I think I embarrassed Emilia’s Pizzeria owner and chef Keith Freilich when I called him out as prominently featured in Sunset magazine’s recent Bay Area pizza roundup (one question on that, regarding the bit about Flour and Water being located on an abandoned, seedy stretch of the Mission -- did the writer ever notice the relatively new yup-scale lofts blossoming all around that block?). Hey, it’s worth noting since Emilia’s is likely the least showy pizzeria of the entire lot.
First of all, it’s itty-bitty -- about four tables large with questionable pinky-orange walls -- and second, it’s extremely hands-on and intimate: Freilich makes all the pizzas himself, so be warned, the wait can get pretty long. Better to call ahead. Just ask what’s on the menu that day -- usually red onion, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, sopressata, or spicy Italian sausage, are available as toppings for the 18-inch margherita, wrought with a bright tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Then give it about an hour, unless you’re hankering for a pie at the typical dinnertime -- then who knows. The wait -- and the price (pizzas are $18 and up) -- are worth it: the pie is blissfully simple and fresh ala the Cheeseboard -- so much so that the margherita will do me just fine next time -- and with a delightfully blistered thin crust and truly toothsome sausage. Freilich has just the right touch when it comes to the application of basil, too.
A pizzeria has been in this teensy spot on Shattuck, obscured by the nearby taco spot and the corner bodega, for give or take a few decades, but Freilich is making his presence felt in the mere six months he’s been here -- doing a few things very, very well. You just have to get there before he closes up shop each night: when he runs out of dough, out go the lights.
2995 Shattuck, Berk.