Perfect pizza is at the ‘Place’ on Noriega

My tennis teacher Marty — chiseled body, big chin, classic strokes, strictly public court — is picky when it comes to dinner. He likes it fresh, simple and hearty. Ever since I raved about The Pizza Place on Noriega trying to catch my breath during overhead drill, he has been traveling from North Beach almost to Ocean Beach to eat there.

An athletic guy like Marty fits in with the broad-shouldered surfer dudes hanging at the bar drinking pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($9). Marty orders exactly one pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale ($4).

But plenty of families with little kids and characteristically pale locals have made The Pizza Place their place.

Pizza this good does not happen by accident. Two friends from Boston, Dave Ashin and Kevin Baryza, who cooked around town in such kitchens as Fish, Acquerello, Farallon and Blue Plate, missed the pizza from their childhood, so they decided to make their own — the best version of comfort food pizza I've ever devoured.

Thin, elastic, crisp, flavorful crusts in monster rounds are topped with lots of stuff always in perfect proportion. The pies emerge from the gas pizza oven golden and fragrant. The waiters whisk them to metal stands at the tables.

While every pizza eater harbors her own love, my valentine at PPON is Rotten Robby ($17.99), a meaty pie paved with tuffets of Italian sausage, mushrooms, pesto, tomato sauce, mozzarella and slices of jalapeño. It smolders excitingly, not menacingly, on the tongue, and the toppings elegantly blend.

The Dimitri ($17.95), slathered with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, tomato sauce, cheese and little mounds of minced garlic, tastes completely different than the Robby, and just as winning. I even adore the Veggie ($16.99), an integrated yet distinctive mix of raw and cured ingredients.

While you wait for your pizza, share a big plate of roasted cauliflower ($5), oven-charred, scented with orange zest and perked up with black olives and red onion.Also, don't miss the dreamy iceberg salad ($4.50), a pile of crunchy torn lettuce tossed with walnuts, radishes, shredded carrots, parsley and a sharp blue cheese dressing based on a vinaigrette.

Save room for dessert — either the Sunset sundae ($5), Häagen-Dazs chocolate and vanilla with house-made chocolate and caramel sauces, whipped cream and chopped peanuts ; or a little square of lovely tiramisu, imported from Italy ($5).

Tumblers ($6) or bottles ($24) of nondescript wine are certainly reasonable, but pizza this good deserves something better. Bring your own and pay the $12 corkage.

The windowed corner space in a residential neighborhood has two high ceilinged rooms — a barroom with pizza oven and a dining room with wooden tables and stackable chairs. The walls are decorated with oil paintings by local artists. A mounted wooden sculpture of a blue Lincoln with rotating pizza tires sets an upbeat tone, as do the Police, reggae and ’70s rock on the sound system.

The chef/owners, who both live nearby, opened The Pizza Place a year ago because they wanted to serve their community. But their pizzeria is so ideal, people from all over the city should be flocking there. Two bus lines run right by it; the N-Judah stops four blocks away. And you can bike there. No hills, no problem. The Pizza Place on Noriega is a destination for anyone who loves a great pizza. Isn't that everyone?

Patricia Unterman is author of the “San Francisco Food Lovers' Pocket Guide” and a newsletter, “Unterman on Food.” Contact her at

The Pizza Place on Noriega

» Location: 3901 Noriega St., San Francisco

» Contact: (415) 759-5752;

» Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Tuesday

» Price range: Salads and starters, $2 to $7; pizza, $15.99 for medium; $2.50 per slice

» Recommended dishes: Iceberg salad, roasted cauliflower, Rotten Robby pizza, The Dimitri pizza, Veggie pizza, make your own slices, tiramisu, Sunset sundae

» Credit cards: Visa and Mastercard

» Reservations: Not accepted

entertainmentFeaturesFood & DrinkFood and Wine

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College classes for English learners jeopardized by cutbacks

English learners and their supporters called for financial support from The City… Continue reading

Kiana Williams
Stanford’s Kiana Williams drafted by WNBA champion Seattle Storm

Kiana Williams is going from one championship team to another. A senior… Continue reading

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, is consoled at a vigil to honor her brother, who was killed by Daly City Police on April 7, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supporters march for SF man killed by Daly City police

Struggle over fake gun ends in shooting of 44-year-old Roger Allen, DA says

Syd Mandelbaum created the home run tracker, which revolutionized statistics in major league sports. (Courtesy photo)
Home run tracker, with roots at Candlestick Park, marks 30 years

When Giants first baseman Brandon Belt slugged a solo home run in… Continue reading

Most Read