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Monday, November 22, 2004

Pizzetta 211: at home in unexpected places

PizzettadedansI often find myself at home in the oddest of places. It's perhaps because I've lived in so many cities, and been to even more, that home has become less a real place than wherever I find myself content. Drinking coffee by the window at the cafe around the corner from Neal's Yard, in the cold, damp London air, losing myself in the early morning bustle of Borough market. Sipping a cup of Darjeeling in the tranquil salon at Mariage Frères. Strolling Crissy Field at sunrise watching my city awakens.

So it is of no surprise to me that my favorite neighborhood place of the moment is in fact all the way across town, a little pizza shop in the Outer Richmond called Pizzetta 211. The shop occupies a tiny but cheerful and welcoming space which is half taken up by the kitchen and the big pizza oven. There are two window box tables, perfect for lounging, that give a feeling of being outdoor while protected from the cold foggy air, and even a few actual outside tables and an attractive tree bench for more weather-proof souls.

PizzettabreakfastThe menu is small but inspiring, focusing on what they do really well rather than covering all choices in the universe. It is also constantly changing, with a few pizzas, salad, a couple of cheeses, a cake or two and a few other side items. Everything here is not only seasonal, but also sustainably, organically, or artisanally produced.

PizzettamargheritaThe pizza crust is thin and deliciously crisp. The toppings vary, but always with an old standby of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. In my rather narrow minded view on pizza, that is my choice, always. But other choices, namely, chantarelles, egg, and greens, and Fiore Sardo (a sheep's milk cheese), pine nuts, and rosemary have easily caught my companions' eyes. There are even some wine and a killer latte to accompany the food.

PizzettapotatoesMy formula at Pizzetta always covers a pizza or two, a brightly dressed green salad or a side of creamy potatoes, and perhaps an interesting cheese or two on offer that day. For dessert, I can rarely resist the perfect fondant au chocolat made of bitter Scharffen Berger chocolate. There is usually another cake or tart with berries or fruits as well: my favorite of late is a plain cake doused with fig and port syrup.

PizzettacakesPizzettasalad_1It is a kind of place that makes one feels welcome from the first step inside the door, a neighborhood kind of place, even if it isn't actually in my own. Happily, the memory of the drive across town evades as soon as I settle myself down in my favorite window box. Do give it a try, who knows, it might become yours too.

Pizzetta 211
211 23rd ave. (at California)
Wednesday to Fri day 12pm-2:30pm, 5pm-9pm
Saturday and Sunday 12pm-9pm

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