Each morning around 10:40 a.m., something special takes place on Yerba Buena Lane. A heavenly scent wafts down the pathway, saturating the gardens with a garlicky aroma. Passerby pause to take in a deeper breath and look around, trying to locate the source. 

It doesn’t take long. As the tantalizing smell of roasting herbs grows stronger, it’s clear that it’s coming from Delarosa. Everything about this Roman-style eatery is inviting, from the irresistible scent to the patio’s warm wood accents, thriving greenery, and bright orange umbrellas. 

At 10:50 a.m., the heady aroma causes people to take seats on the patio although the restaurant isn’t open yet. The wait staff is just visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows, rolling up silverware with a knowing smile. Claiming tables has become a neighborhood ritual, one that fills the staff with pride.  

By 10:58 a.m., the anticipation is palpable. In addition to garlic, there are now whiffs of freshly baked bread, pepper, and the unmistakable smell of sizzling sausage. Every seat outside is taken, and quite a few people are lingering, hoping to snag a seat inside. 

Finally, the clock strikes 11 a.m., the glass doors unlock, and everyone is able to ask the question that has been burning on their lips: what is that marvelous smell? Why, it’s Delarosa’s famous meatballs, smothered in marinara sauce and served with two slices of buttery garlic toast. 

Servers soon begin to carry out the dish with fragrant steam rising off the plate. Made from fifty percent ground veal and fifty percent sweet Italian sausage, the meatballs are so moist and tender, it only requires a dull fork to deftly slice each delicious bite. This dish is just an appetizer, but it can be turned into a full meal by ordering a side of burrata bruschetta drizzled in hazelnut and honey. 

As the first wave of people finish their meals and vacate their chairs, another round of people captivated by the scent fill the seats to taste the dish. Aromatic and delicious, Delarosa is a guilt-free pleasure that begs to be frequented time and time again. It’s just one of many gems to be found in the Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood.