Sometimes, even the most dedicated culinary explorer needs a break from the endless fancy food of San Francisco . When the time is right for a plain ol’ pizza, head for Little Star Pizza (400 Valencia St., 415/551-7827, www.littlestarpizza.com , Tues.–Thurs., Sun. 5–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat. 5–11 p.m., $10–15). A jewel of the Mission district , this pizzeria specializes in Chicago-style deep-dish pies, but also serves thin-crust pizzas for devotees of the New York style.
Once you’ve found the all-black building and taken a seat inside the casual eatery, grab a beer or a cocktail from the bar if you have to wait for a table. Pick one of Little Star’s specialty pizzas, or create your own variation from the toppings they offer. Can’t get enough of Little Star? They’ve got a second restaurant in the Western Addition at 846 Divisadero Street (415/441-1118).
On the other end of the Italian spectrum, you’ll find Delfina (3621 18th St., 415/552-4055, www.delfinasf.com , Mon.–Thurs. and Sun. 5:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat, 5:30–11 p.m., $18–26). Delfina takes Italian cuisine and gives it a hearty California twist. From the antipasti to the entrées, all the dishes speak of local farms and ranches, fresh seasonal produce, and the best Italian-American taste that money can buy.
With both a charming warm indoor dining room and an outdoor garden patio, there’s plenty of seating at this lovely restaurant. As for the service? The wait staff at Delfina have actually won awards.