Only in San Francisco #227
Zante Pizza is fusion in the best sense. It is a pizzeria that infuses it's pies with the flavors and spices of Indian food. The smell of the place alone is heavenly. Credit where due, I was introduced to Zante by my friends Scott & Caren, who are vegan, and yet responsible for several of my favorite pizza experiences.
My parents were in town from Texas, and they always like to try new things when they are here, so we made an adventure of it, and got off BART at 16th Street, and walked the mile or so down Mission Street to Zante.
Mission Street (and the Mission in general) is one of my favorite neighborhoods in SF. It has (despite the pernicious influx of gentrification) maintained it's combination of rich Latin American cultural flavor, bohemian SF hipsterism and delightfully shabby mom & pop stores & restaurants. There are very few chain stores or fast food restaurants here. But, there is a taqueria on just about every block (ranging from pretty good to transcendent. If you're ever in SF, you owe it to yourself to make a pilgrimage to Taqueria Pancho Villa, with it's long assembly line style burrito assembly. Of course, taquerias in the Mission are like churches, everyone accepts the choices of others, but secretly knows theirs is the best..)
Anyway, I took them down Mission Street where we stopped and looked at several random stores. The architecture along the street is great, even if the beautiful facade of the old Mission Theatre is now a .99 cent store.
Ah, but Zante. You actually smell it before you see it. I cannot describe the combination of the delicious smell of pizza, mixed with the aromatic spices of India. It just works.
We ordered the Indian meat pizza which comes with a spinach curry sauce, cheese, a mountain of veggies, tandoori chicken, lamb and prawns. We went with an extra large, reasoning that there would be leftovers for the next day. There weren't. The three of us polished off the entire thing.
One of the best things about Zante, is how light their pizza is. As I get older I find that cheese and I have a tempestuous relationship, and pizza is something I avoid. Zante is so light on the cheese that I never have a problem. I had 4 slices (matching my Dad slice for slice) and did not feel bad at all afterwards.
All in all, the combination of the cool multiculturalism of the Mission, the delicious synthesis of Zante and spending a lovely evening with my parents (who reminded me that despite my cynicism about Obama, he's still better than John Cornyn) it was a great night.
If you find yourself in SF, go off the beaten path a little. I assure you the Mission isn't in guidebooks, and there aren't a lot of tours, but there is so much good food there, that it is a must visit when you come to the City.
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