On Friday night we took a drive up to the city (San Francisco) after dropping a friend at the airport, and found ourselves spontaneously checking out another Bruce Hill spot, Zero Zero – having been to Fog City just a few weeks ago). One step more casual than Fog City (in reality, everything is fairly casual in San Francisco), but still on the hip side of square, Zero Zero is a trendy South of Market (SoMa) eatery, with long bars on 2 stories (that remind me a little bit of yet another Bruce Hill spot and old favorite of mine, Bix), living up to Bruce Hill’s reputation for using locally-sourced, fresh ingredients in every thoughtfully concocted menu item.
Predominantly known for its Neopolitan-style pizzas, there are some other interesting menu items, from pastas, to salads, to appetizers big enough to make a vegetable-lover (like me) very happy (and full). And by the way, I may not be eating pizza these days, but if I were, it looks like this is the place. Having spent plenty of time in the Napoli region of Italy, these pizzas looked and smelled as authentic as they come in the US – with that crispy, bubbled up crust on the outside, and very thin layer in the middle, blackened just a bit on the outer edges. Michael had The Castro, with house-made sausage, Soppressata, tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil – and he liked it just as much as many of the pizzas we have eaten in Southeastern Italy.
I quite liked the atmosphere. It was dim with dark wood, iron fixtures and flame-shaped sconce lamps adorned the tall space, which I liked because of its warmth, but what I liked even more was that the clientèle ranged from hip SoMa tech co-workers and friends out and dressed for a Friday night, to cosy neighborhood families with kids, out for a good pizza dinner. And I might add, I really liked that the staff seemed genuinely friendly, engaging, and knowledgeable – I enjoyed that Ian, our waiter, seemed to really appreciate the freshness of the ingredients used in the dishes, as he commented about the different types of clean oils being made and used in house (which of course, I appreciated).
As with Fog City, the produce is local and seasonal,and extremely fresh. We started by sharing the arugula, fennel, Asian pear and hazelnut salad. This was my one negative as we both felt it was overdressed. I did love the Korean chili pepper on sprinkled on top – it was as if he just knew me when he added that onto the salad! I love my chili pepper!
As an entrée, I couldn’t wait to have the Mariquita Farm Roasted Cauliflower done in a Rosemary Oil with Cauliflower Purée – and it lived up to my expectations! I ate the entire thing – complete with the house-dried kale chips on top. That was GOODNESS! I also had the Brussels Sprouts, done with Asian Pear, Parsley, Meyer Lemon and Chilli (I asked them to leave the pancetta in the kitchen for me, but they did bring it on the side for Michael). Also delicious, I just couldn’t finish it all after the cauliflower, so I brought it home. They were on the appetizer menu, but these were big, family-style, sharing servings. Worth sharing!
Now I have to tell you… if you are a dessert person, you really just have to go to Zero Zero. If I ever decide I am going to treat myself to a fabulous and fattening dessert, this may just be the place I choose to go. There was nothing on the adorable dessert menu – that they brought to the table with little golf pencils for selecting choices – that sounded anything but amazing. Michael was full and I cannot believe he didn’t want to even try a dessert! But I have to say, we will be back on some occasion for dessert. Soft serve ORGANIC ice creams with choices of some of the most insanely delectable toppings: can you even imagine how yummy an organic vanilla soft serve must taste with Fiordolio Olive Oil and Sea Salt on top? With Bacon Brittle (not my thing, but I get the combination and I know that many of you are bacon people)? Organic chocolate soft serve paired with Vanilla Mandarins with Sicilian Tangerine Oil on top?
How does this sound for a dessert: Tcho Sea Salted Milk Chocolate Cookies with Cereal Milk? My Mom would love that one! I mean, just looking at the names and ingredients in the desserts was a sensory experience. So no, I’m not eating dessert these days, but at some point when I decide to indulge, this is absolutely the menu for me.
The one thing I think missing, that we would have liked to have seen on the menu, was that perhaps it could have has a couple of protein options. Great pizzas, pasta choices, and the salads and appetizers, but a couple of proteins would have been nice to see. Just something seasonal – we would have liked as an option.
In any event, Zero Zero is a great choice in trendy South of Market, and certainly I recommend it. I’m beginning to think you can’t really go wrong with a Bruce Hill joint.
Pros: freshest ingredients, friendly, casual, full bar, good prices for the quality
Cons: a little lighter touch on the salad dressing, one or two more choices for the growing non-wheat-eating population would be great