Columbus Street hit Il Casaro starts firing up the imported Neapolitan pizza oven at a new Church Street location this Saturday. And this one’s even bigger than the hearth that’s drawn fans to Il Casaro’s North Beach location since 2014 — allowing the new location at 235 Church Street to serve wood-fired menu items beyond pizza, like roasted vegetables. A full kitchen means the team is serving some pasta dishes, too, and a full liquor license spells cocktails. The dining room seats 55, and a 40-seat backyard patio still awaits conditional use approval.
The new Castro Il Casaro is the first venture beyond North Beach for owners Francesco Covucci and Peter Fazio, who have been prolific in that Italian-American neighborhood, running Pasta Pop-Up (permanent, despite the name) and Barbara, which serves cocktails and pinsa, pizza’s older Roman cousin.
And Il Casaro on Church Street is also a long time coming. The new location has been in the works for more than two years, delayed by a city-mandated seismic retrofit of the property. When Covucci and Fazio were finally handed the keys to the restaurant space, they found that a new support beam was placed where they previously planned to put their pizza oven, forcing them to redraw and resubmit their layout plans.
But all that slowness will soon be forgotten when Il Casaro starts firing pizzas in 90 seconds or fewer. The restaurant’s dough is made from imported Caputo flour, and the sauce is from San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes. Il Casaro, which means the cheesemaker, is also known for its mozzarella di bufala, fior di latte mozzarella, and imported burrata, plus pizza toppings like prosciutto or ricotta salata and fried eggplant.
If it’s up to Covucci, this won’t be the last Il Casaro to open in San Francisco: In fact, he’d like to see one in every neighborhood. “I think, that’s the philosophy of the pizzeria itself, to have accessibility, affordability ... that’s the concept,” Covucci says. Il Casaro’s margherita pizza is $13, and delivery and to-go orders will be available at the Church Street location, as they are in North Beach.
Starting Saturday, June 22, Il Casaro is open on Church Street from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and Friday Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight, with a brunch menu coming soon.