In recent years, San Francisco’s pizza scene has been all over the place. Old school spot Pauline’s Pizza & Wine Bar has closed after more than 30 years; we lost Una Pizza Napoletana to NYC; and Pizza Orgasmica and Escape from New York are now pizza joints of the past.
And while newcomer Che Fico slings a mean pie, the hype around the place means reservations weeks in advance. In other words, the timing feels right for the arrival of Flour + Water Pizzeria.
For 10 years now, Flour + Water has been defining our expectations for high-caliber homemade pastas while also turning out delicious but oft-overlooked pizzas. Now, chef Thomas McNaughton is ready to let his bubbly, charred, and chewy Neapolitan pies shine.
Flour + Water Pizzeria takes over the bustling corner of 18th and Valencia streets where Farina Pizza used to be; with a redesign by Studio KDA, they’ve opened up the space with large, wall-sized windows perfect for alfresco-ish dining. There are walnut wood tables and accents of emerald-green Heath tiles.
On the menu, expect some veggie antipasti, to-die-for mozzarella sticks, meatballs, fritto misto, a burrata dish, and a few salads. There’s also soft serve for dessert with a few choose-your-own toppings.
But, you’re obviously here for one thing. The pizza dough takes three days to ferment to get ready for baking. The pies are stretched and worked and then baked in a triple-deck oven. Take a look at the offering.
Inside Flour + Water Pizzeria
Flour + Water pizzeria sits at the much-traversed corner of 18th and Valencia streets, just a few blocks from Dolores Park. Take advantage of the Mission’s slightly warmer climate and snag one of the outdoor tables.
The stylish bar is an ideal spot to grab a glass of rosé or the house Cappelletti citrus spritz while you wait for a table—for now, things are walk-ins only.
There is also high counter seating in the dining area where you can watch the pizza-making action.
You won’t be remiss in starting with mozzarella sticks.
Before your carbo-binge, go for the kale salad with quinoa, sunflower seeds, a delightful fan of avocado, and thinly shaved carrots and squash with a light dressing of a lemon-yogurt vinaigrette.
Despite this being a pizza joint, there are some not-to-miss veggie starters. Snack on chopped asparagus, mushrooms, charred spring onion, and pine nuts (top); an eggplant conserva with pickled peppers and crunchy breadcrumbs (bottom right); or a summery salad of sliced cucumbers and radishes in an herb and chili marinade.
We love a classic dish of meatballs in red sauce. Here, prosciutto, pork, and beef are ground up and packed into perfect larger-than-bite-size morsels, swimming in a savory tomato, basil sauce with dollops of ricotta.
On the menu, pizzas are divided into “red” and “white” categories, each offering up five different combinations of toppings and sauces. This speck white pizza is nicely balanced with layers of slightly bitter braised cabbage offset against salty speck, plus an ample amount of mozzarella.
In the red pie section, we’re partial to the salty sausage pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, gaeta olives, and capers. Whatever you do, make sure to get sides of the herbaceous housemade ranch (we’re already wishing this was sold by the bottle to take home).
Our preferred method of ending any meal: soft-serve ice cream. Flour + Water Pizzeria offers two flavors: fior di latte and salted caramel. Pick just one, or get a swirl, and top it with your choice of rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sauce, Amarena cherries, hot honey, or EVOO and sea salt (pictured).
If you’re not in the mood to wait, or want something quick to much on at Dolores Park, hit up the takeout window just past the south end of the restaurant on Valencia. Here you can grab The Big Slice, a to-go only, rotating, daily special equal to the 1/2 the size of a regular pie. Pro-tip: You can also snag the soft serve for takeaway.
// Flour + Water Pizzeria, 702 Valencia St. (Mission), flourandwaterpizzeria.com
This article was originally written and photographed by me for 7×7 and can be viewed here.
Looking for another awesome Italian spot? Try the recently opened Che Fico Alimentari.