Good, even decent pizza remains my white whale here in SF. And yes, we've tried all of them, cheap or fancy; A16, Delfina, Giorgios, Pizzetta 211, blah, blah, blah. All are mediocre to "acceptably pizza" at best.
One of my pals from NJ is Anthony Mangieri, king of Una Pizza Napoletana on East 12th near 1st ave. I challenge you to find a more delicious pizza anywhere in the US. It's just not going to happen. And I challenge you to find a more dedicated pizza-man than Anthony. He even taught me and the wife how to make pizza at home with flour he got us from Brooklyn. You can read more about his greatness in the NY Times.
But what Anthony offers is more of an artisan product, not a typical slice. You would think that you could get a decent slice of east coast pizza in this town (or anywhere in CA) but it just doesn't seem possible. One theory on the development of a great pizza is the water:
"As you cook, some ingredients vaporize, and these volatilized particles can attach themselves to the walls of the baking cavity," Tisi says. "The next time you use the oven, these bits get caught up in the convection currents and deposited on the food, which adds flavor." Over time, he says, more particles join the mix and mingle with the savory soot from burned wood or coal -- the only fuels worth using -- to create a flavor that you can't grow in a garden: gestalt, if you will.
I buy the water argument to a point--that point is where I bring up Shaka Pizza on Maui. Shaka is owned by a couple of guys from the Jersey Shore and their pizza is damn-near east coast.
In light of this posting, we're going to go make some dough and rock out tonite. Joe Brown, from Wired, you are invited anytime.