Pizza Smackdown

SoCal chain goes head to head with hometown favorite

Two other great choices involve pork products from Louisiana. The Cajun-style combo of andouille, bell peppers, green onions, and fontina highlights the flavor of the lean ham sausage. Tasso (extra-smoky ham) sometimes appears in a similar daily special; if that's not on the chalkboard, the tasso makes a great single-topping pizza.

Every night there are two special pizzas, one vegetarian, one not. One veggie combo highlighted the mild, fruity flavor of roasted Carmen chiles with judicious amounts of garlic and basil. A meat combo with tasty Italian sausage, heirloom Costata Romanesco zucchini, and ricotta salata (like feta, but drier) was, to my taste, too dominated by lemon verbena, but my companions loved it.

Desserts, once a weak spot, now rank among the best in town. The fabulous butterscotch pudding is defiantly crafted for the adult palate: easy on the sugar, liberal with the salt, and a long, intense caramel finish. The bitter, barely sweet, ultra-dark chocolate mousse might also frighten small children. Olive oil gelato brings out the fruitiness of the olives, and it is served with a sprinkling of fancy salt in which you can dip each bite. Those sophisticated regular items are supplemented by homier, more G-rated daily specials such as a warm peach crisp, a trio of melon, plum, and strawberry sorbets, and a sundae of peanut butter and coconut ice creams with caramel and chocolate sauces.

Pauline's wins the bake-off.
Jen Siska
Pauline's wins the bake-off.

Location Info


California Pizza Kitchen

53 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94103-3151

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights

Pauline's Pizza

260 Valencia
San Francisco, CA 94103

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights


California Pizza Kitchen, 54 Third St. (between Mission and Market), 278-0443, Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations for eight or more only. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: difficult. Muni: 2, 7, 14, 21, 66, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N. Noise level: moderate.

Large Mediterranean salad $13.29

California Club pizza $12.29

Chocolate soufflé cake a la mode 6.79

Pauline's Pizza, 260 Valencia (between Duboce and 14th Street), 552-2050. Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations for eight or more only. Wheelchair accessible ground floor only. Parking: sometimes difficult. Muni: 26. Noise level: moderate.

Salads $7.00

Pesto pizza $13.50-20.75

Nightly special pizza $15.50-24.75

Desserts $6.00

California Pizza Kitchen
Pauline's Pizza

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If you haven't tried Pauline's, the pesto pizza demands a visit. If you're already a fan, the greatly improved desserts are a good excuse to head back soon.

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