March 18, 2008

March 18, 2008

~MYTH CAFÉ~ closed last week, which means we just need to continue watching Top Chef 4 on Wednesdays for Ryan Scott sightings. And ~MYTH~ the restaurant will sadly be winding to a close on Saturday, March 29th. Nathan Foot, who assumed the executive chef duties after chef Sean O’Brien’s departure, is going to head home to Boston for a while—no telling if he’s going to start something new out there, or return to SF to add to his 13-plus years here. Also heard pastry chef Nick Flores left Myth on the 15th—at press time I still hadn’t received word on where he’s at now, so stand by.

Last Thursday, ~FRISSON’S~ executive chef, Sarah Schafer, resigned and is now at Anchor and Hope, the upcoming project from the Town Hall/Salt House crew. Frisson actually closed this Saturday, a bit earlier than expected. Since the permits for the remodel are ready, Joe Hargrave and Andrew McCormack are moving ahead on the renovation. The clubby vibe will be no more (say goodbye to the DJ booth), and it will be more walk-in diner friendly. And my supposition was correct: it’s official that Sean O’Brien, the former executive chef of Myth, will be the executive chef of this new project. Too soon to tell about timing, but for now, it’s looking like late spring or summer. As for the concept, it’s also early on that too—but of course O’Brien’s style will be highlighted, and perhaps a few of his signature dishes will come with. There will also be a big wine program, with many available by the glass. Look for more info in coming weeks. 244 Jackson St. at Front.

So, back to ~ANCHOR AND HOPE~. This third project from the Rosenthals and Doug Washington is moving right along, in fact, it might even be open in three or four weeks. Perhaps some fish and chips are what we’ll need on April 15 to feel better. Anyway. Sarah Schafer (a Boston native) will be running the kitchen at this upscale East Coast seafood shack/fish house, serving some classics like oysters and other shellfish, and of course a lobster roll (Mitchell Rosenthal was in Maine for a month tasting around, so you know this lobster roll is gonna rock); there will be some non-traditional dishes too, perhaps some eel, or uni. The space is like a big barn, but in a cool alley, with wood floors, and rustic tables from Jeffrey Ruiz, a talented artisan furniture maker and craftsman from Berkeley. There will be seats for 60–80, a communal table, and counter seating as well. Lunch and dinner will be served daily. 83 Minna St. at First.

My paisano pal, Francesco D’Ippolito, just opened his new restaurant in the Castro, ~POESIA~. This upstairs little nook has rustic and affordable Italian dishes, with many that are Calabresi in origin (lots of family recipes are featured). Items on the menu range from the ever-popular arancini (fried balls of arborio rice and smoked mozzarella, $6) to burrata ($9.50), and pastas like pasta al forno with meatballs and soppressata (a Gagliardi family classic—I’ll have to see how this compares!), and fusilli al ragu di maiale (pork rib ragu), both $12. Mains (which will rotate often) include chicken, a New York steak with a wine reduction made from Ciro, a hearty Calabrese red, and baccalà with pancetta and potato, all $17–$22. Don’t forget there’s a full bar too. Dinner will be served nightly from 5:30pm–11pm, and even later on Fri–Sat, with weekend brunch starting in a couple weeks. 4072 18th St. at Castro, 415-252-9325.

While the Castro gets some Southern Italian amore, a couple Northern Italian projects are percolating in the Mission. First, Last Supper Club is transforming into ~BERETTA~, a late-night pizzeria (13 kinds!) and restaurant with a menu of over 22 antipasti, like a variety of bruschette, salumi, salads, and vegetable dishes, plus four risottos, made with local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients when possible. Owner Ruggero Gadaldi (Pesce, Antica Trattoria) is bringing on Thad Vogler to do the bar program, Jeff Meisel to do the wine list, Craig Berold is the GM (formerly of bacar), and Deborah Blum is overseeing operations—she is also a partner in the project, along with Adriano Paganini (of Pasta Pomodoro, now just Pomodoro). The downstairs will have multiple communal tables, with seating for 35, and 70 upstairs. The rustic look will feature chandeliers, concrete floors, and hand-painted murals—sounds different. The pizza oven is a gas wood stone pizza oven—it can get to a high temperature, but is ultimately cleaner for the air. Beretta is slated to open next Friday, March 28th. Open daily 5:30pm–12am. 1199 Valencia St. at 22nd, 415-695-1199.

Next up, ~SPECCHIO~ will be opening in May in the former Blue Room Gallery space, just next to Cha Cha Cha. The owner, Gino Assaf, is also behind North Beach’s Ristorante Gondola—he was born in Jordan, but grew up in Venice. He plans to open the 150-seat restaurant (which includes a mezzanine), for lunch and dinner daily, with later hours on the weekend. Look for modern Italian dishes hailing from the north. We were reminiscing over some Venetian favorites (I lived there for a year, 16 long years ago) so let’s see what ends up on the menu. He was considering pappardelle with wild boar ragu, plus homemade ravioli, risotto al nero di seppia (a delicious seafood risotto with squid ink), roasted rabbit and polenta, and I put a vote in for risi e bisi. 2331 Mission St. at 20th.

Here’s more on the project I mentioned a couple weeks ago: ~JACKIE'S VINOTECA & CAFÉ~, a 22-seat cafe in the former Zen City Records space, opened on Sunday. It is providing North Mission neighbors a place for smoothies, organic coffee and foods, like a variety of sandwiches and salads. The vinoteca part of the name will kick in when they get their beer and wine license next week—they’ll be serving Italian, Argentinean, Chilean, and California wines. In case you’re looking for Jackie, there isn’t one—the name is a loose amalgam of the two owners, Jasmine and Patrick. Open 7am–8pm daily. 105 Valencia St. at McCoppin, 415-864-5225.

More openings around town: the moving target that is ~CHEZ PAPA RESTO’S~ opening has now been set for Tuesday, March 25, when it will open for dinner. According to the site, it will open for lunch April 1. No joke. 414 Jessie St. at 5th, 415-546-4134.

~DOMO~ in Hayes Valley is also slated to open on the 25th, one week later than recently planned. 511 Laguna St. at Hayes, 415-861-8887.

Oh, and ~CANDYBAR~ hit some snags, and is now planning its opening for this coming weekend—stand by. 1335 Fulton St. Ste 101 at Divisadero, 415-673-7078.

~MOOSE’S~ in North Beach recently underwent a big remodel, but now it’s becoming something else entirely. Joseph Manzare (Globe, Tres Agaves, Pescheria, Zuppa) and his biz partner Eddie Maiello have bought the North Beach landmark, and are transforming it into their dream East Coast-style Italian restaurant, ~JOEY & EDDIE’S~. They’ve had the concept brewing for a while—it was originally going to open in Dogpatch, then it didn’t work out so there was another potential location, but now it looks like they are finally going to call North Beach home. Seems native New Yorkers Joseph and Eddie got tired of pining for their favorites at Carmine’s and Dominick’s back east, so look for old school classics like pastas with red or white sauce, stuffed artichokes, shrimp scampi, spaghetti and meatballs, and veal saltimbocca. In fact, a group of folks in the project are heading to Dominick’s and Carmine’s in April on a research trip—I’m imagining a culinary Rat Pack. Since Manzare recently won the Boss of the Sauce competition, you can bet the pastas will be a hit. The goal is low prices, but more food—and to create a place where you can eat with your family but not go broke doing it. While the actual launch of the new name and concept won’t happen until the end of April or beginning of May, Manzare is ramping up and will be executing the menu; Travis Flood, the executive chef of Moose’s, is having his last night of service tonight—he’s then heading to Chicago to work with Laurent Gras for a while on his new project, L.20. There will definitely be a big party to honor the Mooses and salute the closing of the restaurant in a proper fashion. Look for dinner and brunch to start; no mention of lunch at the moment. 1652 Stockton St. at Union, 415-989-7800.

Some chef shuffling in the Haight: ~THE ALEMBIC~ has a new pair of co-executive chefs, Jordan Grosser (currently chef de cuisine of Postrio) and Ted Fleury (of the former Winterland). Grosser is scaling back from his time at Postrio, and should be fully engaged with the Alembic kitchen at some point in April. Look for some small plates with clear flavors and an experimental and playful approach—new tryouts are rotating on the blackboard, but a few that have made it to the menu include a seasonal salad of Dungeness crab with blood orange, and a miso-glazed black cod with breakfast radish and chili oil (both $10). Owner Dave McLean says the food is rockin’, even though it’s still in development. Jenna Hodges, another former Winterland alum who has been working with Boris Portnoy at Campton Place, will be doing pastry and savory at both Alembic and Magnolia. 1725 Haight St. at Cole, 415-666-0822.

~MAGNOLIA~ also has a new chef, Brandon Jew, who was most recently at Pizzetta 211 for the last six months. Known as Pizzetta 211's Monday night special and sausage guy, his background also includes Zuni and Quince. He will be integrating more charcuterie and offal on the menu, and is beginning at Magnolia in the next week or so. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-PINT.

I know this time of year is tough (a few lucky ducks get tax returns, but many suffer the woes of paying Uncle Sam, “no uncle of mine,” as someone I know used to say). But ya gotta eat! So I say save yourself some dough when dining out with ~COZMOCARDS~! (With a CozmoCard, spend $50, and you get $15 off your bill.) I’ve been using my 2008 deck, with restaurants like Café Claude, Foreign Cinema, and Metro Kathmandu in there—52 restaurants in all. The tablehopper discount continues: readers get 10% off the $30 price—just type "tablehopper" into the order form for the discount! Presto!

I got a tip from a reader that ~CAFÉ AKELARRE~, the corner cafe that recently took over Café Acoustic along Octavia Boulevard, serves awesome arepas, Colombian coffee, and has fun live music nights. The free Wi-Fi also continues. 210 Octavia St. at Page, 415-861-4599.

In case you’re wondering where to find ~SCOTT HOWARD~, he has been hired as Chef Exécutif at Left Bank Brasserie in Larkspur, working with chef/owner Roland Passot and Directeur des Cuisines, Chef Joel Guillon.

And in the “closed but not closed closed” department, ~JEANNE D'ARC~ in the Cornell Hotel will be closed from now until April 8 for their annual three-week vacation. 715 Bush St. at Powell, 415-421-3154.

And ~THAILAND RESTAURANT~ on Castro is closed until March 22, it seems for some vacation as well. 438A Castro St. at 18th, 415-863-6868.

Chocoholics, you now have one more destination to add to your list: ~SCHOGGI–IMPORTED SWISS CHOCOLATES~ officially opens its doors on Yerba Buena Lane on Thursday, March 27th. Think luxury. And Swiss chocolates, handmade by a small producer in Bern from 100-year-old recipes, made with Swiss milk. Here’s more from the press release: “It will be the first true Swiss confiserie in San Francisco, with more than 60 varieties of chocolate pralines and truffles, as well as typical Swiss petite pastries, Luxemburgerli (French macarons), pate de fruits, and European-style coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Schoggi’s collection includes traditional milk and dark chocolates, as well as chocolates sporting more exotic flavors such as green tea, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Some highlights are the popular Signature Caramel, liquid caramel in a chocolate cup; the Mandarin, a praline containing a pearl of crystallized sugar and mandarin liqueur; and the Classic Swiss Truffles, which are more buttery and rich than contemporary truffles.” It takes its name from the Swiss-German nickname for chocolate. It will be open daily 10am–6pm. 87 Yerba Buena Lane at Mission, 415-243-4444.

I was in the Mission this weekend and saw the cute colorful benches and tables of ~LOLO~ out on the sidewalk—they have started serving brunch! And they’re handily on the sunny side of the street. Some brunchy menu items include pulled oxtail with Cuaresmeño chile, scrambled eggs, and scallions in a tortilla ($6); two eggs baked with chive cream, sautéed chard and kale, with roasted fennel and Maui onions ($7); two eggs baked with Spanish chorizo, sliced potatoes, Maui onions and cheddar ($8), plus some other dishes, like salads, all around $9. Oh yes, and the famed shrimp tacos in jicama. An easy place to rise and shine. Brunch Sat–Sun 11am–3pm. 3234 22nd St. at Bartlett, 415-643-5656.

Another change in brunch headquarters: ~ROSE’S CAFÉ~ in Cow Hollow has hired a new chef de cuisine, Steven Lucas, who will start on March 28th. Most recently he was at Chef's Best Inc. in San Francisco and Whole Foods in Berkeley. Looks like he also held positions at Enoteca Mastro Restaurant in Albany, Ristorante Ecco in SF, Cafe Karina and K2 Cafe in Santa Cruz, and Phoenix Pastificio in Berkeley. 2298 Union St. at Steiner, 415-775-2200.

Since we’re on brunch, I have some last-minute additions to the ~EASTER BRUNCH~ scene, on Sunday March 23rd, and beyond:

~BARAKA~ is hosting Sunday Easter brunch from 10am–2pm, with a la carte brunch items, like house-cured salmon gravlax, wild mushroom omelet, beef cheek hash with poached eggs, French toast, lobster and scrambled eggs, and lamb. 288 Connecticut St. at 18th, 415-255-0370.

~1300 ON FILLMORE~ is starting Sunday brunch service on Easter, 10:30am–2:30pm every Sunday. Dishes reflect chef David Lawrence’s southern-influenced palate, and include Marty’s Hang Town Fry, an omelet with fried oysters and bacon; eggs any style, served with ham-hock hash or with creamy grits; and a cinnamon brioche French toast, among other items. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

~LUCE~ at the InterContinental is offering a prix-fixe lunch (11am–2:30pm) and dinner (starts at 5pm) with traditional dishes like baby spring lamb with flageolet and spicy jus and white asparagus bisque. Lunch is $45/person and dinner is $65. 888 Howard St. at 5th, 415-616-6566.

For those of you curious about what’s cookin’ at ~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ since reading my review last week, I wanted to let you know they are hosting a tasting menu to benefit the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. Since the beginning of the month, a flight of wines made by female winemakers has been available with ten percent of the proceeds going to the BCEF. On Wednesday, March 19th, executive chef Michael Lamina is creating a ‘Spring is Almost Here’ five-course tasting menu that will also benefit the BCEF. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

For those who like to mix lit with libations, ~CAFE ZOETROPE~ is celebrating the special spring edition of All-Story (Francis Coppola's award-winning art and literary magazine) with complimentary wine tasting and appetizers on Tuesday, March 25th, from 6pm–8pm. No reservations are required and admission is free. 916 Kearny St. at Columbus, 415-291-1700.

Couldn’t make it to Pigs and Pinot in Healdsburg last week? The molto carino ristorante ~LA CICCIA~ is hosting a piggy dinner party of their own on Monday, March 24th. The menu includes La Ciccia's salumi served with homemade pickled vegetables, Sardinian semolina gnochetti served with pork meat ragout, roasted suckling pig served with Sardinian-style raw vegetables, and ricotta cake served with Sardinian honey. Plus wonderful wines, natch. $70 per person, plus tax and tip. Please call early for reservation. Dinner starts at 7pm. 291 30th St. at Church, 415-550-8114.

If sweets are more your thing, ~MASA’S~ is hosting an event next Monday, March 24th as well: 25 Years of Desserts, benefiting Project Open Hand. Former executive pastry chef Keith Jeanminette, who was a part of the Masa's history for nearly 20 of those years, will be returning to share some of his famous recipes and stories from his time at Masa's. The event will feature desserts and mignardise selections, as well as wine pairings selected by Master Sommelier Alan Murray. 5:30pm–8pm. Suggested donation of $25. RSVP and information: 415-989-7154. 648 Bush St. at Stockton.

Mark your calendar for the launch party to celebrate issue three of ~MEATPAPER~ on Sunday, March 30th! The event will be at Serpentine in Dogpatch, and there will be bevvies from Gosling’s Rum, International Vineyards, and Trumer Brauerei, plus meaty and non-meaty snacks from Serpentine, Perbacco, Leif Hedendal vegetarian cuisine, and Prather Ranch, among others. The cost is $10–$15 (sliding scale). 6pm–9pm. Serpentine, 2495 Third St. at 22nd, 415-252-2000.

And in the East Bay, ~MONO RESTAURANT~ opened for lunch last week (its soft opening) in the Jack London Square area of Oakland, and will be opening for dinner on Wednesday, April 2nd. This industrial but stylish space has a horseshoe-shaped bar, cement pillars, and a custom fabricated wall treatment composed of honeycomb shapes, backlit with LED lighting; there is also a patio area. The lunch menu includes house-made soups, sandwiches, salads, and box-lunch specials available for eat-in or take away via a sidewalk take-out window. Dinner service will feature a globally inspired and seasonally changing small plates menu sourced from local purveyors. There will be charcuterie, a raw oyster bar, cheeses, crudos, plus dishes like mussels and clams with chorizo, Meyer lemon risotto, and pan-seared Kurobuta pork loin. The wine list will focus on boutique producers and sparkling wines, with a hefty number of half bottles. In case you were wondering about the name, Mono means monkey in Spanish, and is executive chef/co-owner (and husband) Todd Wilson’s nickname for his wife, general manager/co-owner, Eloisa Castillo. Wilson was the former chef de cuisine at Asia SF and The Public, and Eloisa Castillo worked at Myth and Cortez. Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm; dinner (soon) on Wed, Thurs, Sun from 5:30pm– 9:30pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–10:30pm. Brunch and breakfast to come. 247 4th St. at Alice, Oakland, 510-834-0260.