Thin Crust White Pie (garlic olive oil base, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and roasted zuchinni); Deep-Dish Classic (sausage, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and onions); Thin Crust Pepperoni
Occupation: Marketing Director
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Little Star Pizza
Reviewed Little Star Pizza: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
If you haven’t been following the recent “deep dish wars,” as I like to call them, Zachary’s in Berkeley has remained the undisputed best pizza in the Bay Area for the longest time. Then, a couple of years ago Little Star opened, quietly developing a strong following as a serious contender to the title. I’m not going to get into the fray myself; I like being a double agent!
That said, Little Star is my local pizza place, so I inevitably have been eating more of their pies, just by proximity. A lot of people complain about the long waits and I don’t blame them. I will say that it’s worth it, but I’m also lucky to be able to order for take-out, which is a great option.
The place is intimate and boisterous, and there’s a real sense that a lot of people eating here live in the neighborhood. The jukebox always has a nice mix of indie pop and alternative rock playing, and it’s kind of fun to guess at which customer put on what music.
Every time I’ve stopped in, I run into someone I know, and that’s not a bad way to start off any meal experience.
On my most recent visit, my buddy and I split a small deep-dish pizza with sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, which is just the right size to divide amongst two people. Fresh ingredients, gooey cheeses, and that golden crust make for a pizza that is as close to perfect as God intended, and I say that not being the religious type!
We also split a mixed salad, which was a nice and healthy way to balance the meal. I’d also highly recommend their garlic bread -- you get to spread your own fresh garlic -- nothing like some interaction with your food.
I don’t care if you have room or not, order the cheesecake for dessert, it’s moist and bittersweet with a flaky crust, a truly happy ending.
They have some good beers on tap, so while the bar and waiting area are tiny and even cramped depending on the night, at least you can have a cold IPA or two while you wait for your table.
Little Star has its detractors -- I’m even sad that you can’t just order by the slice sometimes -- but overall it’s one of those places you know is deserving of instant classic status. Matter of fact, I have it on good authority that they’re opening another location in the Mission very soon…
Occupation: Product Designer
Favorite Restaurant: Zatar
Reviewed Little Star Pizza: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
It’s hard to be critical of a laid-back, neighborhood pizza joint. I wouldn’t compare a restaurant like this in terms of service and quality of food to a high-end restaurant that is in a totally different category. Compared to most casual pizza places, Little Star is excellent. We enjoyed the atmosphere: a hipster spot near the mid-Haight with a fun staff and excellent jukebox. (My musician husband was in heaven over the selection of tunes and had to meet the guy who put it all together.) The owner we subsequently met was young and laid-back and seems to be all about honest, simple pizza. In reading reviews of Little Star before I went, I noticed that some comparisons to Zachary’s (a deep-dish pizza favorite of the East Bay) had been made, and I agree with the Chronicle’s quote that Little Star’s deep dish is better than Zachary’s. The pizza at Little Star seemed to have a more natural flavor, without a particular “formula” to give it a patented flavor. (The atmosphere is definitely better too, in my opinion!) I’m not even a fan of deep-dish pizza, but I really enjoyed theirs. We also ordered a thin crust, and although it was tasty, it wasn’t my favorite part of the meal. I am an unapologetic thin-crust pizza snob, having spent a lot of time in Naples, Italy, so I would have to say this would not be a destination place for me to eat thin crust.
Our server, Natalie, was great. She was very friendly, with quick service, a good recommendation for wine, and was very gentle in the way she was trying to usher us out to accommodate the huge line that had formed out front. Having been a server in the past, I know that it’s a hard task to turn tables with grace, and she could probably serve in a much higher-end place with the type of experience she displayed.
We had no wait to get in, but we arrived early and, as I mentioned previously, a huge line had formed by the time we left, so I imagine that other patrons that night could not say the same thing. Food came out very quickly, and the salad was much better than most pizza places I’ve tried. Overall the prices were fair and just and also extended to the wine list, which was small, but had a few really good picks. Obviously, the person who orders the wine puts an interest into tasting and selecting good off-brands. To me that is very important, and it is always the most disappointing experience when the wine list totally sucks in a small restaurant that has good food. Even the most inexpensive of restaurants should still have couple of good wines to choose from that won’t break your bank. (Someone needs to send out an alert of this fact to most of the Bay Area’s Thai and Chinese restaurants, please!)
All in all, we enjoyed our experience (of course, parking in that neighborhood is always hard, so no one can fault them for that), and I think this is a solid neighborhood joint that I would frequent if it was in my own neighborhood. Since it isn’t however, and I prefer thin-crust pizza at other SF restaurants, it wouldn’t be my first choice when trekking to the city. However, I would recommend it to deep-dish lovers, and will definitely go back there when I find myself in that ‘hood. My husband would go back for the jukebox alone.
Occupation: Film Festival Volunteer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Vignette
Reviewed Little Star Pizza: Thursday, August 17, 2006
The following is a consensus opinion report for myself, my wife, and a friend:
Entering the restaurant is like going into a cave, so dim is the lighting. Reading the menu is definitely problematic.
The pizza is definitely excellent (I only wish we could see it). The salad and caprese were good, but not outstanding.
The one feature, which would deter me from another visit, is the noise level. Our vocal chords got a real workout just trying to converse. The noise level is so high, you couldn’t hear the music blaring from the jukebox.
Another annoyance was the fact that they don’t accept credit cards. Luckily, I had enough cash in my pocket. But I had to leave, feeling cheated out of my frequent flyer miles.
We may try their pizza again via home delivery, but definitely wouldn’t return for another assault on the eardrums, and a case of eyestrain.