San Francisco is known for a lot of things, but its own unique style of pizza is not one of them. A list of heavy-hitting pizzerias in the Bay Area includes those that offer Neapolitan pizza, New York-style pies or even Detroit-style square pies. None of those styles originated in the Bay, even if many a Bay Area pizzaiolo has perfected it there and made it their own.

But, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, there’s a new adopted style that’s making its home in the Bay. Chicago-born tavern pizza—sometimes known as “bar”-style pizza—seems to be cropping up on menus all across San Francisco and its surrounding metro area. The style, likely Chicago’s second-most famous style, behind deep dish, is known for its thin crust and square slices.

The Chronicle points out that almost none of the brands menuing tavern-style pizza specialize in it. In fact, the publication could only identify one pizzeria in the Bay that is solely focused on tavern-style pies: Last Round Tavern, a San Jose joint which opened in 2019. Rather, pizzerias that typically focus on other styles have begun adding tavern-style pies to the menu. One such pizzeria is Sunset Squares, which usually does Detroit-style pizza.

Related: How 50 Top Pizza Selects the Best Pizzerias in the World

Other pizzerias offering the tavern-style pies include Tony Gemignani’s Capo in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, specializing in both Detroit- and Chicago-style pies. More recently, Cellarmaker House of Pizza—a brewery that offers Detroit-style pizza, with locations in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley—added tavern-style pizza options to the menu. So did newcomer Croccante, based in Napa.

Three tavern-style pizzas on a table.


So the question is why? It’s a simple answer, really, Croccante owner Hakan Kostek told the Chronicle. It’s simply about wanting to give customers “another option for those who love crispy and less doughy thin-crust pizza.” In other words, it’s a perfect complement to pan-style pizzas.

The Chronicle notes that there are nuances between the tavern-style pies offered by each location. For example, Cellarmaker’s pies are a bit thicker, “with a cheese-lined perimeter similar to a Detroit-style frico crust.” Croccante goes the other direction, with a true “cracker-like texture and flavorful tomato sauce, which is complemented by a mix of pepperoni and fennel-forward sausage (a staple of the genre).”

Last Round Tavern

Some pizzerias focus on other areas to establish Chicago authenticity, with Sunset Squares and Last Round Tavern offering a combination of sausage and giardiniera—an Italian pickle relish.

“Meanwhile, the Last Round’s Wrigleyville…features chewy, crisp sourdough with a more even spread of the pickle mix,” Cesar Hernandez writes for the Chronicle. “Despite having the thinnest dough, it’s the largest and heaviest [pizza] on the market.”

There’s a right way to eat the pizza, too, Hernandez said. “For peak texture, I advise you to try a slice as soon as the pie hits the table,” he wrote. “First, go for an edge slice, then a middle piece, to survey the difference. Your preference says a lot about you, so choose carefully.”

Food & Ingredients