Gadaldi's "Roman-style" thin-crust pizzas, cooked in a wood-fired oven, vary in quality. When it's done right — as it was at lunch one day, when the smaller crowd gave the cooks more time to focus — the dough bubbles and puffs around the edges, airy and smoke-tinged, with a papery crispness that holds up to the tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings (in this case, mushrooms and fresh thyme, $14). On a busy night, the pizzas seemed to lose that elegance, toughening up around the edges while the center was undercooked and still floppy. On the prosciutto pizza ($15), showered in baby arugula leaves, the oven-crisped slices of cured meat seemed to compensate for the crust, but slices of the margherita, sogged down by pools of burrata ($14), stayed on the tray. And this is pizza we're talking about.

Rich Higgins' beer list, which closely resembles the one he does for Starbelly, is composed with the same care as a sommelier's wine list. The bottle list has both playful (21st Amendment's watermelon wheat in a can) and recherché (Le Baladin Nora, an Egyptian-style ale from Italy) picks. The 13 draft beers, mostly local, range from kolsch to stout, with a marked preference for lesser-hopped, crisp beers that pair well with food. Higgins' tasting notes are on the mark — holy crap, that really was bubblegum in the Gordon Biersch Dampfbier — and I'm grateful for the introduction to the North Coast Le Merle; my dining companions had their eyes on other beers, but the moment we tasted the fruity, citrus-inflected Saison it was Le Merles all around.

Pi Bar works as a good neighborhood beer bar with the occasional snack, while Delarosa seems like it's a matter of bringing execution up to speed with the concept (or waiting until the first blast of popularity fades and the kitchen isn't overburdened). But the crowds at both show that the upscale pizza obsession is still not played out.

Dudes at the Pi Bar, like dudes everywhere, are drawn to pints and pizza.
Jen Siska
Dudes at the Pi Bar, like dudes everywhere, are drawn to pints and pizza.

Location Info

Map

Pi Bar

1432 Valencia
San Francisco, CA 94110

Category: Restaurant > Pizza

Region: Mission/ Bernal Heights

Details

Pi Bar
1432 Valencia (at 25th St.), 970-9670, www.pibarsf.com. Daily 3:14 p.m.-midnight. Reservations: no. Muni: 14, 48. Noise level: loud.

Delarosa
2175 Chestnut (at Steiner), 673-7100, www.delarosasf.com. Daily 11:30 -1 a.m. Reservations: recommended at dinner. Muni: 22, 28, 30, 43. Noise level: quite loud.

Pi Bar, 1432 Valencia (at 25th St.)
Delarosa, 2175 Chestnut (at Steiner)

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More About

Familiarity aside, what makes upscale pizza such a reliable option for so many of us is that it hits the sweet spot in terms of price. About $20 to $25 a person gets us a salad, a pint or a cocktail, and a few slices of pizza. More importantly, $25 allows us to spend a few hours with friends in a buzzy, well-designed room with buzzy, well-designed people. Now that's definitely a social movement that most San Franciscans ascribe to.

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