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CultureFood & DrinkGood Taste: New Little Original Joe's is most inclusive...

Good Taste: New Little Original Joe’s is most inclusive yet

Gluten-free fusilli and tricolore pizza at an Original Joe's outpost? It's a delicious hit.

Welcome back to Good Taste, a menu for eating well in the Bay Area. This week, we visited the latest restaurant from siblings Elena and John Duggan, the restaurateurs behind Original Joe’s, Little Original Joe’s, and Elena’s, and tried out its sea-changing menu.

The new Marina location of Little Original Joe’s (2301 Chestnut Street, SF) opened last month in a former Lucky Jeans store. The space has been transformed into a tasteful black, white, and red Art Deco-inspired restaurant that fits in with the other concepts in the Duggan’s classic San Francisco restaurant group.

It’s the second location for the Little Original Joe’s concept—the first is in West Portal—and focuses on pasta, pizza, and parmigiana. (In that way it echoes, yet snappily updates, the classic Original Joe’s in North Beach and Westlake, where you’ll find 48 Hills Arts Editor Marke B. on many a Friday afternoon.) But there’s one key difference that makes this spot more inclusive than the others: gluten-free pasta and pizza.

Tricolore pizza with gluten-free crust

Gluten-free fusilli made from rice flour can be substituted for most of the pasta dishes on the menu, and any pizzas, including custom orders, can be made with a gluten-free pizza crust that contains brown rice flour. This is wonderful to see from such a red sauce institution as the Joe’s family of restaurants. When having dinner at the restaurant’s invitation last night, the manager told us that having gluten-free pizza and pasta options have been most welcomed at this new location in the month that it has been open, and the gluten-free crust accounts so far for around 30% of the pizza orders.

We tried a Tricolore pizza on the gluten-free crust, with spicy vodka sauce, pesto, and tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, and spicy Italian sausage. It’s thinner and crispier than their pies made with glutinous dough, which is a nice choice to have whether or not there’s a personal intolerance to gluten. 

Zucchini fries
Marinated olives + whipped ricotta

The location also has exclusive items like a tower of zucchini fries that is an instant game of Jenga to play at the table, an appetizer of marinated olives and whipped ricotta, a dazzling mafalde pasta with cacio and nutty salsa macha, and plump half rotisserie chickens from Mary’s with crispy skin and an array of sauces. If you can somehow make it to dessert after such healthy portions, the options include the show-stopping butter cake that’s available at Original Joe’s in North Beach and Westlake, a giant skillet chocolate chip cookie, and a light as air amaretti cheesecake from Zanze’s, the local business that the Duggan’s are carrying on after Mr. Zanze decided to retire a few years ago.

Mary’s rotisserie half-chicken
Mafalde cacio e pepe

The new Little Original Joe’s has already attracted regulars, like the pair of octogenarian friends we sat next to last night who have come in for dinner each week since it’s been open. We asked if this was going to remain a weekly ritual.

“Probably!” one exclaimed with a smile.

“See you next week!” we replied.

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