Neapolitan pizza abounds — and there is a long list of some of best pizzaiolos around residing in the Bay Area. California-style pies? Of course. Then there are those unique, only-in-SF legends like Golden Boy (since 1978) and Tommaso's (since 1935). Even Detroit-style pizza (at Tony's Pizza Napoletana) and other rarities are all over the Bay Area. But let's talk East Coast: NY- and NJ-style pizza, whether a greasy-good NY slice or Trenton tomato pie. Here are eight places — both new and established — to get your red sauce on.
For years, there was no other Jersey-style tomato pie in town but Tony’s Pizza Napoletana’s remarkable Jersey Tomato Pie (see below). But this March, Jersey opened in SoMa, turning out a Trenton tomato pie oozing with mozzarella, Parmesan and that blessed balance of perfectly sweet-savory tomato sauce. Pair with an elegant glass of dry, dreamy 2013 Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling from NY’s Finger Lakes and start with ‘nduja prosciutto spread on crostini piled high with fluffy sheep’s milk ricotta, salty-sweet with honey and sea salt. Though it’s all about the Trenton pie, the bianca or white pizza is another house favorite, dotted with fluffy, savory onion crema and lemon ricotta melting over mozzarella and cresenza cheeses with a drizzle of truffle oil.
145 Second St.; 415-912-1502
Opened in early 2014, The Pizza Shop on 24th Street serves a “real deal” NY slice with Jersey spirit, as chef-owner Thomas Jividen hails from the Garden State (note the wood carving of NJ on the soda machine). A sopping-good slice of pepperoni, mushroom or the favorite white spinach pizza folds up appropriately, soaking up grease on a paper plate. Whole-pie delights include the Meat-O, a meat-heavy joy laden with pepperoni, sausage and meatballs.
3104 24th St.; 415-824-1840
Well before there was another Trenton tomato pie option in town (see Jersey above), pizza king Tony Gemignani (pictured) served his Jersey-style Original Tomato Pie at his first restaurant in North Beach. Straightforward and heartwarming with reddest of red sauces and perfect thin crust, it can bring a tear to the eye of Jersey transplants. Ditto the massive Sicilian-style focaccia pizzas glistening with olive oil and covered in different toppings.
1570 Stockton St.; 415-835-9888
Along with the original North Berkeley location, open since 2004, Gioia Pizzeria opened a Polk Street location in SF in 2012 from husband/wife owners Will and Karen Gioia (Will grew up in Brooklyn and they met at the CIA in Hyde Park, NY). Both spots serve delicious East Coast–style pizzas: not greasy, fold-in-half slices, but more in the fresher vein of the likes of Grimaldi's mixed with the modern sensibilities of Roberta's, both in Brooklyn. Gioia's Berkeley locale mainly serves pizzas to go, while the sunny SF restaurant offers both sit-down pizzas and dishes and takeaway slices. Their classic pepperoni uses SF's historic Molinari pepperoni, while some of their top pies include the salsiccia (house Sicilian sausage with pickled jalapeños) and the acciughe (Sicilian anchovies, Calabrian chiles).
11-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani (of Tony's Pizza Napoletana above) opened Slice House on Second Street in late April, just in time for baseball season (it's a stone's throw from the ballpark). Located in the historic, bi-level Chronicle Books building, Slice House offers order-at-the-counter slices to-go, salads, pastas and a unique lineup of artisanal, 13-inch ancient-grain pizzas. This June, they launched an all-you-can-eat, weekend pizza brunch buffet for merely $20 a person. Slice House wows with its preponderance of red-sauce, thin-crust pies with NY/NJ soul, particularly the St. George pizza, loaded with whole roasted garlic cloves, linguica sausage, caramelized onions, agave nectar, green onion and crushed red pepper over mozzarella, Manchego cheese and, of course, red sauce.
680 Second St.; 415-872–9680
Open since late 2013, Presidio Pizza Company is a sunny, cozy spot for eat-in or take-out calzones, cannoli, NY cheesecake and pizzas. While their pies are NY-influenced, many of the staff are from Boston, infusing the modern, spare space with an East Coast spirit. The kitchen turns out Brooklyn- and Sicilian-style pizza with more traditional toppings and house favorites like the square, thin-crust pesto and red-sauce Grandma pie. We especially like the Frankie, laden with sliced sausage, rapini, garlic, onions and cherry peppers over mozzarella.
1862 Divisadero St.; 415-409-6672
Longtime favorite Arinell is your stop for greasy, fold-in-half NY slices with a few basic toppings: the dough is made with Mondako flour and the sauce laced with oregano. Both spots are grab-and-go hole-in-the-wall dives, cheap, easy and, in the case of the SF location, open until 2 AM on weekends. In addition to the basic thin-crust slices, check out also the Sicilian pizza by the slice.
With five locations around SF (the nearly 30-year-old Castro locale closed last fall), Escape From New York Pizza has long been an SF go-to for greasy-good slices of NY-style pizza and whole pies at reasonable prices. While there are pizza specials and gluten-free crust options, the basics are strong: a generous slice of cheese or pepperoni hits the spot, especially late night, as the Haight, Mission and Polk locations are open until 1 or 2 AM.