Cupola has all the markings of a stylish pizzeria, one of the many opening around the city – dark lighting, contemporary furnishings, glittery lighting and at the center in the back, a ceramic-tiled pizza oven with the warm glow of a wood fire inside.

I sat near the back with my friend Mary Lou and she said it didn’t feel like we were dining in a mall. And if we forgot about the many escalators we had to take to get to the restaurant, I would totally agree.

I chose Cupola for our dinner because Mary Lou was visiting from out of town and staying in Union Square, so the restaurant at the Westfield San Francisco Centre was more convenient than anything else.

Pork Belly Tortelli with sage and braising jus ($18.25)

Part of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, which also owns One Market, Cupola opened on the fourth floor with a cluster of restaurants just off the iconic Emporium dome at the shopping centre. Under Chef Christian Hermsdorf, the menu puts a definite California twist to traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas.

While the menu is limited to a few items in each section, you can tell Chef Hermsdorf has put a lot of thought in highlighting quality ingredients that will appeal to today’s customers. Take, for example, the pork belly tortelli ($18.25), a rich and satisfying plate of pasta sheets with the pork belly shining as flavor more than texture.

The pizza is just as satisfying, even though I’m not a particular fan of the chewy aspect of the airy crust. (I like my thin crust a bit more on the crispy side.) Blistered on the edges, the “primavera” pizza ($16.25) I shared with Mary Lou was a vegetarian delight combining artichoke hearts with roasted asparagus spears mixing with the sprinkling of salt and mascarpone cheese.

The salads could be a bit more interesting (we ordered the cruciferous “Dome” salad of fennel, carrots, red pepper and bread, $13.75), but the desserts featured all the Italian classics of chocolate budino, cannoli, panna cotta, spumoni and affogato. We ended the evening with a decent olive oil cake with strawberries and crème fraiche ($7.50).

Primavera pizza ($16.25) with artichoke, asparagus and pea tendrils with mascarpone

While Mary Lou and I got lost in our food and conversation, forgetting where we were, we were starkly reminded when we finished our meal and walked into the empty mall as stores closed just a few minutes earlier. Still, Cupola makes a strong attempt to rise above its location and to create a dining experience that can be found in any hip neighborhood in San Francisco.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps

 

 

Cupola Pizzeria, 845 Market St., 4th floor (inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre), San Francisco. PH: 415.896.5600. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. cupolasf.com

Cupola Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Cupola "Dome" Salad ($13.75) is an homage to the nearby Emporium Dome and is mostly a crunchy salad of carrots, fennel and bread

The restaurant is on the fourth floor of the Westfield shopping center

I sat facing the kitchen where I got a view of the hot pizzas coming out of the wood-fire oven

Olive oil cake with strawberries and creme fraiche ($7.50)

5 Responses to An Intimate Pizzeria in a Mall

  1. hungry dog says:

    Sounds like an interesting addition to Westfield. I like the look of that olive oil cake…seems like something I should try at home! Nice to know there’s another decent place in the mall. The few times I am in that mall I usually end up at Out the Door, which I love, but variety is good.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Oh, it must be awhile since you’ve been to Westfield because Out the Door has been closed a few months because of water damage in that basement spot. In fact, I think they’re moving upstairs to the top floors and will reopen there instead of downstairs. So it’ll be closer to Cupola. ;-)

  2. foodhoe says:

    how was the pasta? the salad looks very ho-hum, but I’m with hungry dog the cake looks delicious.

    • Ben Ben says:

      The pasta was great, nice deep pork flavor. You couldn’t tell it’s pork belly because it was chopped into bits for the filling, but the taste was there. I thought the cake was good but not amazing, I’m surprised everyone’s going ga-ga over it. :)

  3. Carolyn Jung says:

    Sorry to have missed the chow-down there. I do love the pizza at Cupola, too. The crust is so light and practically ethereal.

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