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Mozzeria: Neapolitan pizza from S.F.'s first deaf-owned restaurant

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Pizza at Mozzeria

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San Francisco’s newest Mission pizzeria is not what one might expect. Despite being on a bustling stretch of hip restaurants on 16th and Guerrero, Mozzeria is noticeably quiet and bright for dinnertime. The reason why? Mozzeria’s owners, Melody and Russell Stein, are deaf, and American Sign Language, along with a whole lot of nodding, pointing, smiling, and writing on notepads, take the place of the usual restaurant staff chatter and background noise.

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The Steins opened the sleek and cozy Mozzeria just a little over a month ago in December 2011. Named as a tribute to Russell’s fondness for mozzarella cheese and pizza (Mozzarella + Pizzeria = Mozzeria), the restaurant aims to reflect diversity in decor and cuisine, mixing the cultures present in the Mission district and San Francisco with people from different walks of life. “I love food, and also love being surrounded by people who also love food,” said Melody. “I always wanted to run a small restaurant, and invite friends to try new dishes.”

Mozzeria serves traditional and non-traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas. The pizzas have thin, crispy and chewy crusts, cooked till blistered in the enormous 1000-degree Stefano Ferrara wood-burning oven imported from Naples, which also serves as the centerpiece of the restaurant.

Toppings range from the classic margherita, to inventive combinations such as the well-balanced flavors of the sausage pizza with Italian sausage, fennel, red onion, fresh mozzarella and white garlic sauce. The pancetta pizza was less of a hit, with the taste and weight of the caramelized onions overwhelming the delicate crust. But with that said, Mozzeria still deserves a visit. It’s a unique restaurant with an admirable mission and philosophy in a city where gourmet pizzerias are a dime a dozen. Plus, they know their crust.

In addition to pizza, Mozzeria serves small plates, soups, meat & cheese plates, and pasta on the menu. They serve dinner Tuesday through Sundays, and also brunch on weekends.

Location: 3228 16th St (between Guerrero & Spencer St.), San Francisco, CA 94103

Dinner Hours: Tues-Thurs: 5:30-10pm; Fri & Sat: 5:30-11pm; Sun: 5:30-10pm; Closed Mondays

Brunch Hours: Sat & Sun: 10am-2pm

Price Range: Pizzas range from $12 - $15 for a pizza cut into four slices

Credit Cards: ISA, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express and Discover

Reservations: not required, but available through Mozzeria.com or on OpenTable.com.

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