Becoming an empty-nester in life is one thing, but when both of your offspring leave town within a month of each other—that’s tough. Living in Nashville gave me thoughts of writing a country song called “Mama Cries a Lot.” But, having one son, The Philosopher, living in Pittsburgh, and the other, The Kid, living in San Francisco, does come the benefit of expanding The Pizza Snob’s universe.
So, Mrs. Pie and I made our first trip to the City by the Bay to visit The Kid and Mrs. Kid. In planning my pizza pickings, I was most thankful to this article at Serious Eats for giving me some direction. The first of the recommendations I encountered was Arinell Pizza which we stumbled upon while shopping in the Mission District. (They also have another location across the Bay in Berkeley.)
The Mission District is like many San Francisco areas—new storefronts mixed amongst the old with some sections that are just downright dirty and creepy. The Arinell space was an older location with a tiny room, but one that was certainly safe and clean and oozing of pizza charm.
Stepping up to the counter, the choices were confusing in that their New York- style was called “Neopolitan” (with an “O” and usually referring to what came out of Naples, Italy) and their Sicilian was described as “deep dish” (which usually points to Chicago). There were also nods to the healthy California foodies that their pie contained no sugar or MSG and that salt was only used in the leavening process. Of course I chose a slice of the “Neo” for $3.00, and we took seats at stools at the small front side counter during its reheat.
Although my slice arrived in a normal cut, I observed that the whole pies were long and oblong in shape.
Served nice and hot, the slice looked thin and promising. Sauce, cheese, oil and crust content all looked well-blended and proportionate although the end crust was a bit puffed. Turns out it was quite tasty once connected to my pizza sensors.
However, it was not very crisp with the bottom crust carrying no char to speak of. In fact, it was this flat-tasting foundation that held back this otherwise good slice from a better rating. It was also too light and fluffy for my liking. (Maybe some sugar would have made the dough perform better?) The end crust was most disappointing. In fact, I pulled it off, and it was like eating a soft breadstick. Crust aside, Arinell’s slice was otherwise right on the money.
All said, I enjoyed the slice, but wouldn’t go out of my way to come back. Then again, if I was passing by craving a good slice of pizza, I wouldn’t hesitate to pop in and grab one.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****Near Perfection
509 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110