Thursday, December 20, 2012


 It's about time that I finally talk about Ragazza, my favorite neighborhood Pizzeria. It was a long time in coming, but the North Panhandle finally was presented with a good Italian restaurant and it was quite a present. Everything is cooked on a wood burning grill and that takes some doing when you're serving pasta and polenta. In truth, there is one gas burner, but no stove, so pasta is limited to one kind only. No matter because pizza is what people flock to the restaurant to order.
How does smoked mozzarella, sausage, potato and wild nettle sound for a unique topping? This pizza was delicious as are all the pizze served here and in part because of the dough.

Are you a traditionalist and need tomato sauce on your pizza? You won't find a typical pizza at Ragazza, so no cheese on this Puttanesca version, but you will find authentic Italian flavor combinations with sun cured black olive, capers and anchovies. You can always add the grated Parmigiano that is placed on your table along with red chili flakes.

If you have simple and traditional pizza cravings you can easily find a Pizza Margherita with both tomato sauce and Mozzarella cheese, but most of these seemed to be ordered by families with small children.

Thankfully the menu changes quite frequently, so there are so many choices at Ragazza if you are able to go there each month. Eggs are often an option for the pizze and this one was particularly good with smoked bacon, potato, red onion, Fontina and parsley.

Here's the same without the bacon and eggs, just in case that seems too much like a breakfast to you. Both are excellent choices and this works for the vegetarian. The fact that it's not overloaded with cheese is the best part of the Regazza pizza, because the other flavors are not smothered by the richness of the cheese.

I have always been attracted to mushroom pizza, but until I tried the Ragazza version with chanterelle mushrooms, I hadn't had the best. The caramelized onion and small amount of radicchio added a bittersweet (literally) taste that was the perfect complement to the mushrooms. I believe Fontina was used on this pizza also.

Just look at that chewy crust. Of all the pizze I've eaten,  my favorites always have a flavorful, chewy crust. Pizze with no puffy, chewy edges just leave me, well, flat. You can see that the exterior has a great little crunch to it. this was a Pizza Bianca. Again, no tomato sauce, but cheese, arugula, radicchio and white truffle oil.

Pancetta, portabello mushroom, mozzarella, red onion and stinging nettles make as fantastic a pizza as has ever crossed my lips. I wish this one were on the menu all year long, but the seasonality of the ingredients is what makes all the Regazza pizze so wonderful.

I've eaten so many great pizze at Ragazza that I don't even recall the name of this one. all I know is I've never met a pizza i didn't like at this treasure of a restaurant. This one had yellow crookneck squash, tomato and garlic among other toppings for their wonderful crust. But man does not eat by bread alone...

                                                                   Two memorable starters were  roasted pork belly with a piquant salsa verde, served upon a large white bean salad. the idea was good,, the execution even better. Then there was a roasted pickled pepper stuffed with tuna on a fresh corn salad. Both dishes brought so much to the table in the way of flavor and uniqueness. The salads involved were so refreshing and wonderful counterpoints to the richness of both the tuna and roasted pork belly. Oh! speaking of pork belly... yes, the restaurant did make a pizza with pork belly, large square chunks of it, but I haven't downloaded the photo yet.

The charcuterie plate was one of the best I've ordered in San Francisco but ask them to toast the bread, because the lardo is better eaten warm and the residual heat of the bread does the trick. That's fava puree and the carrots were pickled. Nice contrasts in flavors and textures were on this plate.

Salads are inspired at Ragazza. I believe this one was inspired directly by Sicilian cuisine because of the combination of oil cured, bitter black olives, blood oranges and fennel. We've also eaten broccoli salad, corn and orchietti salad, and radicchio salad that were very different from what you find in other Italian restaurants.

As far as grilled meats go, who could resist a perfectly cooked pork chop? Not I. It was blushing pink in the center and so juicy I had forgotten it was a pork chop.

The chicken cannelloni has been my favorite pasta thus far, but it's not on their menu often enough, however, the baked pasta with winter squash is a staple at the restaurant and provides a pasta dish  that's hearty and filling.
They also serve a variety of vegetables such as winter squash and Brussels sprouts that are  nicely roasted and very flavorful and seem much bigger than a side dish for a main course.

Two polentas have tempted me so far.
The first had sauteed chanterelles  with creme fraiche on top. They were creamy tasting to begin with and the savory mushrooms gave the polenta a very complimentary earthy taste that seemed so appropriate for a chilly evening.

The second was also creamy on its own, but  the added dairy,  the Fontina melted upon it made it even richer and the basil confetti added its perfume and sweetness to the dish. Both were very good and both were eaten on chilly evenings.

Desserts are also on the menu, if you have any stomach room to spare. I ask you, how does one bake a cheesecake on a grill? Perhaps there's a small oven somewhere, thankfully so, because the ricotta cheesecake is simple and satisfying. I've seen it served with fresh figs and caramel sauce or amareno cherries in syrup, both quite good. The tiramisu was done with a light hand on the whipped cream, that made it better than most. The chocolate torte was rich and would thrill any chocoholic in the room.
Ragazza's Website 
311 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 255-1133