February 5, 2013

February 5, 2013
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Gianpaolo Paterlini. Photo: Daniel Morris.

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The exterior of the former Parrilla space. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The spacious interior has been completely gutted. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After pestering co-owner Giancarlo Paterlini of ~ACQUERELLO~ for weeks about some gossip I heard about a second project in the works, I can finally release the details. The Acquerello team (co-owners Giancarlo Paterlini and Suzette Gresham, and wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini, Giancarlo’s son) are opening ~1760~, a more casual concept in the former Parrilla Bar and Grill space on Polk Street. In a way, it’s very similar to what Quince did opening Cotogna—1760 will be the place you can swing by for a midweek dinner, while Acquerello is designated more for special occasions.

The team has hired executive chef Adam Tortosa from Los Angeles—his background includes an apprentice position under master sushi chef Katsu-ya Uechi (Tortosa spent four years under the guidance of Katsu-ya, and was eventually the chef Katsu-ya’s signature restaurant, Kiwami). Most recently, he was working for chef Michael Voltaggio at Ink. So, yes, at 1760 you can expect some stunningly sourced seafood, but the concept is Italian-inspired California cuisine. Tortosa just returned from a research trip throughout Italy with Gianpaolo, visiting Piemonte, Liguria, coastal Tuscany, Campania, Abruzzo, Le Marche, and time in Roma, Modena, and Milano. Si, they did some quality eating, from three stars to trattorie, and now he’s recipe testing and learning in the Acquerello kitchen as construction gets under way.

Acquerello has been open for 23 years, with legions of committed regulars (and big fans, which I definitely am), so it will be exciting to see where son Gianpaolo takes this next iteration of the family business. Considering he practically grew up in the restaurant, while the tablecloths may disappear, his service standards will assuredly remain high. Gianpaolo’s wine list is going to be notable, with 250 labels (both European and domestic—not just Italian), and there will also be a full bar (stand by for details soon on who will be running the bar).

It’s a huge corner space, which they have completely gutted (they will be adding some windows on the Washington Street side). John Wheatman—who was behind the design refresh for Acquerello in 2010—will be designing the new space, which will have 60 seats plus bar seating; there will be a communal table, and the room will be decorated in earth tones. They are currently targeting a late April opening. Can’t. Wait.

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The counter and open kitchen. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The mohair banquette, plus animal portraits. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Seating under the mirrored walls. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

Last night was the pre-opening party for ~FABLE~ in the Castro. The restaurant should be soft opening for business at the end of the week (TBD), and will be officially open next Tuesday. The design by Craige Walters is whimsical and colorful, bringing the “fable” theme to life. When you first walk in, there’s an open kitchen with counter seating, a backsplash of colorful mosaic tiles, and wood and persimmon tall chairs (with backs on them, how comfortable).

Extend past the kitchen and there’s a seating area with slipcover chairs and a mohair banquette in gray, with orange antler lights above. Above are some quirky animal portraits by Ryan Berkley (wait until you see the squirrels in the restroom). FYI, larger parties of six will be able to reserve this seating area. The walls in the back seating area feature some large-format decals of characters from Aesop’s Fables on top of the mirrored surfaces and a custom one was made for the wall (there’s also some wallpaper that looks like reclaimed wood, I chuckled). Overall, it has a nice neighborhood vibe with just enough style and clever touches. There are 32 seats in all.

The back garden area is still in development—it will eventually have a garden, a lounge area, and seating for about 25-30 people. There will be a semi-enclosed patio, a dedicated back bar, and will be open for tapas and bubbles in the afternoon, hopefully by the summer.

Here’s the first look at chef-owner Jon Hearnsberger’s New American menu, which features a variety of salads (including baby beets and goat cheese in parchment), and entrées like pot roast, shepherd’s pie, and duck breast (in a wallet-friendly move, none of the main dishes cost more than $20).

On tap are four beers (including Speakeasy Prohibition and Lagunitas), and Pamela Busch (Skrewcap) put together the small but diverse wine list that spans both domestic and international wines by the glass. There are some more esoteric selections, but each wine is well balanced and has its own personality. The goal is to bring in the best tasting wines at reasonable prices.

For now, hours will be nightly 5pm-10pm, and happy hour (3pm-5pm) and brunch (served Fri-Sun) will be coming soon. 558 Castro St. at 19th St., 415-590-2404.

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The dining room at Masa’s; photo from Facebook.

I was very sorry to read in the Scoop that after 30 years in business, ~MASA’S~ will be closing on Saturday February 16th. Chef Gregory Short, who has been at the restaurant since October 2004, is taking a corporate job at Aramark in order to spend more time with his family. Reportedly the Executive Hotel Vintage Court will be reopening a more casual restaurant in the next three to four months.

I’ve had some spectacular meals there from chef Short, Ron Siegel, and Richard Reddington—and the wonderful wine pairings by Alan Murray (and his engaging demeanor) have always left a strong impression. That dining room had such a special atmosphere, which started with Masataka Kobayashi in 1983, and managed to go on in spite of his tragic (unsolved) murder soon after the restaurant opened. The untimely death of the oh-so-talented pastry chef Maggie Leung last year was also so tragic. With so many chefs so hot on the tasting menu path on our local turf, I’m sorry to see that dining room end its run as a fine-dining destination—I can’t help but think they should have found another great chef to carry the torch and create a draw for that room. Thanks for all the memories, Masa’s, and best of luck to chef Short.

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The main dining room. Photo by Nader Khouri.

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Mmmmm, brisket. Photo by Nader Khouri.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out the brand-new ~HI LO~ (from Maverick/Hog & Rocks founder Scott Youkilis and partners Dave Esler and Eric Rubin) at a test dinner. After you take a look at this pic of the previous space, a Filipino-American Hall, you too will tip your cap to Abueg Morris Architects (Comal, Nopalito), who did a great job with the multi-level space, which has 80-90 seats. They exposed the roof’s wood framing, highlighting the 1900s-era building’s cathedral-like shape (the original distressed wood floor remains). The main floor features three white oak communal tables and a few smaller tables, along with eye-catching charred cedar plank siding (you can also see it on the exterior of the building); there’s a mezzanine with more two- and four-top tables above.

Place your order at the counter in the back, and your vittles (and refreshing, barbecue-friendly cocktails by Scott Beattie and Michael Lazar, like the Savory Seasonal Collins with pickling liquid) will be brought to your table. There are some well-chosen beers you’ll be able to enjoy by the glass or pitcher, eight taps in all (plus a white and red wine on tap). If you just want some bourbon, you can have that too.

Some highlights on chef Ryan Ostler’s menu include a kale and sweet potato salad with ricotta salata ($10), and wait until you taste the juicy half chicken with charmoula ($13) that comes off the custom 7,000-pound J&R Manufacturing smoker from Mesquite, Texas, that lurks downstairs (here’s our previous peek at it). There are also St. Louis-cut spare ribs, beef brisket ($22, sold by the pound), whole grilled trout, and more. Don’t miss sides of creamy barbecue baked beans with burnt ends, and collard greens with house-smoked bacon (both $6). The banana whoopie pie ($3) by Kat Zacher is a perfectly sized finale after all that ‘cue. Open daily 11:30am-10pm.

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The dining room and bar area. Photo: © 2013 Brandon Vaccaro (via Facebook).

Opening in the former La Barca space (which had a 50-year run) in the Marina is ~STOCK IN TRADE~, which is potentially set to pass inspections this week. After a week or so of staff training and soft openings, the actual opening will happen. For now, here are some hot-off-the-presses images of the massive redesign by designer-architect Gi Paoletti (Maven, Tipsy Pig, and the upcoming Noir), which includes an indoor bocce ball court, skylights, a spacious bar (with big-screen TVs), lots of group-friendly seating, and more (although the terra-cotta tiled floor remains). Stand by for details on the tavern-style menu from chef Jake Kwan-Rosenbush, hours, and more in the coming week. 2036 Lombard St. at Fillmore.

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The front bar and its domed ceiling. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The communal table at Noir, with cinematic lighting. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The back bar, with a classic film noir scene above it. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

As previously reported on tablehopper, Hayes Valley is getting a new spot, and it’s coming soon. ~NOIR~ (site under construction), from owner Brian Cassanego, should be opening by the end of February if all goes smoothly. The restaurant, which is in the former Frjtz space, has been redesigned by Gi Paoletti Design Lab and built by Sean Wells to resemble a Jazz Age/film noir hideaway, complete with sexy wallpaper and red leather sofas.

The L-shaped space has been designed to function as three different areas, all of which can accommodate private parties of varying sizes. In the very back is a film screening room, where they plan to screen old films and sporting events, as well as host events. The back bar area, which can be curtained off from the rest of the dining room, boasts a bar with a classic film noir scene illuminated behind it, and it can also be reserved for groups. The main dining room has a communal table that seats about 14, with a cool lighting system of shutters in the ceiling that throw long, noirish shadows across the table. In the center of the main room is a large bar of illuminated gold onyx, under a domed ceiling made from a satellite dish. There will be tall, red leather seating throughout the front dining area, with some tucked-away booths for twosomes in the front windows.

The dinner menu, which was created with assistance from Adam Hinojosa of Per Diem, is designed with sharing in mind. There are snacks like frites, which are available “casual” (with lemon aioli), “dressed up” (with béarnaise and an egg), and “black tie” (with short rib gravy and smoked cheese curds), plus several salad options, a chicken liver pâté, and popcorn. In the entrée department you’ll find chicken and waffles, pork stew, and mac and cheese. There will also be weekend brunch with French toast, egg dishes, and crêpes. Sommelier Gianna Gaudini helped with the wine list, which has 50-60 bottles, 20 by the glass, plus four wine options on tap. There will also be nine beers on tap, though the final list of options is still in progress.

For now, they’re tentatively planning to do Mon-Fri happy hour 3pm-6pm, with the kitchen open Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 5pm-12am, and Sun 5pm-9pm. Stand by for news on the opening date and brunch hours. 581 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-431-6647.

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Pork and beans (and chicharrones!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week I was invited by Josh Birch—a partner in Club Deluxe and Orbit Room Cafe with owner Jay Johnson—to check out the new menu for ~CLUB DELUXE~. (Birch is responsible for all the delicious changes that happened in the kitchen at Orbit Room Cafe.) While some folks are mourning the departure of Giovanni’s Pizza (whose name, I found out, is actually Andrew), after a few bites of greens grown by new chef Thomas Martinez (previously Mission Beach Cafe, Wise Sons Deli), here’s hoping the neighborhood realizes how good things have become.

The Cali-style menu has simple snacky items, like the bar mix ($5/$8) with honey cashews, spiced almonds, chili and chocolate bacon, papadum, and dates. But if you want to fall in love with vegetables all over again, go for the marinated beets with verbena and beet crisps ($10); the crazy-fresh foraged and seasonal greens ($12) with olives, red onion, local feta, and croutons; the flavorful cauliflower ($8) with spiced almond, black garlic purée, and micro shiso; or Josh’s Caesar ($10) with blood orange and pistachio. The seasonal ingredients are all blatantly top notch and so fresh. Foraged mushrooms on some polenta? Check. Harmonious flavors and creativity? In the house.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one meal, there’s the dry-aged steak sandwich ($14) that’s a take on a French dip with au jus on a roll from Marla’s Bakery; a house sausage ($12); and the hearty pork shoulder and beans ($14) with Brussels sprouts and mustard vin. Again, everything is well sourced and local. Sure, there were a few dishes that weren’t perfect, but it was overall very impressive, especially for bar food.

The pizzas have also gone through some changes, with four currently offered: the pesto ($17) with spinach, local feta, broccoli, pine nuts; a winter pizza ($20) with squash, kale, local crescenza, and prosciutto; a margherita ($18); and the Deluxe ($21) with white sauce, pancetta, foraged mushrooms, roasted shallot, and garden herbs.

They completely gutted the kitchen and added new equipment, and there’s also going to be a private chef’s table in the kitchen that will be great for groups. Come by for some jazz, some comedy, some hyper-local Cali cuisine, and a few cocktails and you’re gonna be set. The new menu launches tomorrow (Wednesday February 6th). Kitchen open Tue-Sun 6pm-10pm for now, with expanding hours to come. 1511 Haight St. at Ashbury, 415-552-6948.

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Potato knishes. Photo by Jake Malmberg.

Some random bits of news for you: first, you ready for the big reveal on where ~SHORTY GOLDSTEIN’S~ will be opening? (It’s the fab new Jewish deli I mentioned back in November that Michael Siegel—formerly of Betelnut—is opening in the FiDi.) It’s at 126 Sutter Street, just next to the Crocker Galleria. They are going through inspections soon, and hope to open in two or three weeks. A nice feature that was revealed during construction: the 1907 building had some lovely brick walls hiding under all the mirrors (it was a dingy salad bar and deli for years). More soon on when you will be eating pastrami and knishes. 126 Sutter St. at Montgomery.

~SCALA’S BISTRO~ is launching a new late-night menu, serving a $9 menu in the bar after 9pm Mon-Fri. The menu includes cocktails (hello, Negroni), wine by the carafe, the popular fritto misto, a half dozen oysters, and a selection of signature pizzas, like the funghi with toma, king trumpet mushrooms, balsamic-roasted radicchio, and caramelized onions.

Big news in our third-wave coffee land: ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ owners (Jeremy Tooker, Jodi Geren, and Tal Mor) have purchased local roaster De La Paz. Eater mentions they will be building out a new café in the roastery location on Mission Street—just next to AQ’s upcoming TBD—and it sounds like this project will be focused on blends instead of single-origin coffees. While no longer an owner of De La Paz, founder Jason Benford will remain involved (he approached the Four Barrel team with the offer to sell). Stand by for more in coming months. 1081 Mission St. at 7th St.

It’s also worth mentioning that upcoming Four Barrel and Josey Baker project ~THE MILL~ on Divisadero pushed out its opening to February 12th. I’ll have a full project recap and photos next week. Toast! It’s a-comin’. 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.

Also in the neighborhood: a few weeks ago, I was invited to check out the new heated gazebo in the back of ~RAGAZZA~. You can read all about this state-of-the-art invention on Haighteration—if you’re looking for a fun place to host your own private dinner party but can’t afford the usual crazy-expensive private dining rooms in this town, check it out! It’s cozy and a fun alternative.

Speaking of private dining rooms, ~SOCIALE~ has a new PDR, with room for up to 25 guests.

I heard that ~THE DANCING PIG BBQ~ (warning: music!) in the Castro has closed today. No one is picking up the phone, so this remains unconfirmed, but my source is pretty confident. 544 Castro St. at 19th St., 415-529-2797.

Over in the ~FERRY BUILDING~ Marketplace, the latest kiosk to join the family is Pressed Juicery. From February 7th-13th, they will be running a special: the full program of cleanse juices will be offered for just $39 a day, discounted from the original $48.50, and the recommended three-day cleanse for $117, discounted from the original $145.50. Open daily 6am-8pm.

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The patio at Aracely. Photo from Facebook.

~AXIS CAFÉ~ is no more, but it has been reopened by general manager Linda Edson and renamed ~ARACELY~. Originally, Scoop caught the rumor that Edson would be opening Aracely on Treasure Island, and taking over Axis before and after the demolition of its current space. Now, Edson says that she is still planning to open a location on Treasure Island, though that project remains far-off. In the meantime, Aracely has the lease on the former Axis space until the building is demolished. When that will be remains to be seen, but for now there will be breakfast, lunch, and a lot of space for events and parties. 1201 8th St. at Irwin, 415-437-2947.

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Cotogna during the day. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

Some new meals to add to your roster: starting Sunday February 10th, ~COTOGNA~ will be serving Sunday brunch from 11:30am-2:30pm. You can check out the menu here, which includes Lindy’s fried chicken and waffles ($16) and pork shoulder hash with rutabaga and baked egg ($16). An extra bonus on opening day: they will be holding their first annual sidewalk sale, featuring porcelain pieces by Bernardaud, Heath Ceramics, Raynaud, and more (uh huh). There will also be $5 Bloody Mary and prosecco coupes.

A while back, Hayeswire mentioned ~NOJO~ was starting lunch counter service Wed-Fri, and here’s a link to the menu. Hours are Wed-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, and brunch service has been extended to Sat 11am-2:30pm.

Also in the neighborhood, ~SEBO~ is going to be doing a redux of its Sunday izakaya nights on Sunday February 10th and 24th.

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Copita’s rotisserie oven. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Across the Golden Gate in Sausalito, ~COPITA~ is getting a new chef. Gonzalo Rivera Jr. is an alum of the Michael Mina empire and has worked extensively in both Mexico and the United States. He has already worked with Joanne Weir to create some new dishes for the menu, including lamb barbacoa and pork belly tacos (he will also be working with Dilsa Lugo, Copita’s sous chef and gardener). Moving forward, there will be weeklong seasonal tasting menus inspired by different regions of Mexico. Open daily at 11am. 739 Bridgeway at Anchor, Sausalito, 415-331-7400.

Last week, I had this tidbit of gossip that was in the completely unconfirmed/hearsay column (I was waiting to hear back from the Le Garage folks) so I didn’t run it. But since the Le Garage folks are pretty bad at returning calls and emails and it was then mentioned elsewhere, it appears the gossip was correct: Bruno Denis and Olivier Souvestre are preparing to open a burger/casual spot in the ~PLATE SHOP~ location. It will reportedly be called ~FAST FOOD FRANCAIS~ and is due to open mid-February, possibly on Valentine’s Day. 39 Caledonia St. at Johnson, Sausalito, 415-887-9047.