Delarosa's Broccolini Bruschetta Trumps Even the Best of Pizzas

I was never one of those children (or adults) who had a problem with vegetables. If I had though, I'm pretty sure I would have made allowances for Delarosa's broccolini bruschetta. My new favorite way to eat these tiny trees of the produce world, tender baby broccoli is sautéed in pungent garlic, and served over oozing crescenza on thick crunchy slices of toasted baguette. Though the restaurant specializes in Roman-style wood-fired pizzas, I could easily have made a meal out of this appetizer option when I visited Delarosa's new location on Yerba Buena Lane last month.

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Located just next to the Westfield Shopping Centre and opposite Powell BART, the FiDi location is far more accessible than Adriano Paganini’s Marina pizzeria on Chestnut Street. The new digs have been opened since October, and the place was bustling for 6 p.m. on a Monday evening. Single light bulbs hang from the ceiling over six communal tables, each seating 10 to 12 diners. It's a tight space — one where you're more likely to make new friends than have a serious conversation. A busy open kitchen adds the clamor of pans and sizzle of browning onions to the clinking of glasses and steady roar of conversation. The overall ambience is chic, but casual. If you want to feel hip while eating something simple, this is the place to go.

I don't usually like sweet drinks, but the Miele Julep was worth my attention. Made with honey grappa and amaro montenegro mixed with ginger, lemon and mint, it was a sweet and simple while-you-wait sort of beverage. The wine list is also simple, with enough selections to choose from without veering toward option overload.

The pizza was pizza — wood-fired, hot, not overly complicated (which no pizza should be). I chose the prosciutto di parma with peppery arugula and shredded mozzarella, all served on a sturdy crust that was flexible, but not floppy. Maybe more Roman than Neapolitan.

For dessert, thick fried cannoli made the perfect vehicle for scooping creaming dollops of lemon gelato that had been doused in thick chocolate sauce; an excellent combination of flavors and textures with crunchy pistachios sprinkled throughout.

Still, the bruschetta was easily my favorite dish of the evening. With a broccoli-base I may even get away with calling it a health food.

Delarosa: 37 Yerba Buena Ln, 415-872-7363.

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