Way back in the pizza dark ages of 2004 (no, seriously), A16 was one of the first places to serve true Neapolitan pies, gorgeous wood-fired char and all. They’re still churning them out a decade later, where they pair quite nicely with Shelley Lindgren’s always on-point Italian wine selection.
2 Arinell Pizza
The undisputed master of the slice game, Arinell is the place to be at 12 p.m. (for a quick lunch before heading to the park), 12 a.m. (for drunk pizza), and everything in between. No frills, foldable, crisp, accompanied by fruit punch. Little else is required in this life.
3 Arizmendi Bakery
Arizmendi’s one-vegetarian-pie-per-day scheme leads to some awesome (if untraditional) pizza experiences, with the seasonal toppings like mushroom-red onion-goat cheese and artichoke-spinach-lemon-rosemary earning their fans. Check the calendar before you go in, and mark yours for the Super Bowl, the only day of the year they serve two different pies.
This is classic Adriano Paganini, the restaurateur behind this and other pizza-centric spots like Delarosa. Thin crust signature pies like one made with heirloom cherry tomatoes, ricotta, pesto, and scamorza have drawn Mission-dwellers and beyond for years, bolstered by the restaurant’s excellent antipasti and cocktails. (Pro tip: Go at brunch for the excellent carbonara pizza, with bacon, two eggs, mozzarella, pecorino and cracked black pepper.)
5 Del Popolo
This Neapolitan-style pizza shop started as a roving pie vendor with an unmistakable glass-encased truck (which is still on the streets), before turning brick-and-mortar this fall with a Nob Hill location. The wood-fired pizzas are courtesy of Flour + Water alum Jon Darsky, and they’re all beautifully blistered, seasonal, and delicious.
This Inner Richmond spot is much more than a pizza joint, but its pies are beyond reproach. The margherita is of course top dog, but the clam pie is also a must-try. Order a glass of Italian wine to sip while you wait, and ogle the ultimately Instagrammable “Bay Area Toile” wallpaper, featuring Alice Waters, E-40, and other local notables. Bonus: the heated back patio was recently redone, and it’s a joy to sit in when it’s nice out.
7 Gialina Pizzeria
Gialina’s is a friendly Glen Park restaurant with an excellent menu of starters and a daily roast, but its the pizza that inspires a daily line. Thin crust with the right amount of chew, and a selection of composed pies like the wild nettles with pancetta, red onions, and aged Italian provolone (limited nightly), and the Yukon gold pie with poatoes, bacon, red onions, thyme, and gorgonzola. It’s family-friendly, charming, and a tribute to chef Sharon Ardiana’s nonna, Gialina.
8 Gioia Pizzeria
Now offering its thin crust pizzas at the newer Russian Hill location, Berkeley-born Gioia is a reliable option for a pie or a slice, boasting inventive topping combos like radicchio and gorgonzola; spinach, ricotta, brown butter, and hazelnuts; or salami, Castelvetrano olives, and provolone.
9 Goat Hill Pizza
Goat Hill’s original location (it also has spots in West Portal and SoMa), is named after the goats that used to roam Potrero Hill, and is as much of a neighborhood favorite now as it was when it opened in 1975. The pizza is made with a sourdough crust and baked in a traditional brick oven. And while it’s tasty any night of the week, it’s especially great on “Neighborhood Night” (Mondays between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.) when it’s all-you-can-eat pizza and salad for $12.95. During that time the salad bar is self-serve and the pizza is served by waiters who dole out slices of whatever is fresh out of the oven. — Daisy Barringer
10 Golden Boy Pizza
No one’s going to be submitting Golden Boy for VPN certification, but when it comes to drunk slices, these guys do it right. The Sicilian slices will abate even the most dangerous of oncoming hangovers, the clam and garlic pizza is delicious, and the hours (until 2:30 am on weekends) are right.
11 Little Star Pizza
Little Star’s signature deep-dish is so good that it’s licensed the recipe — to a pizzeria in St. Louis that President Obama calls his all-time favorite. Winning the deep-dish devotion of a Chicagoan is no mean feat, but Little Star’s signature cornmeal crusts, super-fresh tomatoes, and delicious fillings are up to the task.
Located on one of SoMa’s grittiest corners, Montesacro is a diamond in the rough. Owned by a native of Rome, Gianluca Legrottiaglie, the restaurant is focused around pinsa, which is not categorized as pizza. It’s a Roman flatbread made from a flour composed of several grains, which is apparently more digestible — but if it’s got crust, tomato sauce, and cheese, we’re including it on this list. Parla says that it was originally a peasant food, made with whatever grains were on hand. Toppings run the gamut, but a popular option combines olives, prosciutto, hard-boiled egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, and artichokes.
13 Pauline’s Pizza & Wine Bar
Pauline’s has been serving its bready, crusty pizzas since 1985. The pesto pie has always been a standout, and the secret to that sauce is produce from owner Sidney Weinstein’s own East Bay organic garden, which also supplies Flour & Water and Chez Panisse. House wines are on the cheap side, and crayons and white paper table clothes are a hit with kids (and creative adults).
14 Piccino Cafe
This Dogpatch charmer now occupies a bigger space than it used to, but it still offers the same warm service and great pizza, like the funghi pie with roasted mushrooms and stracchino cheese or the salsiccia pizza with housemade sausage. The meatballs are also a must-order, while you’re there and all.
Owner Jeff Krupman toted his Frankenweber all over the Bay for five years before scoring his own location, making great pizzas without anything even approaching a real kitchen. If you haven’t tried his permanent home yet, you’ll be thrilled to know that the pies are even better than you remember, from the margherita to the delicious brussels sprout pie with bacon and chili paste.
16 Pizzeria Delfina
Craig and Annie Stoll’s Delfina spinoff is quickly becoming an empire, with more locations in Pac Heights, Burlingame, and Palo Alto. That’s probably because it’s one of the best the city has to offer, with a puffy crust that has nice char and delicious seasonal toppings. Classics like a Margherita will always win hearts and minds, while the salsiccia with housemade fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions, and mozzarella is also a popular order.
17 Pizzetta 211
Adorably petite Pizzetta 211 exemplifies the seasonality trend, with pizzas that change by the nanosecond to incorporate the best of what’s growing. The lines are omnipresent, but the cute 12-inch pies, like the white pie with rosemary and fiore sardo, are great. Be sure to get anything with a farm egg cracked on it.
18 The Mill
Initially known for its bodacious toasts made with Josey Baker Bread, The Mill is now also a destination for Josey’s sourdough crust pizza, served every evening from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. The seasonal pies change weekly, but expect combinations like corn, cotija, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño. A whole pie is $26, a slice is $3.50, and salad is $7; whole pies are available as plain cheese, or vegan.
19 Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Tony’s (as well as sister spot Capo’s and several Slice Houses around the Bay) is commendable not only for its quality, but for its breadth. Though he’s taken home umpteen Neapolitan pie-making prizes, Tony Gemignani is no purist: he’s equally interested in Sicilian, Detroit-style, Chicago deep-dish, and coal-fired pies, and in wild toppings like the Honey Pie. The man is a pizza polymath, and his combinations are delicious.
20 Una Pizza Napoletana
Anthony Mangieri isn’t known for his flexibility (good luck getting a salad or making any alterations to your pie), but he makes up for his curmudgeonliness with sheer margherita mastery that’s evident in every inch of his beautifully soft, perfectly charred crust and pristine toppings. Pizza acolytes come from across the globe for his pies.
21 Za Pizza
It’s a neighborhood spot that’s been serving its thin crust pizzas for over two decades. Choose your own toppings, or select one of the signature pies, like the Salvador Dali with roasted chicken, sundried tomatoes, pesto and tomato sauce. It’s small, so delivery is the best bet.
22 Zero Zero
Bruce Hill’s ever-popular SoMa-based pizza operation offers great pies like The Fillmore, loaded with mushrooms and fontina, or the Geary, with clams and Calabrian chile. The pastas, cocktails, and soft-serve are also great, for those who don’t feel like a pie.