A new pizzeria in North Beach serves up classic Roman pasta and other unusual pizzas sprinkled with spicy chili crisps.
Located near Washington Square Park, this sprawling 4,000-square-foot space features a full-fledged dining and bar area, as well as a glass-enclosed “dough room,” where the team prepares and ferments dough while you dine. You can see how it works. The restaurant is bright, modern and airy, with wall hangings of cardboard pendant lights that reflect the retro pizza culture. Stockton Street is also home to a pizza shop with vintage arcade game machines and a separate entrance for those wanting to buy pizza to take home. This week, the pizzeria is ditching the foldable thin crust “Big Slice” in favor of thicker Sicilian-style square slices.
The main restaurant’s pizza is “absolutely” not Neapolitan, but that’s an easy mistake, said co-chef Ryan Polonau. This is closer to East Coast pizza, using his oven on deck set at 600 degrees Fahrenheit to create a structured dough reminiscent of a New York slice store. The surface of the pizza is puffed up like a typical Neapolitan pizza, giving it even more flavor.
Several favorites from the original menu have returned, while others, such as the vegetarian eggplant pie, have been tweaked. Wash it all down with a glass of Flower and Water house wine ($14-15 per glass) or a Biscotti Espresso Martini ($15) thanks to the newly added full bar.
We visited and there were many things we liked. Here are 6 things to try:
A tequila-based slush from Flour + Water Pizzeria.
boozy slushy ($15): Not only is this tequila-based slush bright orange, but it also has plenty of orange flavor thanks to Fiero L’Aperitivo vermouth and orange juice. One sip of passion fruit will make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation in the city. Best of all, it’s thick and not frozen like slush. This aperitif-inspired slush is part of a cocktail list developed in collaboration with Elmer Mexicanos of North Beach cocktail bar Red Window. Slush flavors change throughout the year.
cherry tomato ($11): Tomato season. The yellow and red cherry tomatoes were juicy and sweet as expected. Garlic breadcrumbs add crunchiness and aioli adds a touch of richness, making this dish a delight in texture. Fresh horseradish gave it a kick. Tomato, like other restaurants in the group, is he one of the seasonal dishes on the menu. In the future, heirloom tomatoes may be substituted for appetizers, Polnow said.
Mosstick + Marinara ($10): Who doesn’t like mozzarella sticks? This appetizer is one of those old restaurant returnees. Mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin is dipped into Venetian dough, similar to tempura in northern Italy, and used in the Italian fried seafood dish fritto misto. It is then wrapped in breadcrumbs mixed with parsley and oregano, and finally fried for a crispy exterior that brings out the strings of cheese. Dip it in marinara sauce or order a side of the ranch for $1.50.
hawaiian pie ($22): There are 10 different pizzas on the Flour + Water menu. 5 red pies and 5 white pies, each with 6 slices. The dough takes four days and is made with 20% poulish, a type of poulish made from flour, water and commercial yeast. As the dough ferments, Pohlnow said it develops a slight sourness, even though it’s not sourdough.
A new addition to the menu, this pizza is not your typical Hawaiian pie. Thinly sliced pineapple and capicola (dry-aged pork salme) layered over tomato sauce and aged mozzarella cheese. It’s then topped with fresh mozzarella, pickled Fresno chiles, and fried basil chilli crisps for added spiciness and punchy flavor. With its crispy crust, this pizza will satisfy those who love sweet and savory foods but don’t mind spicy.
A pie inspired by Cacho e Pepe at San Francisco’s new Flower + Water Pizzeria.
cacho e pepe pie ($20): Also on the new menu, this pie is like eating the team’s more casual Penny Roma cacio e pepe, but without the pasta. Based on aged mozzarella with a crunchier dough, it’s decadent and cheesy, topped with crushed black pepper and more cheeses (fresh mozzarella, pecorino crema, fontina). The pie also has garlic in it, which cuts some of the richness out of it, even though this is not a traditional Roman pasta dish.
Soft cream ($7): Dessert menu includes only two soft serve flavors: Fior di Latte or Salted Caramel. Fior di latte, meaning milk flower, is made with a standard buffalo milk gelato base using Sonoma County’s Double 8 dairy. You can swirl the two together (the fior di latte wasn’t available at the time of our visit), but the salted caramel alone was a nice sweet end to the meal, especially topped with the brown butter cereal crunch. The silky-smooth soft serve, also part of the original Flour + Water Pizzeria, is rich and creamy, but not overwhelmingly creamy. Other toppings ($1) include olive oil and sea salt, amarena cherries, chocolate cookie crumbs, and more, as well as seasonal options like stone fruit jam.
Flour + water pizzeria. Daily from 11:30am to 10:00pm. 532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco. fwpizzeria.com
Please contact Matt Yan: Matt.Yan@sfchronicle.com
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