Lets break the seal on this week's review smorgasbord with The Enduring Kauff, shot to the heart of SF's pulse-quickening pizza melee at the hotly attended Zero Zero: "With pizza, like Rolling Stones tours and David Hasselhoff's career, there is no end in sight." Kauff gets right down to it from the start: "Over the course of two meals, I had one superb pizza, one good pizza, and two pies of desperate mediocrity." Later, "the charm of Picco's soft-serve ice cream didn't survive the upscaling, either. Ten dollars bought me — twice — a bowl of ice cream extruded with all the care of a stoned college kid on a 2 a.m. run to the 7-Eleven." But that doesn't mean it didn't taste good. In the end, Kauff concedes Bruce Hill's joint has the trappings of success: great location, good line cooks and "respectable" basic pies.
"But the competition among high-end pizzerias is intensifying, and the notations in diners' spreadsheets are becoming more subtle and sharp-tongued. If Zero Zero wants citywide acclaim in addition to a steady customer base, there's refining to do."[SF Weekly]
Reidinger tries out Jocelyn Bulow's jaunt into Mexicana at Papito on Potrero Hill. By implication, the quesadillas are the best thing here: "This is a serious, heavyweight, mealworthy quesadilla, not a finger snack for the middle of a busy Saturday afternoon." And frijoles negros are the only real flop. In summary: "New World ingredients, Old World style, subtly transcendent result." [SFBG]
Meanwhile Sir Bauer chokes up upon entering the centuries-old Sam's Grill for this week's Datebook Update. Clips like "One of the crepes in the French pancakes ($4) was lightly browned and tender; the other was dark, almost burned, and leathery" "the clam chowder ($5), with bits of tomatoes and a tinny taste as if it came from a can," make his experience sound dull. By some miracle -- a nod to Mad Men, perhaps? -- the joint hangs onto 2.5 stars. [Chron]
The Elsewhere: The Merc raves about Michael Dotson's menu at Martins West gastropub in Redwood City; Metro SV goes beyond pho at the Vietnamese Banh Xeo; the Marin IJ thinks Breakers Cafe in Stinson needs some work; the EBX likes the non-trite pubby feel at Oakland's CommonWealth Cafe; Bargain Bite likes the clay pot specials at Utopia Cafe in Chinatown; and the second Datebook review is of Don Pistos, the rare Mexican restaurant in North Beach, which gets 2.5 stars.