Jon Darsky, who apprenticed with Charlie Hallowell at Pizzaiola, went pro at Delfina Pizzeria, and became the much lauded pizza maker at Flour + Water, has struck out on his own. No, he has not opened a brick and mortar pizzeria. Rather he designed and had fabricated a pizzeria in a shipping container mounted on a full size commercial truck. Allowing for no compromise and sparing no expense, he insisted on a full size wood burning pizza oven made in Italy, sleek glass doors on one side so his pizza supplicants could watch, and room for his wood pile. From this mobile kitchen he turns out pizzas equal to the best in the world: Naples, Oakland, San Francisco.
His Del Popolo pizzas have pillowy, soft crusts that are provocatively chewy and elastic with crunchy fire licked edges. They are so exciting to eat you can’t believe that they are a product of mere flour and water. His spare toppings pay homage to this expressive crust. Darsky has internalized Italian sensibility of balance and proportion based on small amounts of high quality ingredients. He makes only three different kinds of pizza.
His margherita ($10) gets fresh mozzarella; extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, tomatoes and few leaves of basil. You cannot believe that something a simple as this can taste so complete until you have his pizza bianco ($11) with fresh mozzarella and ricotta, grana padano (a milder more buttery kind of parmigiano), basil and garlic. The bianco may not have tartness of tomatoes but it revels in richness, in umami, underscored by a whisper of garlic.
I have yet to wolf down his third: mozzarella, rapini, spicy salami, red onion, chile oil ($14), but it’s so hard to find him. He books up with private events, so he doesn’t even appear on the street. When he does, he only has about 100 doughs. He told me how tiring it is–to make and nurse the doughs all night, to drive the truck (he had to get a Class B license in Fresno), to tend the fire, to prep and cook all the pizzas. So, if you don’t get to his truck early, he might run out. Any and all effort and inconvenience will be forgotten with first bite.
Somewhat regularly he appears at these sites:
Across from the Contemporary Jewish Museum on Mission Street from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays;
Across from Costco on 11th at Division, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays; Mint Plaza from 11:30 to 2 p.m. on Thursdays;
Jackson and Front from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.
But maybe not. You must check on line: www.delpopolosf.com.