I heard about a place that uses chicken parmesan as a pizza topping. Lucky I did, because Sisters Pizza operates in a part of Hillcrest I don’t normally go looking for restaurants. It’s a stretch of Fourth Avenue people go to find private practice lawyers, CPAs, and health practitioners, not pizza by the slice.
3603 Fourth Ave, Hillcrest
And serve by the slice it does, though to describe Sisters that way feels as if I'm underselling it. The place feels like more than a mere pizza counter, and not just because it serves hot sandwiches, salads, and a handful of pasta dishes. Sitting on a corner spot, in a charming, Mission-style building with terra cotta shingles and large front windows, the storefront is framed by a dining patio distinguished by planters and green shades. It’s the sort of place you’d want to hang out, the sort of restaurant you’d want in your neighborhood, within walking distance.
But it’s inside where you’ll discover how much love truly went into this place. Friend and family photos hang in frames throughout the restaurant, and if you look at them closely, you’ll see many of them depict cherished moments in the life of Kate Green, the proprietor’s departed older sister. According to the Sisters web site, “[Kate’s] younger sister, Emily, decided to open a community-focused pizza restaurant in her honor.”
The tribute tugs at the heartstrings, no doubt. Here I see an adorable shot of the two sisters posing together as children. Elsewhere they are teens, then on again into adulthood, their hairstyles changing but never the bond. But the smiling and happy memories depicted in those photos mostly lend a sense familial warmth, a hominess to the small restaurant.
As if on cue, the first members of a birthday party trickle into the place. But now, I’m a little distracted because my $3.50 slice of chicki chickie parm parm has arrived. That’s the pizza topped with strips of breaded chicken and basil. The server delivering to my table brings plastic ramekins of ranch dressing, because a lot of people like to dip this pizza. He also gives me a spicy aioli, because that’s where some prefer to dip the outer crust.
Sisters makes good pies. They call it East Coast style, meaning the large slices on a thin crust. When I order a whole 16-inch pepperoni ($19) through a delivery service, it’s got those small, coin-size sliced of pepperoni, which tend to curl up and char at the edges. It goes over great with my friends.
They make huge, nearly tennis ball-size meatballs, serving them on a sandwich ($13.50), on spaghetti ($16), or just on a plate, sitting in a pool of marinara, topped with melted mozzarella and a dusting of parmesan. To balance the health appeal of my meal, I order the Sisters salad ($12), which tops chopped romaine and tomatoes with avocado, roasted corn, and “blistered edamame.” It’s a simple salad, but pretty; glowing with a balsamic glaze and buttery, sesame encrusted croutons. It’s one of three salads — not forgotten — on the menu.