The time has finally come for Farina Pizza & Cucina Italiana, the long-awaited, down-the-block expansion of Farina at 18th and Valencia. The new pizzeria marks a departure for Farina, which in its five years on 18th Street has focused primarily on Ligurian specialties like Genovese pesto pasta and focaccia. Executive chef Paolo Laboa is overseeing a new menu of Neapolitan-style pizzas as well as farinata which is more of a Ligurian specialty, and is basically a topping-free, chickpea-based flatbread that is pizza-like, and often features rosemary. (The farinata isn't on the opening menu, but will be featured soon.) The pizzeria's been two years in the making, and it's a sleek, modern space, with limited seating inside, and ample sidewalk seating that's still on the way, pending a permit.
While Laboa is taking the lead with the menu, father-and-son pizzaioli Antonio and Gennaro Langella are the manning the pizza ovens. They'll also be doing morning pastry, and offering lunch as well, and the wine list will be, obviously, Italian-focused.
We took some photos last night during a soft-opening dinner*, and you can check out the interior, as well as some pizza pictures. Update: The restaurant is softly open this week for dinner only, and with Monday's official grand opening, lunch service will begin as well. Details about the design include the whimsical mural on the ceiling, which features a series of comic-book portraits based on Diabolik comics from Italy during the fifties. The intention by designer Brett Terpulek was to have people in the neighborhood see faces that looked like their own and see their own faces in the mirrored tiles reflected back at them. Custom tables, doors, and the ceiling mural were done by Kyle Minor design, and all the black acacia wood used in the woodwork was sourced within 50 miles of the restaurant. As a rep tells us, it took eight craftsmen to complete the work over a two-year span which may explain why the opening was so long delayed?
The first challenge will be, of course, to overcome the value hurdle that many people already associate with the Farina name. Will these pizza stand up to Pizzeria Delfina, Mozzeria, Del Popolo, Zero Zero and Una Pizza Napolitana and be worth the price? We shall see.
Farina Pizzeria & Cucina Italiana - 700 Valencia Street at 18th - Opening Monday, August 20
* This post has been corrected to show that the dinner photographed was not an employee-only event.BEGIN SLIDESHOW