Hopes were high for famous pizza master, Bruce Hill’s new San Francisco outpost, Zero Zero. He’s most known for his legendary pies at Larkspur’s Pizzeria Picco, and San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer recently declared Zero Zero the “French Laundry of pizza”.
I’m sorry Mr. Bauer, but I have to kindly disagree.
We’d notified the Zero Zero staff that our table of 15 food bloggers were planning on descending on his new restaurant for Saturday brunch, so there was full disclosure. We are a critical, fun-loving, pizza loving bunch and Bruce himself decided to come out and say hello. His only request?…That we get loud and have fun while we were there. Check!
The space is perfect for large groups and beer loving, bar-hopping foodies. They’ve got two bars and plenty of space for large tables. The decor is very pub-like, but nothing particularly special or sophisticated. Just casual and comfortable.
So we ordered just about every pizza on the menu, including the Margherita, which is the standard by which all Neapolitan pizzas should be judged. This one had a good charred crust, fantastically flavorful yet mild and creamy mozzarella cheese and a fresh tomato sauce. I would’ve liked a little more zest or overall flavor from the sauce, though.
We also ordered the Townsend (garlic, potato and prosciutto), Mission (broccoli rabe, garlic, olives) and Fillmore pies (Hen of the Woods mushrooms, leeks, fontina). All were somewhat unspectacular and not particularly memorable.
But I really enjoyed the Geary, which had clams, tomato sauce, garlic and bacon. The combo of flavors on this one popped and made for the most memorable pie on the table.
We also ordered some Fried Chicken Thighs with Semolina Waffles. The waffles were slightly grainy because of the semolina but had a great flavor. The chicken, however, had a strange flavor that just didn’t work. One of the plates was even so disturbingly flavored that we informed the kitchen. It could’ve been rancid oil, or a dirty skillet that had leftover bits of flavor from a previous night. The staff was kind enough to offer a second plate of chicken on the house (and comped our other plate as well). I wish I could say it was good but it wasn’t. The breading was too thick and oddly flavored. But the chicken thigh itself was super juicy, tender and delicious.
All in all, I’d highly recommend this place for large parties or as a place to kick back at the bar that’s a definite step up from Bucca di Beppo or your neighborhood dive bar. A good place for groups is a great thing to have in your back pocket.
However, as a food blogger, I can’t say I’d ever go back for the pizza itself.
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