Sometimes things pop up in the most unusual of places, take for instance Vive La Tarte, a bakery run by a Belgian husband and wife that opened several months in SOMA. Howard and 8th Street to be exact. Who knew there were such large warehouse like spaces still affordable in this town that a local, organic, sustainable (and all those other hot foodie words) could afford to be in. Miracles do happen in San Francisco? Of course, being it's a bakery, you just know I was more than interested to make my way over to what can be a sketchy part of SOMA to see if their pastries were worth the journey.
I'm serious when I say the inside of this place is huge, probably why you can rent it out for parties and stuff. It also has the smell of fresh baked stuff wafting through, I'll consider that a plus. Looks like the daily array of square pizzas, croissants, donuts and others changes semi-regularly. Wanting to get as full a sampling as possible, because that's the kind of person I am.
Pizzas are Roman style square things much like focaccia with toppings. Here is the mushroom, cheese and arugula. Cause you know that green stuff will make your brain think you are having something healthy. It's like a white pizza, no sauce on here. It's cheesy, earthy and served warm. The bread is thick and fluffy without being doughy. Because they do the square version I got a middle piece without crust, which I prefer since I'm one of those who tosses it back in the box instead of eating it. For $6.50 it is a pretty hefty slice and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I am just a sucker for fluffy bread and cheese.
Next came the prosciutto and artichoke pizza. While it is on the same tasty bread, this suffered enormously from being over salted, and I don't mean a little, I mean A LOT. Garlic and salt was all the taste I got out of this. It's like maybe someone misread a recipe or something and added a cup when it may have called for a tablespoon. It had me reaching for the water. It also made the SO's mouth pucker up. Between the two flavors we just couldn't finish it. Yowza.
I felt like I was keeping in some East Coast vein as I moved straight from pizza to a sort of New York style cheesecake they were calling S.F. cheesecake. Basically it was baked. For $6 it is a large slice of quite heavenly cheesecake. It's both creamy and fluffy at the same time. It is almost like eating a sweet puffed cheese cloud. Add in the buttery graham cracker crust and it is a real winner. This don't need no stinking cherry topping, it is perfectly tasty all on it's own. It was all I could do to not eat this all by myself. You know, that whole sharing with partners thing.
I couldn't pass up a vanilla bean creme filled donut, even though it was $3.75. It is not the biggest thing and the cost does make me cringe a bit. I mean, I get the whole made by hand, local stuff but still, I think I could have been less reactive at $2.50 or something. Still, as a donut on it's own merits, it was very good. More light, fluffy, deep fried dough filled to brimming with delicious custard creme. More than enough to have some in every bite, and for that, I will definitely give props. No little spot in the middle for this donut. When you pull it open, you get loads of tasty vanilla creme. Definitely worth trying, though based on cost, it'd be hard to be my everyday donut. Still have to hit up Happy Donuts for that.
Beyond garlic and salt town, Vive La Tarte is most assuredly a bakery you knead to get to know. See what I did there? Knead--need? Yeah, well it sounded funny when I typed it. Anyway, if you can find your way over to this part of SOMA (Bart then walk 2 blocks is best) you should really stop by and check out what they have. Pizza flavors may change daily, they also have different quiche things. But if you are a cheesecake fan at all, you must get a slice. Have part of it there and save the rest to savor later. If you have that kind of will power that is.
(Small bonus if you decide to dine in, they have a garage roll-up door that looks out onto Howard street. You can sit at the long table just inside and get more than an eyeful of what I'll call "street theater". Definitely a fascinating microcosm of life in San Francisco.)