There was always a lot of pizza in the Upper Haight, but now that Indian restaurant Tikka Masala has rebranded itself as Tikka Masala & Pizza and nearby Great Indian Food also launched its own pizza, there is something of an arms race afoot. With all due respect to Zante, the wonderful Indian pizza restaurant in Bernal Heights, I compared slices from the two.
Aside from benefiting from garlic powder and chili flakes in equal amounts, they are different in almost every respect. Tikka Masala’s quarter-pie slice is twice as large for more than twice the price ($5.38 versus $2.16, after tax) and comes with more toppings, including roasted tomatoes. I had to ask the guy to re-heat it, though, because it was still limp and tepid when he served it to me.
Although Great Indian’s chicken was a bit more flavorful, when it came to sauce, Tikka Masala was the winner by a mile. Great Indian’s sauce is too sweet and tastes like it comes from a factory — as does the cheese.
The one area where subjectivity is a big factor is the crust. Neither was thin or crispy, but while Tikka Masala’s was salty enough that keep nibbling on once I’d eaten all the sauce and toppings, but it was tough. Great Indian’s wasn’t as flavorful, but the texture was better and it had a bit of char. But for me, the dead giveaway when ascertaining mediocre pizza is the section just inside the outer edge. If it bubbled or browned (Tikka Masala), great. If some dried sauce is poking from under the mozzarella (Great Indian) we have a problem.
Both restaurants were nearly empty at 1 p.m. I don’t like eating alone in cavernous spaces, and Great Indian is one big room. The newly renovated Tikka Masala is laid out better, and has sunlight. Even if you ignore ambience as a criterion, this was a case of getting what you pay for: Tikka Masala & Pizza was the winner.
Great Indian Food, 1793 Haight, 750-1313.
Tikka Masala & Pizza, 1668 Haight, 626-1756.