Mark Sullivan, the talented chef at Spruce, once said in an interview that this was one of his favorite places in San Francisco. He spoke with regards of Sharon Ardiana, owner and chef of Gialina.
Named after Sharon’s grandmother, the small neighborhood restaurant proudly displays her family photos in oversized black-and-white prints. Only 13 tables fill the red-walled dining room, another 3 people can sit at a dining counter and watch the pies being made, skillfully hand-stretched by the focused chef.
With barely any spare space in the dinging room, the local crowd lines up outside to wait for a table or takeout. But don’t be intimidated; it will be definitely worth your while.
Thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas are the restaurant’s specialty. There are about 10 pies to choose from, with some changing depending on the day. The toppings are inventive but celebrate Italian and local ingredients. Pizzas are served in a single size, 6-slices medium. In addition, starters and a roast of the day are available to help fill your appetite.
Starters include salads and charcuterie plates as well as more filing options like the PLT-Pork Belly Bruschetta w/ heirloom tomatoes & balsamic condimento. A delicious variation on the classic. Served open faced with ripe heirloom tomatoes and house made aioli. And topped with a generous portion of tender pork belly.
Another option is the Pan-fried salt cod cakes with Meyer lemon aioli. Although it lacks the outside crispiness of a deep-fried version, and the inside is on the dry side, the cod cakes are a tasty starter. Good and unpretentious comfort food.
You can opt to skip appetizers but don’t dare leaving without trying the pizzas. Specially the Pork belly with tomato, red onion, oregano and taleggio. A mouth-watering preparation of thick strips of tender pork belly over a bold, flavorful tomato sauce worthy of the noblest pastas.
Another great pizza is the Potato w/ applewood smoked bacon, roasted onions, sage & taleggio. A surprisingly flavorful and well-balanced combination. Like the pork belly pizza, made with impossibly thin (and firm) crust and taleggio cheese-which beats mozzarella’s flavor. Paper thin slices of potato add great texture while the onions brings a nice sweetness to the pie. The bacon, well, what doesn’t taste better with bacon?
Even the Parmesan served along with the pizzas is of great quality. The microplaned cheese has a much more pleasant texture than the average dry, factory-grated kind.
Gialina offers a good selection of desserts, from house-made sweets to Bi-Rite ice creams. I was curious to try the Chocolate hazelnut dessert pizza, but slightly disappointed when I finally did. After the unbeatable pizzas, I was expecting something less ordinary, something more than Nutella® spread. Also topped with mascarpone and biscotti crumbs, the crunchy open-textured crust is hard to cut into making the dessert better suited for hands that are not afraid of getting messy.
Located in the somewhat remote neighborhood of Glen Park, Gialina serves some of the best pizzas in the city. Creative combinations prepared with a great deal of skill and talent, enough to challenge your notion of what a good pizza tastes like.
Gialina is at 2842 Diamond Street