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Pizzeria Delfina, Burlingame CA


The Burlingame location marks the first Pizzeria Delfina outside of San Francisco. We wanted to retain the essence of the original pizzerias without relying on the rote application of a set of aesthetic rules that is often leaves “chain” restaurants that feeling soulless and impersonal. Instead, we devised a nuanced strategy that would allow the qualities unique to Pizzeria Delfina — an intimacy between patron and cook; an open kitchen that serves to energize and entertain the dining area; a heightened level of service — to shine through in any space or city while also feeling well-suited to each context.
Case in point: Burlingame’s warmer climate makes it possible for a stronger outdoor dining culture to flourish, and the Pizzeria’s sizable patio is a first for any of chef/owner Craig Stoll’s concepts. The South Bay location’s considerably larger interior allowed us to include a refined, wooden mezzanine-level dining area that overlooks the kitchen and can function as a private dining room. The main dining area is flooded with natural light and offers the most direct experience of the cooking and food preparation happening behind the bar.

Material similarities are extended throughout each location, but not to an inflexible degree, and only as far as they pay homage to the Neapolitan pizzerias that started it all. We invented a pixelated tile floor pattern that riffs on a traditional Italian mosaic motif by blowing it up to an ultra-magnified scale. Each outpost of Pizzeria Delfina has a chalkboard that displays the wait list; in Burlingame, the entire facade is fair game for people to doodle with chalk while they wait.

Each Pizzeria Delfina also has a mural of the classic Bay of Naples scene, reinterpreted for the San Francisco Bay. The classic depiction shows Naples as a thriving place of abundance overflowing with fruits of the land and the sea. But, always looming over the prosperity is Mount Vesuvius, a quiet reminder that nature is a powerful and ruthless force. PD Burlingame’s mural, rendered in the cartoon literalist style of SF-based artist Sirron Norris, is positioned to show diners precisely where they are in relation to landmarks of the Bay Area. The representation is jumbled and distorted, as if the earth’s plates had already given way to an earthquake, northern California’s own Mount Vesuvius.

All images © Mariko Reed