When Sheila and I moved to Glen Park, our friends, neighbors, and even realtor, commented about how great the local pizza joint, Gialina, was. Soon enough we started reading the accolades from GQ Magazine, Sunset Magazine, The SF Chronicle, and Check Please Bay Area. Needless to say the foodies are right on, Gialina is fantastic and is turning Glen Park into a food destination!
It's been 18 months and we've physically eaten there twice and ordered taken at least 6 times. That's partly because the restaurant is quite small with only 30 seats and wait can be upwards of 45 mins. However it's very much a warm cozy interior with open kitchen, small tables, and large scale family photos on the bright red walls. The menu is straightforward with several starter salads, a dozen pizzas, and a few desserts. The chef and owner, Sharon Ardiana, prides herself on using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Some pizzas like the (1) Atomica and (2) Margherita are always on the menu. The others like the (3) Pesto w/ chard, olives, & ricotta and (4) Zucca w/ ricotta, sage, & brown butter are based on what produce is available.
We've tried all four of the above, but I'll be focusing on (1) and (2). Although Gialina does not have wood burning ovens, it's able to produce some of the best tasting crust - puffy on the edges, slightly blackened with a chewy taste remaining. As food critic Michael Bauer notes the secret to this amazing crust is because (a) the yeast to flour ratio is low; (b) the dough is wetter than most, and (c) allowed to proof overnight. Whatever the secret, i can't get enough. The Atomica is out of this world good. It's topped with tomato sauce, red onions, chillies, mushroom and mozzarella. It has a kick to it with the chillies but not overpowered by heaps of mozzarella (just a few shavings). Sheila orders without mushrooms and I with - works either way. As for the Margherita, the dough comments definitely apply. The tomato sauce tastes extremely fresh, as does the mozzarella slices. With SF gourmet pizza restaurants all known for their Magherita, it's tough to differentiate Gialina from Delfina, Zero Zero, or Una Pizza Napoletana; which is praise indeed!
For dessert, we've had the Tiramisu and Chocolate Pistachio Cake. The Tiramisu is quite good. Sheila's way to gauge is whether it's too "rummy", which Gialina's one is not. We've ordered it to go on several occasions. The ladyfingers are moist with the right level of coffee and rum infusion; the mascapone cheese not overly sweet; and the cocoa powder gives a good bitterness. However the Chocolate Pistachio Cake, which we ordered once, was a bit dry and the pistachios overpowered any true chocolate flavor. In a pinch if the cake was all they had, I would rather head into Canyon Market across the street for their selection of great dessert.
Few things to keep in mind. The key to enjoying Gialina pizzas is to have it piping hot! We've noticed that once the pizza cools off, the flavors become subdued. There are also some inconsistencies in crust, especially between types of pizza. This is probably because of the high volume of orders that come through the cramped kitchen. The pizzas are around $15 each, which is expensive when compared to the competition. Lastly the wait can be long, but Glen Park has several quaint shops to keep you occupied.
Make the trek to Glen Park, not cuz we live there, but to taste amazing pizza. You won't second guess any of the praise lauded on this local eatery. Mangia tutti!