Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
It’s funny how you can get used to something. I did an interview the other day over coffee at Café Flore in the Castro and the cappuccino I was served was topped with a good inch of fluffy, bubble-bath foam and—get this—no leaf! No heart. No lion or eagle. It was like a throwback cappuccino from 2004 before Ritual and Blue Bottle set up shop and made me think twice. I had to laugh at how shocked I was.
Speaking of Italian tradition, I got to Farina Pizza the other night. First of all, it’s so very Italian in that there’s techno music on. You don’t get that at Pizzeria Delfina, which is clearly their closest competitor in proximity. The menu doesn't offer those whimsical Cal-Ital salad choices I’ve grown accustomed to like Little Gems with green goddess dressing, avocado, and hazelnuts (now on Delfina’s menu). Instead, there’s verdure di ripasso (or as it was translated, “pan-seared seasonal vegetables") which turned out to be an uninspired plateful of zucchini.
However in many ways, because of this lack of California-style riffing, Farina feels like a much more authentic Italian experience overall. The straightforward menu is largely made up of pizza topped with variations on tomato and mozzarella. And the pizza itself is great. It tastes even better when you’re seated at one of the communal tables, as I was, alongside some real Italians. Speaking Italian. And using their hands deftly to do so.
Because I’m nosey (or chatty, depending on your opinion), I had to butt in and ask the three men if they were indeed enjoying their pizza. Nothing like an Italian stamp of approval. They said loved it—that in their opinion, it only came second to Tony's in North Beach. One of them had on a Pixar sweatshirt and it turned out that not only is he a V.P. there, but he is the voice of Guido in the movie Cars!
Now if that’s not a moment of San Francisco meeting Italy right in the middle.