The pandemic and the extra-slow recovery of downtown have taken out another well-loved, established restaurant.
It's the end of Zero Zero after next week, as chef-owner Bruce Hill tells Eater today that business has been "just too tough" in the last year to justify staying open. The busy, two-story pizza palace at Folsom and Fourth that used to serve 300 people a day for lunch and dinner, he says, has just been eking by serving dinner five nights a week — as well as selling frozen pizzas out of the restaurant and three markets around town.
"I love pizza and I’d love to be involved in a wood-fired pizza business in the future,” Hill tells Eater. "But, for now, I’ve got my hands full."
The last day for pizza at Zero Zero will be Saturday, November 12.
Named for the type of finely ground flour used by master pizzaiolos in Napoli, called 00 or zero-zero flour, Zero Zero debuted in 2010 during both a pizza and a restaurant renaissance in SF. Always a pizza lover himself, Michael Bauer gushed in the Chronicle in his first review, "Pizza continues to go upscale, and what the French Laundry is to fine dining, San Francisco's Zero Zero is to pizza."
Hill, who made his name at Picco and Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, entered the pizza fray here in the city just as Tony's Pizza Napoletana was taking off in North Beach, and just before New York pizza legend Anthony Mangieri brought his Una Pizza Napoletana to another part of SoMa. (RIP, and Mangieri is back slinging pies just three nights a week in NYC.) Together, the restaurants showed San Francisco the superiority of pizzas fired fast in an ultra-hot wood oven, producing floppy but gloriously blistered pies.
Zero Zero classed things up with excellent appetizers, salads, pastas, and cocktails as well — Mangieri's place famously sold nothing but pizza, full stop, and there was a brief wine list, while Tony's expanded its menu to include apps and about a dozen other pizza styles.
Hill will continue to serve as executive chef at Bix — another downtown restaurant that is hoping its former crowds return, but one with a specific, celebratory atmosphere.
We'll have to wait and see where chef Jose Canto, who's been with the restaurant all 12 years, ultimately lands.
So, farewell Zero Zero! And now there's yet another, prominent restaurant space that will need filling.