Legend has it that Italy’s Queen Margherita so admired the red, white, and green of her nation’s flag that pizzaiolos in Naples named their tomato, mozzarella, and basil-leaf pizzas after her. A properly made pizza margherita is one of Italy’s proudest achievements, and the San Francisco Bay Area is one of three or four places in the world where it achieves a state of perfection. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 margheritas Bay Area Chowhounds like to show off to their out-of-town friends.
2. DEL POPOLO
Mobile, check Twitter for location details
Order a margherita cooked in an Italian-made wood-fired oven behind the glass wall of the Del Popolo truck, then dig into a basil-heavy pie with a chewy crust (pictured).
4. FLOUR + WATER
2401 Harrison Street, San Francisco
Arrive either very early or very late to this Mission District restaurant, where half the tables are reserved for walk-ins and a multiple-hour wait is a given (even for the late Steve Jobs). Follow that margherita with chocolate budino.
66 Franklin Street, Oakland
The wood-fired crust at this new spot in Oakland’s Jack London Square has already impressed with its perfect balance of chewy and crispy. Place your order, then chill in the outdoor dining area warmed by fire pits.
337 Third Street, San Francisco
A dark horse you won’t see lighting up Foursquare or a glossy magazine’s best-of list, but Chowhounds say there’s just something about the margherita here. Good news for tourists: It’s walkable from both Union Square and SFMOMA.
5008 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
Crushed tomatoes lend a gently sweet flavor to the wood-fired beauties at this restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Order a gin and tonic (the latter’s house-made) as a treat before dinner. The identical margherita emerges from the oven at Pizzaiolo’s Grand Lake spin-off, Boot and Shoe Service (3308 Grand Avenue, Oakland, 510-763-2668).
8. PIZZERIA DELFINA
Mission District location
3611 18th Street, San Francisco
Pacific Heights location
2406 California Street, San Francisco
Intense tomato flavor and a chewy crust recommend the margherita at this pizzeria with two locations. Pacific Heights has better seating (especially for large groups) and an extended menu, but ‘hounds give the Mission original the edge for consistency.
9. TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA
1570 Stockton Street, San Francisco
With its airy, charred crust, this deeply satisfying pizza is among the very best in the city, according to devoted pizza eater joe_can_bike, and it won the World Pizza Cup in Naples. Tony’s makes only 73 STG (an Italian initialism for “guaranteed typical specialty”) margheritas per day.
10. UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA
210 11th Street, San Francisco
A cult favorite from pizza chef Anthony Mangieri, who moved his operation from New York to San Francisco in 2010, this place gets high marks for its zenlike simplicity: few choices, no substitutions, just a classic Neapolitan margherita made with buffalo mozzarella and obsessiveness.
Photo of Del Popolo pizza by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
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