San Francisco's Zero Zero

Arancini, Margherita Extra, and vanilla soft-serve topped with olive oil and sea salt from San Francisco's Zero Zero

With a historic Pride Festival going on and quite possibly the best weather the city has ever seen in June, what better place to spend this Sunday than San Francisco. I've been on the hunt for the best pizza in the Bay Area for years, and Zero Zero was high on my list of places yet to try. Its name, Zero Zero, comes from 00 flour – the type used in Italy to make pizza dough. I've heard good things about Zero Zero's Neapolitan-style pizza, particularly that it's authentic Italian pizza and locally sourced ingredients.

A comprehensive menu full of interesting Italian specialties and unique finds, in a great location in SoMa, and I was sold on Zero Zero. I was able to make reservations on Open Table, and I was shocked at how quick and easy that was. We ended up at the restaurant a bit early, but the hostess had no problem seating us before our time. The restaurant is a good place to go out with friends, with many cocktails and beers on tap and a lounge vibe. Upscale but still comfortable, it's easy to see why Zero Zero is such a happening spot in San Francisco.

The Location

Zero Zero is located in San Francisco's SoMa district, on Folsom Street between 4th Street and 5th Street. It's about a half mile walk from the Powell BART station. The restaurant is really easy to find, just around the corner from the Metreon and Moscone Center. Finding street parking could be a challenge though, so I strongly recommend taking public transportation if possible. If you must drive, valet parking is available, but it'll cost you $12.

Address: 826 Folsom St

San Francisco, CA 94107

Phone: (415) 348-8800

The Hours

  • Sunday – Thursday 1130 hours – 2200 hours
  • Friday and Saturday 1130hours – 2300 hours

The Ambiance

From the outside, Zero Zero looks like a typical San Francisco restaurant or lounge. You'd never guess how spacious this restaurant is inside, with seating upstairs and downstairs. A long bar downstairs provides plenty of seating for people just there for a drink off the menu of interesting cocktails, as well as people who don't mind eating at the bar. The open kitchen is also downstairs, and if you're seated nearby you can watch the chefs in action. We were seated upstairs, right in front of the window for prime people-watching, both out on the street and in the restaurant.

Zero Zero is an upscale and trendy city establishment with a perfect playlist (seriously, can someone from Zero Zero make their playlist available online?). If I had only one word to describe the ambiance of Zero Zero, it would be “dark,” – with some globe lights, and that's about it. The mood is romantic and intimate, while simultaneously quite lively.

The Service

Fantastic. Our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu and all of the restaurant's fine ingredients and had no problem answering our questions about some of the more unusual offerings. He had great recommendations, and was friendly and attentive. Though the restaurant has an upscale vibe, there was nothing pretentious or stuffy about him. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

The Price

Great for what you get. Pizzas run about $15 to $19 for a pie you can share (if you plan to get appetizers or dessert) or have it all to yourself. Pasta dishes range around $18 to $23, which is in line with other Italian restaurants in the city.

The Food

Zero Zero specializes in pizza, but its menu has much more to offer – a list of crudo selections, antipasti (appetizers), bruschetta, and salads. While a number of the bruschetta and antipasti piqued my interest, I settled on the arancini, because they're not something I've found often outside of Italy. Arancini, meaning “little oranges” in Italian, are fried balls of risotto. Zero Zero's version are stuffed with Taleggio, a type of cheese our waiter described as similar to brie. The arancini are served in a black garli aioli, and garnished with arugola. The combination was heavenly. Melted cheese oozed out of the crispy arancini, and the sauce was the perfect complement.

Nine regular pizzas are offered at Zero Zero, many of which are named after San Francisco streets like Fillmore, Geary, and Divisadero. They also offer a seasonal special. Since it was Pride weekend, and well, since it sounded delicious, the Castro caught my eye – a pizza topped with tons of sausage. However, I've found that it's a good standard to judge a pizzeria by it's Margherita, so I went with the Margherita Extra, the version with buffalo mozzarella. The pizza was really good – the thin chewy crust held up well with the gooey toppings. The buffalo mozzarella was tasty, but a little milder than I expected. It also had the same downfall as most other pizzas with buffalo mozzarella: not enough of it. The sauce was plentiful and a little sweet. Overall a very satisfying pizza, and I will absolutely return to try some of the other great combos.

I don't usually order dessert, but Zero Zero offers organic soft serve ice cream from Straus Dairy. The waiter handed us dessert cards and mini-pencils to fill out the build-your-own-sundae. Though we were hesitant, we went with the vanilla soft serve, topped with Fiordolio olive oil and sea salt – because where else can you get that? It sounds pretty strange, but they wouldn't serve it if it wasn't good, right? That's what we were counting on anyway, and our waiter assured us it was good and the type of oil used was especially fruity. We also considered getting the salt and olive oil on the side, in case we didn't like it, but I'm glad we didn't. The chef had injected the olive oil into the ice cream in various places, and sprinkled it with with just the right amount of sea salt. The combination was unusual, but the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream was tempered by the salt and olive oil, balancing it perfectly.

I'll be back to try the brunch (brunch pizza, anyone?) and for more of the regular menu. I can see Zero Zero quickly moving into my regular rotation.


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Published On: Monday, July 1st, 2013