The Best Pizza in America?
This is a copy of a recent article for SFist in which I eat my way around the Bay Area in alphabetical order and then write about it in SFist style using the 'royal we'. The the letter M was published a few weeks ago whilst I was on vacation.
Mmmmmm! One letter repeated many times that describes a state of deliciousness. Hence, we had high hopes for the letter M. There are so many Bay Area eateries beginning with the alphabet's middle letter, which one would we choose?
A return trip to sumptuous Supper Club Mecca lacked the lustre and glamour of previous visits. It seemed overly expensive, the food was so-so and we were shocked speechless when the waiter told us that it was a better idea to keep our rosé chilled in an out-of-sight fridge than it would be to put it in an ice bucket at our table as we'd requested. Next we decided to try out Moshi Moshi on a Monday for their poetry mic night that we'd heard fun things about. Well, poetry might be a good way to draw the crowds to a sushi place on Mondays when the fish is less than stellar, but on our visit, there was none of the advertised verse on display. Not even a haiku. The fish was disappointing, and we'd rather remember Moshi Moshi on a good day instead.
With a couple of failed Ms under our belt, we decided no more messing, let's go straight for the top. And so we decided to test the reputed pinnacle of pie and the Best Pizza in America.
'Huh?' say you, 'who says?' Well, the Food Network says, actually, after they staged a competition to settle the argument once and for all. Mulberry Street Pizza, up on the North Side of San Rafael trounced competitors from all over the country, including New York, to take home the coveted bragging rights.
If you have any serious sensibilities about what a good pizza should be, don't bother with a journey up 101 North because Mulberry Street just won't be on the same wavelength. Their pizzas claim to be New York style and, unlike many of the new kids on the Bay Area block, have nothing to do with trying to create a true taste of Neopolitan Italy.
Mulberry Street's prize-winning 'For the Love of Mushrooms' 'pie is certainly a temptation for fans of funghi. Don't ignore the words rich and filling on the menu. They really do mean it. A toasty wholewheat base with no red sauce is topped with a mountain of garlicky mushrooms, and enough cheese to feed an extended family of mice for an entire week. And for some, otherwise inexplicable reason, they probably wanted to catch they eye of the judges, including Mario Batali, with a something unique, they dribble the top of the pizza with an ugly purple-pink creme fraiche and wine sauce. This bizarre flourish, looking something like a bad graphic design experiment, adds nothing, except visual originality, to the end result. The pizza isn't actually bad, it's just not our kind of pie, it's not what we dream of when we think of pizza. It's too much food, as well. We defy a regularly-sized person, with an average appetite, to eat more than two out of the six enormous slices. This king of all American pizzas tastes more like a homemade, vegetarian student experiment than the kind of pie we like to spend our money on when paying to go out to eat.
So why would anyone come to this unfashionable part of Marin to spend money on pizza anyway? Well, it's certainly not for the decor. It would be hard to find uglier wallpaper. It can't be because of the quirky caesar salad special we encountered either. Experimental and gimmicky, it comes as no surprise that the pile of pink sushi ginger was served in a bowl on the side, because when you mix it in, with the lettuce, dressing and cheese it makes one of the most awful food combinations we have ever tasted. What was the chef thinking? If Mulberry was a bargain, it would go some way to explaining its popularity. But, even for Marin, it's pricey. We've been eating well, at lunchtimes in Marin, for over four years and can't remember a lunch bill quite so expensive ($50+ for two pizzas, two tiny glasses of wine and a salad.) Well, they must be doing something right, afterall, they do make the best pizza in America...
Mulberry Street Pizzeria
101 Smith Ranch Road
San Rafael, CA
|Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 I wote the first review of many about Tabla, which over the last year has become my absolute favourite lunch spot in Marin.|
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