Pizza devotees have no doubt made the pilgrimage to the Outer Richmond for Pizzetta 211’s much-loved thin-crust pies. Now, more health-conscious (and potentially the gluten-intolerant) can get a taste of the team’s talents at their new nearby restaurant, Pearl, where they’re serving a fusion of casual seafood and American comfort fare.
From Mel Lopez (Pizzetta 211, Aziza, Zero Zero) and Joyce Conway (Zero Zero, 20 Spot), the women who brought us the monthly pop-up series B.L.U.D (aka Bitches Liven Up Dinner), Pearl is the evolution of those dinners with a culty following, an expansion of the menus themed around seasonal ingredients and ample creative flair.
From the outside, Pearl, once home to a drugstore and a dry cleaners, is an unassuming neighborhood corner spot, but the interior has all the feels of a classic seafood restaurant: white-painted pilasters, blue-and-white-tiled floors, rattan bar stools, simple globe pendants, and casual wooden tables. Seventeen-foot ceilings ensure a sunny vibe by day, and caramel leather booths provide a comfy space to settle in. A wrap-around marble bar takes centerstage, and the large wood-fired oven warms things up in back.
As you’d expect, there are oysters, served with fermented hot sauce and horseradish, at the start, as well as apps of local halibut crudo and mussels escabeche. For something that sticks to your bones on chilly San Francisco nights, try a hearty pasta, including a savory white Bolognese or a potato gnocchi with roasted ricotta salata, or entrees of seared albacore tuna atop bountiful summer veggies; chicken remoulade; and grilled gulf prawns. Feeding the whole fam? The $120 tomahawk chop with chili-cheese polenta, asparagus, and cipollinis should do the trick. Live in the ‘hood? Stop by in the morning for coffee and pastries as well as weekend brunch.
As if it weren’t all friendly enough, Pearl will be 100 percent employee-owned and operated, and each team member supports different functions of the restaurant—so expect to see cooks running plates out to tables and front-of-house staffers getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. It’s a fresh breath of sea air.
Storefront windows and pale blue tiles announce the corner entrance to Pearl, located in the Outer Richmond.
The 40-seat restaurant offers booths and tables, but I recommend grabbing a stool at the bar for oysters and cocktails.
Comfy booths are ideal for intimate dates for family dinners.
The halibut crudo is simply stunning, with small cubes of strawberries, crumbles of Marcona almonds, and slices of serrano chilies swimming in a citrusy marinade.
Served bubbling hot from the live fire oven, the baked ricotta with green garlic, herbs, and chili is a decadent companion to buttery crostini.
Pretty sure soup doesn’t get much prettier than this. The creamy blend of carrots and berbere spice, drizzled with mint yogurt and crunchy pepitas, will be a treat for your spoon.
The chicory Caesar has officially moved to the top of my list of favorite salads in the city—of course that has nothing to do with the generous helping of shaved parmesan, crispy prosciutto, and freshly roasted garlic croutons. What lettuce?
Wish I could handle seconds of this handkerchief pasta in rich white Bolognese sauce, with shavings of grana padano and a smattering of herbs.
Plump gulf prawns, grilled to perfection and served over a bed of sugar snap peas and farro prepared a la risotto and brightened with a hint of lemon.
You’ll want to leave room for dessert. Still thinking about this black sesame and miso caramel sundae served over a strawberry jam with crispy puffed rice topping!