Hot off being recognized as one of the most outstanding chefs in the country by the James Beard Foundation earlier this year, chef David Nayfeld is ready to announce his next move: Back Home Hospitality, the restaurant group that includes co-owner Matt Brewer and Nayfeld’s Divisadero Street restaurants the Michelin Guide-listed Che Fico and more casual Che Fico Alimentari, will open a pizza-focused spinoff called Che Fico Pizzeria at Thrive City later this year.
The restaurant will specifically move into the space just above chef Tyler Florence’s upscale steakhouse Miller & Lux, which means diners can expect both bay views and easy access to Chase Center next door. Nayfeld says the pizzeria has been a long time coming; Che Fico fans have been asking for a place to see the restaurant’s naturally fermented dough take center stage since pretty much Day 1. “To me, it’s really been kind of a super natural thing,” Nayfeld says, “because we’ve talked about doing a pizzeria literally since the first days of Che Fico because the pizza became such a cult classic.”
Nayfeld says he wasn’t looking for an opportunity to expand, but this one came up at the right time. Historically, doing pizza at a high volume out of Che Fico’s wood-fired oven didn’t make sense. But after the pandemic, the chef installed deck ovens downstairs at Che Fico Alimentari, which opened up new possibilities for lots and lots of pizza. So when the team at Chase Center approached him about the Mission Bay space, he took it.
The Che Fico Pizzeria menu will offer both whole pies and slices, plus an unfussy selection of salads, sandwiches, and soft-serve gelato. But even if the menu seems straightforward, Nayfeld promises the pizzeria will maintain the ethos and quality diners have come to associate with its big sister restaurant. That means Bianco di Napoli tomatoes, hand-pulled mozzarella, and seasonal farmers market produce scattered across the menu. Nayfeld’s excited to bring over some of the “seasonal OG” pizzas from Che Fico — for example, the Sungold tomato pie for summer and fontina and truffle in the winter. And, of course, classics including the Ode to Judy Rodgers and pineapple and chile-topped Ananas will come over too.
Since the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Nayfeld says he’s also thoughtful of diners who want something lighter than pizza for lunch, so there will be a selection of “protein-driven salads.” A full bar means cocktails, too, with a focus on light spritzes that will reflect what’s in season paired with an expansive selection of Italian amari. The wine list will include value-driven selections, though Nayfeld promises that anyone looking to ball out on a nicer bottle before a game will be able to do that as well.
The chef says he envisions a lively space with plenty of outdoor seating and lots of TVs. They’ll show all the usual Bay Area teams, naturally, but Nayfeld’s also excited to show pretty much anything sports fans may want to see. “To me, it’s a place where you’re going to be able to come and watch sports from all over the world,” he says. Jon de la Cruz of DLC ID, who also designed Che Fico, will take the lead here too. And there will be a walk-up window for people who want to pop by and grab a slice or a gelato to-go. He’s planning some boozy dessert options too: think a peach sorbetto spritz for summer or lambrusco paired with a scoop of grape.
Nayfeld says he’s excited to bring the business to the neighborhood. “I do think Mission Bay, in my view, is actually one of the more exciting neighborhoods in all of San Francisco,” says the chef, who’s been cheering on the Warriors since he was a kid. “I've been a fan my whole life, so now to be able to do something with them is absolutely a dream come true.”