Several of you have tipped us that the best pizza in San Francisco is being clandestinely sold out of Club Deluxe like it's some sort of pizza speakeasy. We decided we needed to know more about what makes it so face-meltingly good.
To find out more, we chatted with Giovanni Iaccarino, who designed the menu at Club Deluxe, incuding the salads and desserts. The pizzas, though, are his babies. (Well, actually, his newborn is his baby. Congrats!)
He lives in the neighborhood, and he started at Club Deluxe about four years ago. At the time, they only offered 3 pizza styles. Giovanni considered it a hobby - he worked only three days, and had a day job. Then, it started catching on. Club Deluxe saw an increase in business. Giovanni expanded the menu to 6 varieties, then to 12, and eventually to the 20 they currently offer. Although the business is growing, they don't plan to extend the menu too far. He tells us they plan to stick to what they do best: pizza.
What's amazing is that neither Giovanni nor Club Deluxe does any real advertising or promotion for the pizza. They have a sandwich board sign out front, and word of mouth does the rest of the work.
So what makes the pizza so good? Glad you asked.
Giovanni credits high-quality ingredients and attention to detail. He imports his flour from Naples, they marinate their brandy sausage on-site, the meatballs are homemade, and each pizza is hand-made, one at a time.
Everything - the vine-ripened tomatoes, the basil, the garlic, the olive oil - is organic, locally sourced, and always fresh. And if you've noticed that the cheese is never brown, that's because it's a superior kind that stays white when you cook it.
Also, thanks to his food technologist past (when he started out in the biz, he worked for a multinational pizza corporation and helped design a system that could make and cook a pizza in under three minutes - "Sort of like a Ferrari engine. The oven was 1600 degrees."), Giovanni actually modified the oven at Club Deluxe to better suit the artisan pizzas he wanted to craft. It's not the kind of wood-burning stove that most pizza places use - instead, it's an older, more conventional oven that burns hotter.
We asked him what his favorite pizza on the menu is, and he told us he loves the white pizzas, but otherwise couldn't commit. However, he did tell us that Murder at Midnight (tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and shaved parmigiano) is sort of a cult favorite. Goorin Bros. loves it so much that they designed a hat for it. It's a consignment design, and it's on sale over there now, if you want to go check it out. He tells us they're planning to do a neighborhood pizza and fedora party with Goorin Bros. in the near future, so we'll make sure to tell you about that.
In the meantime, go have some pizza!
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