In an already crowded restaurant scene, Farina Pizza opened it's doors at the corner of Valencia & 18th. Yes, this puts is within walking distance of five other venerable spots - Pizzeria Delfina, Beretta, Arnell's, Little Star, and Mozzeria. So what differentiates Farina from the others - the Italian imports, literally - from the ingredients and countertops, to the gas oven and chefs. Farina prides itself on replicating the authentic neapolitan experience, which is rare in a era when SF restaurant have touted the concept of farm to table, organic, and sustainable.
One recent Tuesday evening, Sheila and I decided to spontaneously visit this beautifully designed spot of clean white subway tiles, carrera marble counters, harvest wood tables, stainless steel fixtures, and artisan glass. We arrived around 6:30pm and had the option of sitting at a communal table or the bar. We decided on the bar which overlooks the pizza prep station and oven. Good thing we got there early, because within 30 mins the place was packed and there was a pretty long wait list. Needless to say, they don't take reservations.
The menu combines several fresh salads, pizzas, and pastas - made in the traditional Italian style with imported produce. We went straight for the pizza with each of us ordering our own (margherita and ortolana)
The margherita pizza (San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, romano cheese, olive oil, basil) was served piping hot from the gas oven as it should be; we actually watched the entire preparation from our seats. The crust was slighted charred and not too salty. It had a great chewy factor (glutenous) which we've found to be a hallmark of neapolitan pies. The fior di latte mozzarella was silky smooth and wonderfully delicious. Sheila found the pizza to also have a nice cheese to tomato ratio. She would rate the magherita as better than Zero Zero and equally on par with Keste and Co in NYC. However, she prefers Delfina's crust. Although there something to be said about Farina's ambience and overall experience.
Ortolana pizza (fior di latte mozzarella, eggplant, mushrooms, and bell peppers) - Similar to the magherita this crust was chewy. I thought it lacked a bit of seasoning, but nevertheless had a good balance of char and gluten. The eggplants, mushrooms, and bell pepper had been roasted with olive oil, but yet retained their earthy flavors. I agree with Sheila's assessment of the fior di latte mozzarella, one of the best I've ever had. The only thing missing for me was some sauce, after a while the pizza started to dry out. Overall good balanced flavors, but I'll try a different pie next time.
All in all, cool new hot spot in the Mission. This gives us another traditional neapolitan pizza place to add to our list. And at $15 per pie, the price point is on par with the others listed above. If you want the closest thing to classic Italian pizza, go to Farina. It's worth checking out.