Richmond District hit (and current Eater 38 Essential SF restaurant) Fiorella is bringing its neighborhood Italian favorites to a new neighborhood: Russian Hill, where a second Fiorella opens on Thursday, March 7. The new location at 2238 Polk is in the former home of another pizzeria, Gioia, which closed in October to relocate to a smaller Hayes Valley space.
Diners familiar with Fiorella’s existing location on Clement Street, which partners Boris Nemchenok (Uva Enoteca) and Brandon Gillis (the former Franny’s in Brooklyn) opened in 2016, will feel right at home inside the new Polk Street Fiorella location. The 35-seat dining room (plus bar seating for 12 with views into an open kitchen) was designed, once again, by Melinda Turner: It features the same Instagram-famous “Bay Area toile” wallpaper as the original location, wth images of local celebs like Alice Waters and Joe Montana, and another 5,000-pound wood-fired pizza oven commands the new space.
But an exact clone of the original Fiorella this is not. “We’re replicating Fiorella, but trying to make it its own,” says Nemchenok. “That’s the challenge.”
“You’ll walk in and be like, okay this is Fiorella — but it definitely has it’s own characteristics.”
Some of those are edible. Yes, the new Fiorella menu from executive chef Eli Franco and chef de cuisine Matt Donnellan, offers hits from the Richmond restaurant, like its crispy suppli with smoked mozzarella, spaghetti cacio e pepe, and burrata pizza with a blistered crust.
But a new emphasis on house-made pastas means more options like ricotta cavatelli al chicken sugo, and a new push for house-made charcuterie means a mortadella pizza (with fonduta, pistachio, and “cherry bomb” salsa verde). A very popular burger from the team’s Clement Street bar and tavern, Violet’s, is available on Tuesdays. And, finally, calzones (offered only at brunch on Clement Street) will get more spotlight on Fiorella’s Polk Street dinner menu.
“They need to have their moment,” says Nemchenok.
The new, larger bar at Fiorella on Polk will offer another list of wine from Italy and California, selected by wine director Chris Tarbell. Fifteen options are available in eight ounce “quartino” pours, as on Clement, and low ABV cocktails like a Fiorella Spritz (Prosecco, Cappelletti, orange) are here, too.
For Nemchenok and Gillis, Richmond District denizens, their restaurant group’s expansion beyond their own neighborhood is definitely novel. But it’s not a total departure.
“It’s an amazing neighborhood,” Nemchenok says of the new area. “It has its own vibe and style, but there’s also a need for a good neighborhood Italian spot, and we’re bringing that to Russian Hill.”