pizzas.
Detroit-Style Pizza: The Best Squares in SF
Similar to Sicilian, this style’s focaccia-like crust and square shape harken back to the tradition of baking it in blue steel auto part trays. Classic Detroit pizza is baked twice: The crust is baked, then topped, then baked again. Many Detroit style pizzas also use Wisconsin brick cheese, which is baked until the cheese caramelizes into a hard golden crust. The Square Pie Guys(1077 Mission St.) offer gluten-free pies that use Cup4Cup flour, developed by chef Thomas Keller. // Heaped with toppings, CellarMaker’s House of Pizza(3193 Mission St.) pairs its pies with an eclectic selection of fresh house brews. // Chef Dennis Lee is putting a Korean spin on “neo-Detroit” pies at Sunset Squares Pizza(59 9th St. and 553 Divisadero St.), which combines sourdough crust with a variety of nontraditional toppings such as grass-fed bulgogi beef and mapo tofu. // The pies at newcomer Joyride Pizza(411 Valencia St. and 730 Howard St.), from the team behind Samovar Tea, are made with two-day fermented focaccia dough and are almost too gorgeous to eat. Almost.