Although North Beach is often referred to as ‘Little Italy’, few Italians still live in the neighborhood and sadly, cafes and restaurants in the area are closing with alarming frequency due to increased rents.
One cuisine that is still thriving is pizza, with over 20 pizza restaurants listed on Yelp in the area.
So, where is the best place to get pizza in North Beach? That depends on what type of pizza you like, where you want to eat it and what your price range is. Having lived in the neighborhood for almost a year, I’ve made it my business to try as many pizza places as possible in search of that perfect slice. Here are my favorites (in no particular order!).
On busy Columbus Avenue, Il Casaro doesn’t look much from the outside. Take a peek inside, however, and you’ll spot a bright red traditional pizza oven and contemporary lighting.
This was the first place I ever ate in North Beach on the recommendation of a friend. It has remained a firm favorite to visit and for takeaway.
A relative newcomer to North Beach (it opened in 2014), Il Casaro isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. They’ll be opening a second location soon in The Castro.
Go here if you like: Quick service, bright and modern spaces, cheap pizza at lunchtime!
Golden Boy Pizza
Even locals who frequent Golden Boy might not recognize it from the photograph. Open until 2:30am, Golden Boy is the go-to place for San Franciscans who have overindulged and need to soak up the booze after a night out.
Their strapline is ‘It’s hip to be square’, in reference to the thick squares of fluffy focaccia they serve by the slice, generously smothered with one of four toppings and heaps of cheese.
I’ve eaten it sober 3 times now and it tastes just as good. The only downside is the queue (sorry, line!) is huge at almost any given time of day, but particularly in the late evening.
Go here if you like: Cheap eats, late night food, Generous toppings.
Capo’s Chicago Pizza and Italian Dinners
If you like your pizza of the Chicago variety, Capo’s is the place to be!
Featuring ‘Al Capone’s’ table, you’ll feel like an old-school mafia gangster seated in a red leather booth at Capo’s.
I’m not a huge fan of Chicago style pizza, but the baked pasta here keeps me going back. One thing to note is that the portions are HUGE, so don’t over order!
Go here if you like: Interesting spaces with history, traditional Italian-American food, great service.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
World famous, Tony was the first American ever to win prestigious awards at the World Pizza Cup in Naples and the World Championship of Pizza Makers in 2011.
These awards and the outstanding pizza put Tony’s firmly on the map and subsequently, it’s always busy! It is worth the wait though. The restaurant is fairly big and service is fast, so although the line outside might seem massive, it’s uncommon to wait for longer than an hour for a table even if you’re in a larger group.
You can spend that hour in Washing Square Park, grabbing a drink at Mario’s Cigar Bar on the corner or at Piazza Pelligrini on the other side of the square.
Go here if you like: Authentic Neopolitan pizza, casual dining, a selection of different style pizzas.
Tony’s Slice House
If you really don’t have an hour to spare, you can still enjoy a slice of the Tony’s experience.
Slice House by Tony Gemignani offers slices of that world famous pizza as well as subs and sandwiches. A little seating area outside is a good place to soak in the North Beach atmosphere and people watch.
Tony’s Slice House can also be found at many other locations across the Bay Area, including the baseball stadium and in Walnut Creek.
Go here if you like: Getting a quick bite, sitting outside, value for money.
North Beach Pizza
Slightly off the beaten track in comparison to the other places I’ve highlighted, North Beach Pizza is on the corner of Grant Avenue and Union Street. Like Tony’s, North Beach Pizza operates a sit-down dining area alongside a slice house.
The pizza here has a slightly thicker (but not quite an American style) base. The menu features a huge selection of topping combinations and appetizers.
On a sunny day, picking up a slice en route to Coit Tower and enjoying lunch with a view is a great way to refuel.
Go here if you like: Friendly service, good value for money, takeaway, lots of cheese.