I’m too hungry to write a superlative restaurant review right now. I had a late-ish breakfast and then wasn’t hungry at lunch time. Now it’s the early evening and nothing around me is open and I want to die. All I have to sustain myself is a handful of almonds and a room-temperature cucumber. Even though I hated this restaurant, I feel like my ravenous appetite is going to diminish my ability to write the kind of scathing review that I know I’m capable of.
Okay, so I probably did this in the wrong order. I should have introduced the concept of this post first, then I should have told you what the name of the restaurant, and then I should have told you how I felt about the food. Next time I’ll be better, but I’m delirious with hunger and not making good editorial decisions.
So here’s what I should have told you upfront. October was restaurant appreciation month (or RAM, as I like to call it) here in SF. Recently each city Supervisor gave a restaurant in their district a commendation. I’m going to review them all…eventually. More on the whole concept here
Some of the more far flung restaurants are going to require some serious pre-planning, which I haven’t done yet. So for my first restaurant review I stayed close to home.
Oh Hell yes, I just found a pouch of really old peanuts in my bag. They….crunch…are ….crunchcrunch… literally giving me life rightcrunchnow.
…….Where was I? Oh right
Delarosa (!) on Chestnut St in the Marina
Delarosa was chosen by District 2 (my district) Supervisor Mark Farrell, and not to veer too far into my personal politics here, but I’m not a huge fan of Mark Farrell’s. He seems like an okay guy, but he’s just not radically pro-public transit enough for me. Case-in-point: he has never…not even once… come to blows with another Supervisor in the name of more forcefully expanding bike lanes. He also voted to ban public nudity in San Francisco. I don’t know why I feel strongly pro-nudity. I lose my balance in the gym locker room every day trying to get my shorts so quickly that at no time could I ever legally be considered naked. I’m practically a never-nude, but if I wanted to live under a freedom-hating underpants-mandating regime, I would move to North Korea.
So right from the get-go I was skeptical about Marky Mark’s choice. During the award ceremony, most of the Supervisors choose to honor a restaurant that operates (1) in an under-served neighborhood, (2) is owned by someone with a compelling story, or (3) in some way gave back to the community.
That didn’t really seem to be the case here: Delarosa operates in a upscale neighborhood; the owner, whose name I forget, is a fairly successful restaurateur; and this is the part where I really want to say that he doesn’t have a charitable bone in his body, but I don’t actually know that to be true. I merely suspect that it’s true based on the fact that I made it up. Mark Farrell picked it because its he likes it, his kids LOVE it (they went on their birthday), and its usually pretty crowded.
Now on its face “having tasty food” might seem like alright criteria for giving a restaurant an award, but when you couple that with his only half-hearted bicycle infrastructure advocacy you start to get the idea that he might just be a fat-cat City Hall insider whose lost touch with the common man. And I wouldn’t do anything to discourage that totally reasonable conclusion.
I went with my friend M, and we sat outside and shared the Eggplant Caponatina with Burrata ($9). Given that “Caponatina” is one of those totally nonsensical Italian food words that restaurants invented to seem fancier, I had no idea what it was. It did come HIGHLY recommended from a stranger on Yelp, so I figured I would trust in the power of crowds,
Big mistake. This was an eggplant and cheese salad, which normally would be right up my alley, but this was so drenched in balsamic something-or-other that I could barely choke it down. It was as bitter and unpalatable as any of John Updike’s female characters.
Google is telling me right now that “Caponatina” is actually Sicillian eggplant relish, in case you were wondering.
Now this is where I should mention that I have a personal rule to never order for myself. Whenever I go to a restaurant I always ask my server what their favorite thing is, and then I get that, unless it sounds dreadful. I’m sure I did the same thing at Delarosa, but (despite the fact that I just ate there, like a few nights ago) I can’t remember what the waitress said. BUT (!) when I try to remember, I do get this weird feeling that our waitress wasn’t that helpful. I always trust my weird feelings that aren’t actual memories.
For our main course, M and I shared the Pizza Margherita with Burrata ($15). Pizza Margherita, what could go wrong? Like “Caponatina,” “Margherita” is just another made up word. It’s Italian for “cheese pizza, with enough pretentiousness to satisfy your average NPR listener.”
Another miss. You know how sometimes “fancy” margherita has big blobs of cheese that don’t ever really gel with the rest of the slice? So that when you take your first bite you end up eating all the cheese and have nothing left on your slice but soggy crust? Yeah that happened. This margherita also had that weird ornamental basil leaf that mostly just falls off. Don’t get me wrong, I like basil, but I don’t have time for basil that ambiguously dances between garnish and actual food.
Maybe a picture will help.
See!?! It’s running amok with superfluous basil and inconsistent cheese administration. I can’t handle it. The only good thing about this picture is that child in the background. You can tell by the look on his cute little ethnically ambiguous face that he knows somethings not right. Go with your gut little guy! There’s much better pizza out there if only you’ll dare to follow your dreams.
Just FYI, I don’t know that child. This is a photo from Google images.
I realize, by the way, that all these complaints are just complaints about Pizza Margherita in general. All of this is to say that this pizza was pretty mediocre and in totally unsurprising ways.
“But what about the burrata!?,” I can hear you exclaiming. Burrata is normally a wonderfully creamy and indulgent kind of cheese. In my entire life, I’ve never had a burrata-related experience that I was less than over the moon about…until now.
The burrata wasn’t bad, per-say, but it didn’t inspire any kind of spiritual awakening either. It was the kind of burrata you wouldn’t write home about. Burrata should always be of a quality that makes it worth writing home about.
In case you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, overall this was a pretty ho-hum dining experience. M and I were unanimous in how tepid we felt about our meal and agreed we probably wouldn’t ever go back. Unsurprisingly, Mark Farrell’s children have really plebeian taste. If that isn’t enough reason to vote against him, I don’t know what is.
In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I do feel obligated to tell you that its usually crazy crowded, which suggests that there are adult humans out there whose palates are just as unrefined as those of Mark Farrell’s children’s. Nevertheless, everyone seems to have nice things to say about it. Even Google Maps got in on the action.
Delarosa is a Trendy and Italian; but Taco Bell gets nothing? That’s some pretty blatant bias, Google Maps. Where’s your cartographic integrity? This is the Mercator Projection all over again.
But it isn’t just Google Maps. A friend, apropos of nothing, brought up how much she loved Delarosa just a few days after we ate there. She was totally surprised to hear about our less than stellar meal and encouraged us to give it another shot.
I could do that, but I could also just chew on Styrofoam and save myself the $25. San Francisco is a great eating town and life is too short to give lousy restaurants like Delarosa more than one chance.