Saturday, April 3, 2021

San Francisco Pizza Walking Tour

 Another episode of an activity that is truly our new favorite family tradition!  In honor of an upcoming birthday, we all met at the top of the parking garage with perhaps the most gorgeous view in the world and began a "circle eight" double loop tour of pizzerias, covering about eight miles and four pizzerias and having a ton of fun.

Happy yet?  The girls with their cousin and a good friend

Mom and I, enjoying the views of the bay and North Beach from the top of the parking garage

At Lotta's Fountain, which is where people gather every year at the exact time the 1906 earthquake struck to commemorate the event (the year we attended - at 5AM! - we were relocated to Union Square due to a bomb scare (false alarm)

A photo of everyone on our fabulous tour

This is H not sharing, while eating - devouring - a piece almost as big as him.  

Down at the wharf, watching the sea lions
Waiting for everyone to arrive; looking forward to a day that turned out to be spectacularly fun

Our planning got assistance from this blog (thank you very much) and we combined these recommendations with some practical considerations about reasonable walking distance for a group that was to range in age from 83 to 3.  (Though my Dad decided not to come, which was disappointing.)  

First of all, my planning was flawed - as usual I had other things going on and didn't completely research everything.  After all, half the fun is just wandering with a purpose and seeing what happens!  The first result of this lack of thoroughness is that we discovered that three of the pizzerias didn't open until four or five.  Honestly, that just didn't occur to me.  I had checked the web sites of each and made sure that they had either takeout or outdoor seating, but not open on a Saturday afternoon?  Weird.  Anyway, that seemed to be remedied by reversing our planned circle eight and doing the northern circle first.  So we walked from the Vallejo Street parking garage (best view ever) to the Carmel Pizza Company near the wharf.  They were closed!  No explanation, no hours listed, and their web site said open.  So that was a bust.  But we were at the wharf and that's never bad, so we walked around and looked at the sea lions, discovering a new view of them away from the crowds and a cool relief map of the SF Bay.

Next stop:  Tony's Pizza Napoletana, back in North Beach.  We had HUGE slices of pizza, really good, and I discovered that pizza actually stimulates the appetite (I hadn't thought I was hungry until I ate).  The best part was watching my three-year old nephew eat a piece almost as big as he was, clearly with no intent to share with his sister, despite occupying her lap for that purpose.  

From there, we split some to-die-for pastries from Stella's Italian Bakery on Columbus and spent some time at the City Lights Bookstore.  Then we walked through the Financial District to Pizzeria Delfina at Mission and 3rd.  The kids had more pizza and the adults tasted it while having a delicious burrata/arugula salad (most of us) and a falafel (Elizabeth).  I thought the pizza was fine, not memorable though... but the servers were super nice and that's always great.

Next stop:  Back to Market Street, then past Union Square to Delpopolo at 855 Bush.  Really, really unique and good.  The kids stuck to pizza, but discovered that their pizza had goat cheese... and they loved it.  Elizabeth and I split a very unique roasted carrot/greens/farro dish and Len ordered some pear dessert that we all had a nibble of and it absolutely melted in our mouths.  Definitely a place to return to - unique and delicious.

From there, we went back to North Beach to Tomasso's, which is the oldest pizzeria in San Francisco.  (At least, I read that somewhere - looking now at their web site, they don't claim that.)  In any case, the pizza got rave reviews from the kids and I shared an excellent veggie antipasto with my mom.  Len, Elizabeth, and H seemed to love their caprese salad, though H couldn't seem to get enough tomatoes.  :-)

Len kept track of the ratings as we went and now I forget what they are.  I think that Tomasso's, Tony's, and Delpopolo were all vying to be favorites; definitely worth revisiting for the food, service, and atmosphere. They all had outdoor dining and the views from outdoors really are such an added benefit of Covid - sitting outside allows for great views of North Beach (Tony's), the African Diaspora Museum (Delfina), the Fire Chief's residence (Delpopolo), and the financial district (from North Beach) (Tomasso's).   Everywhere we went, everyone was masked, but with vaccinations on the rise (I got my second shot before we left today; yay) you could tell that the crowds were beginning to remerge from Covid hiding.

A happy almost-birthday to an amazing kid, too!  She celebrated in a special way, by driving almost the whole way there (not an easy feat in SF traffic).

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