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January 21, 2005

Great! Now We Won't Be Able to Get in the Door!

The San Francisco Chronicle visits our favorite nearby restaurant:

Chef opens new palace of upscale pizza: When a noteworthy restaurant closes, the chef often falls off the radar. So, it's great when one resurfaces, as is the case with Gordon Drysdale, whose popular Gordon's House of Fine Eats in San Francisco closed two years ago.

Instead of disappearing from the local scene, Drysdale, Tim Stannard and Brannin Beal opened Pizza Antica, a Neapolitan-style pizza place in San Jose, intending to start a small chain. It took 1 1/2 years, but now they've opened a second location....

Even though this is a pizza place, Drysdale offers some of his signature starters. None is more satisfying than his warm Brussels sprouts salad ($8.95). Unlike anything Mom used to make, these sprouts are peeled into individual tender leaves and sauteed with shallots, bacon and a splash of vinegar for a tangy kick... portobello mushroom fritti... mussels....

Drysdale takes pizza-making seriously. "If done right," he confides, "the pizza will be slightly chewy, crispy and a bit burnt around the edges, sweet from the sauce and toppings, and rich from the cheese. You'll get a well- balanced sensation with each bite."

That's a perfect description of what emerges from Pizza Antica's ovens. The crackly, bubbled crust is satisfyingly thin, but sturdy enough to stand up to a medley of ingredients.

Pizzas come two ways -- "ours," which consist of 10 varieties crafted by the restaurant, and "yours," where you create your own pie My favorite is the heirloom potato, caramelized onion and white truffle oil pizza ($9.25 small, $14.75 large). Thin slivers of tender potato pair beautifully with the sweet onion and earthy oil. Another winner combines red peppers with kalamata olives and roasted fennel ($8.75, $14.25). The version with Bartlett pear, sweet garlic and Mt. Tam triple cream cheese ($9.50, $14. 95) was the only disappointment...

Posted by DeLong at January 21, 2005 08:48 PM

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Well, the way I'd look at is, if I ate too much of the pizza, I wouldn't be able to get in -- or out -- of that door.

Posted by: Delicious Pundit at January 21, 2005 09:53 PM

Brussels sprouts salad? Even in the Bay area, that seems a bit much?

Posted by: Dan Ryan at January 21, 2005 09:55 PM

Hey Dan, don't malign brussels sprouts! The brussels sprouts salad at Ristorante Avanti in Santa Cruz is to die for.

Posted by: Steve at January 21, 2005 10:21 PM

[comment spam]

Posted by: at January 21, 2005 10:53 PM

Hey, Topdogs, just up Durant, has some of the tastiest pups, too!

Potato pizza, though, makes peeled brussels sprouts sound tasty by comparison.

Posted by: bad Jim at January 22, 2005 01:26 AM

I've been looking for a good pizza place since I moved to the East Bay in 1990. I'm willing to try it, but...potatoes (even if heirloom) on your pizza?!

Posted by: Nancy Irving at January 22, 2005 04:29 AM

Brussel Sprouts a bit much? I grew up in farm country in Michigan and we had sprouts a lot, I don't see what's so outre about them.

WRT Pizza Antica, if anybody's in NYC, check out Una Pizza Napoletano. Of course it's more expensive, and they're pretty doctrinaire about their ingredients, but for the limited selection I'd say it's hard to find a better pie. It'd be interesting to hear from anybody who's had both.

Posted by: Ken O at January 22, 2005 05:43 AM

Potato pizza is not an innovation. It's common in Rome, and well worth a try. I didn't think you Californians were the cautious sort...

Posted by: Otto at January 22, 2005 06:15 AM

>Brussels sprouts salad? Even in the Bay area, that seems a bit much?

I don't know what you're talking about.

Brussels sprouts are as pedestrian a vegetable as it could be here in my native germany.

Posted by: Felix Deutsch at January 22, 2005 06:51 AM

I feel about Brussels sprouts the way Brad feels about turnips. An obsolete vegetable mostly useful for punishing children. Putting them in gourmet food is some sort of neo-dada bobo joke. You show how cool you are by pretending to like them.

If you think about it, the cuisine of our Baltic ancestors was pretty grim. Cabbages, beets, turnips, rye, oats, dairy, fish. No sugar, almost no fruit except berries and apples, no peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, wheat, rice, or pasta, very limited spices, and so on. And everything that wasn't fresh was salted, dried, or pickled.

Posted by: John Emerson at January 22, 2005 07:57 AM

Brussel sprouts are manna from the gods. Even more when they're lightly steamed and then sauteed in olive oil and garlic. This Free Stater condsiders them the ultimate comfort food.


Posted by: Sharon at January 22, 2005 10:07 AM

San Joisy? Good food? Two worlds collide.

Posted by: ogmb at January 22, 2005 10:35 AM

I gotta say, I wouldn't turn your noses up at these things until you actually try them. Yes, the results can certainly be boring and pretentious. In the hands of the right chef, however, even brussel sprouts can be damn good.

Is this reverse snobbery, or an unwillingness to try something new?

Posted by: M. at January 22, 2005 11:08 AM

I willing to try, but I’m skeptical. I have been in pizza shock ever since I moved to the Bay Area from NYC. You can’t get a decent slice of rye bread, and you can’t get good deli.

[The Metropolitan Bakery's rye is pretty good, and there is a Russian restaurant in Walnut Creek. And we're impressed with A.G. Ferrari...]

Posted by: A. Zarkov@mail.com at January 22, 2005 11:45 AM

Does this place do carryout? To Ohio? (Especially the brussels sprouts salad)

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer at January 22, 2005 03:04 PM

I think that brussel sprouts taste pretty good, but they have a rather unattractive smell.

Posted by: Julian Elson at January 22, 2005 04:37 PM

[The Metropolitan Bakery's rye is pretty good, and there is a Russian restaurant in Walnut Creek. And we're impressed with A.G. Ferrari...]
Ok, thanks I’ll give them a try. But I’m moving back east soon, so I’ll have to start all over in the Washington DC area (northern VA).

Posted by: A. Zarkov at January 22, 2005 05:50 PM

The Cheese Board Pizza Collective on Shattuck Ave. in North Berkeley makes a dynamite potato-based pizza at least a couple of times a month, and it's most excellent. The thing to understand is that there are no tomatoes involved ... just thin-sliced spuds (sometimes more than one variety), cheeses, onions, olive oil ... it's nearly addictive when done right.

Posted by: Jonathan King at February 5, 2005 08:56 AM

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