March 10, 2009

March 10, 2009

I was sorry to receive word yesterday that ~BONG SU RESTAURANT & LOUNGE~ served its final dinner on Saturday evening, March 7th, after three years in business. According to the notice, the two driving factors were proprietors Anne Le Ziblatt and Tammy Huynh’s “belief that the current economic conditions are only going to deteriorate further over the next year, and an on-going dispute with their landlord.” They are going to be focusing on their restaurant Tamarine in Palo Alto. Farewell, shrimp cupcakes. 311 Third St. at Folsom.

Due to open next Monday March 16th is ~PIZZANOSTRA~ from Jocelyn Bulow (of the Chez Papa and Maman family). It’s opening in the former Cafe Couleur space in Potrero Hill, next to Sally’s. The chef is Giovanni Aginolfi, who has been a pizza chef in France for the past four-plus years. I got a peek at the menu, and it includes a variety of nine Neapolitan pizzas ranging from $12–$17, like a capricciosa (tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, and egg—and I hope some ham makes its way on there) and the pied-noir (tomato, mozzarella, Merguez lamb sausage, egg). There will also be some focaccia (more like pizza bianca, really), including a focaccia di Recco, and one with dolce gorgonzola, fingerling potatoes, radicchio, and rosemary. Also slated to appear on the menu: tronchetto (like a calzone) and three dessert pizzas. The pizzeria will be open for lunch and dinner from 11:30am–10pm daily.

Also part of the project is the Osteria, run by chef de cuisine Chad Huck, currently the lead lunch cook at Chez Papa Resto. The pan-Italian menu includes a variety of antipasti for $7–$12 (arancini, burrata, grilled octopus, meatballs, bone marrow), salumi, panini, bruschetta, and pasta dishes for either $9 or $16 (gnocchi, linguine with clams). Hours will be 11:30am–2:30pm and 5:30pm–10pm, with weekend brunch from 10:30am–4pm. There are 35–40 seats outside, sure to be popular as it gets warmer out. 300 De Haro St. at 16th St., 415-558-9493.

I got a few more details on ~OTORO~, the restaurant opening in the former Laurel’s Cuban Restaurant space in Hayes Valley. The menu will offer a combination of izakaya-inspired small plates, noodles (udon, soba, and three kinds of ramen), and sushi. The owners want to appeal to a younger crowd, and are going to try to keep later hours and stay open until 11pm. The chef worked for 15 years in Japanese kitchens, and has most recently been working in Philadelphia. The spot is small, with about 30 seats and an eight-seat bar, where they will serve sake, soju, and, of course, soju cocktails. The opening is targeted toward the end of March—I’ll keep you posted. 205 Oak St. at Gough.

Chowhounds are discussing the new ~KING OF NOODLES~, offering hand-pulled Chinese noodles. According to reports, “the owner is the brother of the owner of Kingdom of Dumplings.” It also seems they serve lunch Fri–Tue, and dinner daily. I gotta check this one out. 1639 Irving St. at 17th Ave., 415-566-8318.

After months of being closed, according to a pending liquor license transfer, ~DEEP SUSHI~ has sold. 1740 Church St. at 29th St.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday March 11th, ~COFFEE BAR~ is hosting another film night, and will be screening one of my all-time faves: Saturday Night Fever! (The soundtrack was my very first cassette tape.) Coffee Bar is bringing in pizza from Arinell Pizza on Valencia, plus offering New York-style cheesecake, popcorn, and $3 beers and bubbles. The screening starts at 7pm, so come early and get your seat, your snacks, and say ayyyyyyyy, Tony! 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa, 415-551-8100.

I get some pretty dangerous mail sometimes—no, nothing with anthrax (thank heavens), but more like carb- and butter-loaded mail. Fortunately, after I take a taste, I have some hungry men in my life who I can call up to take edibles off my hands. Like a few weeks ago, when I got a big box o’ treats from ~EMPORIO RULLI~. There was a colomba pasquale (Easter dove) that had a nice hint of orange, and was totally loaded with butter—I also learned it’s a 72-hour process to make it. (And probably double that to burn it off.) For those of you who celebrate the Festa di San Giuseppe on March 19th, Rulli makes zeppole for one day only: a cream, custard, and amarena cherry-stuffed vanilla sponge cake. Oh dear. If you want some, the zeppole need to be ordered by March 16th ($4.75 each). (Sorry, I already foisted all my leftovers on my fellas.)

More St. Joseph’s-related news: on Saturday March 21st, ~PALIO D’ASTI~ is hosting their 19th annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration, from 5pm–9pm. It’s a family-style dinner It’s a family-style dinner with a Sicilian dessert buffet for $49 per adult (children only pay their age). Executive chef/owner Dan Scherotter will also be offering 50% off all bottles of Barbera and Brunello. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-362-6003.

When you’re done with my burger tour (below), you can check out a Balboa Burger at the PlumpJack Group’s annual ~BURGER FOR A PINT~ community blood drive, which rewards blood donors with a Balboa Burger, compliments of Balboa Cafe. Those who donate blood at the mobile donation center outside the restaurant receive a certificate for a complimentary burger, which can be redeemed within the next year. To make an appointment, interested donors must visit, click on the “Donate Blood” tab and enter sponsor code “Balboa-SF” or “Balboa-MV,” depending on the location at which they’d like to make the donation. San Francisco’s drive is Tuesday March 24th from 2pm–7pm; PlumpJack Balboa Cafe, 3199 Fillmore St., 415-921-3944. Mill Valley’s is Tuesday March 31st from 2pm–7pm; Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, 38 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, 415-381-7321.

Here is your weekly meal deal update:

~JACK FALSTAFF~ has started offered La Cena de Familia, a new four-course prix-fixe family-style menu every night of the week. The menu changes seasonally and includes dishes that are homey and hearty, such as the current menu of Duroc pork tenderloin and smoked ribs. Each course is served in an abundant portion in the center of the table so you can all dig in together. $40 per person, exclusive of tax, tip, and beverages. Parties of three or more must agree to order the menu together. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-836-9239.

~JARDINIÈRE~ is also offering some new Monday night prix-fixe dinners for $45, and the price includes wine pairings. Next Monday March 16th is the Devil’s Gulch Ranch dinner, with a selection of Jardinière charcuterie from Devil's Gulch pork; salad of Devil's Gulch rabbit, local asparagus, wild mushrooms, and whole grain-mustard vinaigrette, with Feudi Della Medusa, Vermentino di Sardegna "Albithia" Italy 2006; Devil's Gulch lamb, white bean, kale ragoût, and salsa verde, with Fontodi Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy 2004; and for dessert, rhubarb crostada, vanilla gastrique, and crème fraîche ice cream with D'Ancona Passito de Pantelleria, Pantelleria, Italy 2004. Check the website for weekly menu updates. 300 Grove St. at Franklin, 415-861-5555.

And now, let’s see what’s free:

Sunday March 15th from 2pm–6pm is the opening reception of ~DELICIOUS~, with food- and drink-related works by 85 artists. There will be cheese provided by Cheese Plus. STUDIO Gallery, 1815 Polk St. at Washington, 415-931-3130.

The San Francisco Public Library and the International Museum of Women are partnering to present Women’s History Month programs featuring local women who are making history and waves in the Bay Area. On Wednesday March 18th is ~CREATING A BUSINESS WITH A MISSION: A DELICIOUS TALK FROM COWGIRL CREAMERY’S SUE CONLEY~. The event starts at 6:30pm. Mission Bay Branch, 960 4th St. at Berry, 415-355-2838.

Next Thursday March 19th, ~JOANNE WEIR~ is doing a book signing of her recent book, Wine Country Cooking, with tastes from Weir’s recipes and wine pairings at McEvoy Ranch Ferry Building shop. Now, this part isn’t free, but if you buy a cookbook, you can take a home a complimentary 375ml bottle of the Traditional Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Space is limited, so please respond to rsvp [at] by March 17th. 6pm-8pm. Ferry Building Marketplace, 415-291-7224.

Due to open this Wednesday is ~BARLATA~, the Oakland project I mentioned a while ago from Daniel Olivella of B44 in Belden Place. This addition to the Temescal neighborhood sports 60 seats (it’s the former Biggum’s Silver Lion space), and one of the longest list of tapas I have seen in some time. There are also assorted pinchos at the bar for $2.50 a pop—they will tally up the toothpicks when you’re done (so no trying to sneak one out in your teeth). It’s an all-Spanish wine list, with a few Sherries, four beers on tap (including Chupacabras pale ale and Affligem blond), and seven bottled beers. Open daily 5pm–11pm. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland, 510-450-0678.

I got word of a home-style Italian place that just opened Friday March 6th, ~TRATTORIA LAURELLINO~, from chef/owner Terrell Santiago. On the menu: antipasti, salads, pastas, seafood, and panini during the day. The beer and wine license is still pending, FYI. They sound like nice folks, and according to the note I received, eager for feedback since they opened relatively quickly. Open Tue–Thu 11:30am–9pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–10pm, Sun 11:30am–8pm. 4171 MacArthur Blvd. at 39th Ave., Oakland, 510-530-3600.

Top Chef fans, I heard Jamie Lauren and Stefan Richter will be working a station together in the Lexus Grand Tasting ($165/person) on Saturday April 18th, and doing a Cooking Demo together, “Top Chefs Behind the Scenes” ($100/person) on Sunday April 19th at ~PEBBLE BEACH FOOD & WINE~. Let’s see how much Stefan continues to hilariously flirt with her.

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