Cellarmaker Brewing Company is, first and foremost, a brewery, with a dizzying selection of small-batch beers: IPAs, ales, pale ales, sours, pilsners and lagers. Owners/brewistas Connor Casey, Tim Sciascia and Kelly Sciascia are apparently forever concocting exciting new flavors you never knew you needed to try, so the list changes often, and there’s no time to get bored with the options. Bonus: The place feels much more like a good old divey neighborhood bar than a restaurant, with regulars who know each other’s names, plus mighty fine food to boot.
Waiting on friends, I started with the Coffee & Cigarettes Smoked Coffee Porter.
Dark and lovely, smokey, with a tinge of bitterness, but not heavy — decidedly not like eating a loaf of bread, as so many porters can be.
For eats, we shared the pickled beet salad:
With toasted pepitas, red onion, greens, and feta, this salad had a lot of potential, but just needed a little more seasoning. Still tasty and, thankfully, the only slightly off note of the night.
Next up, the harissa-roasted carrots:
Oh, MY. Caramelized carrots, redolent of cinnamon and cumin, spiked with zesty harissa, topped with roasted pistachios, festooned with dill, and all nestled on an impossibly creamy bed of lemony garlic hummus. What all other carrot dishes strive to be and fail at miserably. A dish like this is something I’d expect to find in an Ottolenghi cookbook: Simple, quality veggie ingredients, prepared exceedingly well, with an elevated attention to flavor and texture. Someone really knows what they’re doing in this kitchen. Get this. Get two.
Of course, we ordered Detroit-style pizzas, which come four fat slices to a pie. First, the Umamimous (get it?) Decision:
LOOK AT IT. If you don’t need a cigarette after a slice of this, I can’t help you. With shimeji mushrooms, a proprietary cheese blend, and a miso/garlic butter, this slutty little number just oozed ooh-mami.
Next, the classic pepperoni:
Again, a delight for the eyes as well as the mouth. Richly tomatoey, with thick slices of pepperoni, and the requisite beautifully caramelized, crispy, cheesy edges, the epitome of what Detroit-style pizza should be, in my admittedly limited experience. But you kinda just know, you know? A side of Mike’s Hot Honey (a treat you must avail yourself of) went well with both pies.
Both were light as air and utterly satisfying. This is the second such place in our neighborhood, and there was a small debate at our table: Cellarmaker or Joyride? The nod went to Cellarmaker by a hair, for depth of flavor, atmosphere and, of course, beer.
If you’re not in the mood for beer, Cellarmaker offers sangria, red, white, rosé and barleywine. (I finished up with a lusciously jammy, full-bodied Syrah.)
Cellarmaker also serves up bar-style pizzas, an Impossible sausage pie, and has an abbondanza of great-sounding sides to choose from: Meatballs, chips and dip, and a couple of salads. It appears that the food menu changes often, too, always a good sign. It’s fairly obvious that the Cellarmaker crew cares as much about the eats as it does about the low-key, inviting atmosphere and the brews.
In short, this ain’t your father’s pizza-and-beer joint, but a homey tavern of elevated yet familiar food, done well. I’m sorry it took me so long to get here, but grateful to know I can visit a Cellarmaker in Oakland and Berkeley, too, if I ever wander out of the Mission.
3193 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110