Zero Zero the Pizza Hero: Springtime for Pasta in SOMA
Tuesday was a hot one in San Francisco and so was dinner at Zero Zero in SOMA. As the feverish City simmered down with the evening breeze, I skipped across Folsom Street for dinner at Zero Zero to check Bruce Hill and Ryan Day’s new-and-improved spring menu.
Every aspect of the new menu was a delicious success—and, importantly, after Snapchatting each detail of this drool-inducing dream dinner, everyone was begging me to bring them to this hotspot. Courtesy of Zero Zero’s fabulous spring menu, I had the best Snapchat story out of all my friends that day.
If you’re looking to treat your taste buds while beefing up your Instagram Story, Zero Zero will be your hero hero.
Hightail to Cocktails: As the night cooled off, so did I with a chilled glass of Forenzo’s 2013 Pinot Grigio. It beats Franzia by landslide, and blows Charles Shaw out of the wine cellar. Real Housewife of New York Ramona Singer would likely carry this happy-juice in her Birkin.
If you don’t like wine, no need to whine! Zero Zero’s cocktail menu is armed with an appealing array of refreshing springy options: the Melon Pimm’s with Pimm’s No. 1, meloncello, lemon bitters, and soda; the Terroir with St. George Terroir Gin, huckleberries, lemon, and basil; and the Hans Gruber with Famous Grouse Scotch, spiced simple syrup, and lemon. They also have a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Liberty School Paso Robles, for those who like their beverage red and local.
I Want Olive It: Get a head start on their starters with the marinated Italian olives, arancini, brussels sprouts, and crudo. I ate three of the arancini balls, but I could have gone for thirty. If you’re a sucker for anything deep-fried, then order this taleggio-stuffed ball of joy and transcend into black garlic aioli nirvana.
Sprout into spring with Zero Zero’s brussels sprouts. This dish is a winning play on juxtaposition. A precise balance of constrasting texture and flavor, the crispy grilled brussels sprouts are juxtaposed by juicy, gentle-to-the-bite cubes of chili-sprinkled compressed Asian pear. This zesty combination is underscored by the vibrant intersection between savory sprouts and fresh pears, neatly tied together with parsley, chives, and lemon.
Then, their Crudo took my pallet by storm with a merry melange of Hamachi poke crudo, brokaw avocado, black sesame, scallion, pickled ginger, oro blanco, and tempura crisps. If you are a raw fish lover, it is crucial you try the crudo.
Lettuce Begin: One of the problems with making a good salad is bland lettuce—it’s a problem that needs addressing. In any case, Zero Zero resolves this salad conundrum with precise expertise, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Their innovative take on the classic caesar salad brings excitement to an oft-insipid salad by way of generous croutons and cheese. Who needs vegetables when you can have breads and cheeses? Zero Zero tailors the traditional caesar, making it fit for an emperor.
Any restaurant that knows baby kale is the hot sibling in the lettuce family is diligent. This shows a studied understanding of salad’s potential, which is rare to locate in a template-based, creativity-absent salad culture. Zero Zero’s baby kale salad is Garden of Eden in a bowl, flowered with K&J orchard apples, sunchokes, pickled onions, feta cheese, and a light, non-intrusive lambrusco vinaigrette.
(Note: I am one who militantly takes after Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, demanding that olive oil and balsamic vinegar be set on the side in lieu of dressing. But this sophisticated vinaigrette was an impressive appeal to my dressing discernment—Zero Zero gets it right for us Meg Ryan types.)
Major Key—Gnocchi: With the pizza invested in me, I crown Zero Zero the Pasta Masta’. My face literally transformed into the heart-eyed emoji when the pasta dishes made their appearance.
The fettuccini with San Francisco dungeness crab, Fresno chili, tomalley butter, chive, shallot, garlic, and preserved lemon was a smash hit. Notably, chef and owner Bill informed us Zero Zero is the only restaurant in San Francisco that gets it own fresh crab daily.
Next, my heart poured all over the tomato sauce drenched dishes. The spaghettoni amatriciana was a modern reconstruction of a traditional bowl of spaghetti and marinara. Blessedly so, they were not frugal with the cheese; the dish was blanketed with a down comforter of shredded pecorino. There are even heavenly bits of pancetta which will make your taste buds do the ballu tundu.
Then came the gnocchi, which was gno-joke; this was a saucy fantasy plate of unbridled carbs and cheese, with ricotta and grana padano. Whether you’re a Marina girl or a marinara gurl, you can’t pass this one up.
Hello, May I Please Speak to Pizza: We tried three different artfully-crafted pizzas: The Seasonal is layered with preserved lemon panna, roasted garlic, sicilian chili flake, grilled asparagus, broccoli spigarello, mozzarella, grana padano, and house made ricotta.
Next was the Fillmore, with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, leeks, mozzarella, grana padano, pecorino, fontina, garlic, and thyme. Whether or not you have much room in your belly, the mushrooms on the Fillmore will keep you coming back.
You wanna pizza meat? The Castro pizza—which likely gets its name due to it being a literal sausage fest—is made with house-made sausage, sopressata, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. The Castro is a quintessential Liz Lemon pizza. If you identify with any of Tina Fey’s meat-cheese-and-bread-loving diet habits, this pizza will make you “want to go to there.”
Holy Sundae: By this lap of Zero Zero’s intense food marathon, a debilitating food coma was steadily encroaching. However, ice cream was en route and I was beyond the pint of no return. If the pizzas were the show-stopping 11 o’clock number of this meal, then dessert was the dramatic finale. Make room for the build-your-own-sundae station, which warrants a round of applause.
You’ll be given a bowl of Straus Family Creamery’s organic chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve. Nestled in surrounding bowls were the pièces de résistance: warm ricotta doughnuts. These doughnuts will make you go nuts. While dreamy enough to stand alone, the doughnuts are supported by more sugary accompaniments, like the devastating flourless chocolate brownie, trailed by three small bowls of liquid magic: caramel, gooey hot fudge, and Bruce’s calabrian chile caramel. If you’re feeling fruity, the build-a-sundae workshop also comes with Satsuma mandarins and orange agrumato.
Alas, I’ve courageously braved Zero Zero’s new spring menu just for you. Now do yourself a flavor and catch a Lyft to Zero Zero for some carbo-loaded slayage.
$$ | 826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30AM–10:00PM. Friday & Saturday: 11:30AM–10:00PM