Downtown, on a sidewalk, it was Thursday lunch and I wanted to explore a new place on a cool, almost seasonally appropriate day. This is my favorite type of day in Mobile. You know the one, where you have to decide whether or not to wear a jacket. It’s the one with the slightly overcast skies and the slightly under-cast shadows that follow you as you snake between the tallish buildings, trying not to ignore the Christmas decorations.
It wasn’t even noon yet and the perfect parking spot opened up on a side street with a flashing meter. “Nothing a couple of quarters couldn’t fix,” I said aloud to my friend Douglas, riding shotgun. We were in the mood for a hot meal and discussion. It seems we needed to get to the bottom of what was becoming of our downtown scene, especially the area around Bienville Square, which seems as vibrant these days as we have ever witnessed it.
What better place to try than Dauphin Street’s Pizzeria Delfina? Downtown has needed another good pizza and Italian spot for some time now. The much-anticipated restaurant opened this past October after many renovations to a building that was a fully operational restaurant weeks before the first pie was sold. Just across the street from Panini Pete’s near the southeast corner of the aforementioned square, this pizzeria is one of many new businesses gussying up that end of Dauphin.
Douglas and I entered the building for an early lunch, noticing very few tables were open. There were a couple of two-tops available and maybe a spot for bar seating. By bar seating I should probably say lunch counter. No alcohol is being served on the premises while they’re applying for their liquor license, so for the time being one may bring his or her personal bottle of wine. Good thing there is a wine bar just on the other side of the square. Firehouse would be happy to accommodate your vino needs.
But as I mentioned, this was lunch. More of a business lunch, so Douglas and I had no need to be drinking before noon. We were there for the food only. For this reason we got right to it with a couple of house salads ($5 each). Great minds think alike, so they say, and we both wanted bleu cheese to top our greens, tomatoes, onions, feta and olives. It was a knockout. This simple salad is ridiculously good because of the homemade dressing. I cannot say enough good things about it. Our waitress told us the dressings are all made in-house and every one of them is good.
With clean plates from our first course, Douglas and I parted ways as far as the menu goes. I don’t personally eat a lot of pizza, but my dining companion enjoys his fair share. Delfina’s come in small, medium and large and not the numbers on the page in inches as we originally thought. Douglas asked for a 16-inch Le Cadillac ($16), when we were told the numbers have nothing to do with size. Whatever the case, it looked to be 16 inches when it arrived. Maybe we were smarter than we thought.
This is a fairly busy pizza with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, ham, olives, red pepper, beef and garlic. If you describe the crust of this pie, you would have to say it is of medium thickness. It’s no thin-crust New Yorker nor is it a Chicago-style pizza. It’s really right down the middle of the two. In that sense it isn’t too doughy and it isn’t floppy thin. If there were any constructive criticism to offer it would be that it wasn’t very salty, per Douglas, but I think this is a pizza Mobile is really going to embrace.
With all of the sandwiches, calzones and stromboli looking tempting, I still had to return to the pasta section. Fruitti di mare ($12 per small) caught my eye as one of the more expensive things on that side of the menu. The pomodoro (tomato) sauce was so divine with the shrimp, mussels and clams that I almost didn’t need the seafood. It is worth noting that the shrimp in this dish were cooked perfectly and could not have been better. What’s more, the portions for this dish are huge. I wanted to finish the whole thing, but there was simply too much. You can bet your bottom dollar I ate every shrimp I could find.
There is plenty to get excited about at Pizzeria Delfina. Your options are pretty much pasta, pizza or po’boy, but the amazing number of pasta dishes alone take up a sizable chunk of the menu. You can’t get good carbonara or vodka sauce in most places around here; this place has both and then some. The 10 listed pizzas are pretty classic but think of the combinations you could have with the extra toppings, such as spinach, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, bacon and anchovy, along with the usual stuff. I was stoked to see green olives on the menu, as my favorite childhood pizza was Italian sausage and green olives.
This place is still new to the scene and is likely to get even better before it gets worse. Visit soon before it becomes too hot of a place. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Pizzeria Delfina is a must-try for everyone.
For us it was just another stroll through an increasingly thriving downtown.
107 Dauphin St.