November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014

The utterly incredible oven at Montesacro. Photo courtesy of Gianluca Legrottaglie.

Just around from the Dottie’s (on Stevenson at 6th Street) will be ~MONTESACRO~, an open-all-day-and-night enoteca from Gianluca Legrottaglie, a partner and the wine director of nearby ~54 MINT~ in Mint Plaza. Legrottaglie worked for six years in the Montesacro quarter, a Roman neighborhood that was a bit hardscrabble and reminds him of this part of the Tenderloin/SoMa, so in a way, his project will be his homage to post-World War II Rome.

The location is fascinating: for the past 20 years, it has been a Nepalese meditation center, but appears it was previously a bakery about 100 years ago—there’s a brick oven that is 15 feet by 8 feet high that Legrottaglie found behind a wall (the landlord had no idea it was even there). Sadly the oven maker stopped manufacturing in the 1950s, so Legrottaglie is busy combing through city records trying to get some history on the space (it’s connected to the neighboring Windsor Hotel). Anyone have any ideas? Was it a bakery? In the meantime, he is going to use an electric oven that he’s importing from Italy while the vintage oven will remain in a nonfunctional state (well, for now).

Legrottaglie is bringing over a pizzaiolo from Rome, who will be making nine different kinds of pizzas. But it’s actually not pizza—it’s pinsa, a type of oval flatbread you can find in Rome. The pinsa will be the first of its kind in San Francisco, using a dough that is a combination of three flours, a spin on a recipe that dates back to ancient Rome. Instead of the classic 00 flour, this will be an organic and GMO-free dough of Italian soy, rice, and frumento (wheat) that is imported from Rome. It rises for three days and is then stretched and baked to order—this version will be crisp and light. Toppings will include the Montesacro (stracciatella, kale, chile, anchovy), a capricciosa (artichokes, mushroom, olives, lardo), and gorgonzola e radicchio, all $15.

Since there isn’t a kitchen, the 49-seat enoteca will also be serving a variety of sott’olio (“under oil”) house-marinated vegetables, a classic Roman preparation, like eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and other vegetables. There will also be some salumi (culatello!), cheeses, salads, and desserts (including coffee granita with whipped cream, a Roman favorite!).

Legrottaglie will also be featuring a variety of quality well-priced wines and beer. He wants it to be a place where people will be comfortable hanging out, whether they’re playing Scopa at the bar or just enjoying a long afternoon over glasses (plural!) of wine. If you need to grab a quick lunch to bring back to your desk, there’s that option as well—you’ll find panini at lunch, like mortadella e provolone (pistachio mortadella, provolone cheese).

The space will feel rustic, old-fashioned, and dimly lit, with elements like wood mixing with industrial materials, like cement. Look for an opening in the end of February, we’ll keep you posted. Hours will be 12pm-12am. 510 Stevenson St. at 6th St.


The dining area. Photo: © 2014,


Just a small section of the amazing garden. Photo: © 2014,

Last week I attended the preview party of the new ~STEM KITCHEN & GARDEN~, which we mentioned awhile ago. It is in Mission Bay, very near where the new Warriors event center will be built. The 120-seat restaurant is now open and serving breakfast and lunch, plus happy hour. It’s a spacious location on the second floor (Engstrom Design Group designed the modern interior, with an open kitchen, a lounge area, a bar, and plenty of seats). In the back, there’s an expansive garden and patio that looks out onto the bay, complete with fire pits, a bocce ball lane, and a heated seating area too. The patio is going to be a huge hit on sunny game days, and since cocktails are allowed out back, you have a spiffy new happy hour destination.

It’s a Bon Appétit Management Company project, with executive chef Brent Johnson leading the kitchen. You can look at the opening menu here. The most prominent component to the project is the fact there’s a huge and abundant garden (managed by Farmscape), with the kitchen incorporating 100 percent of the produce into the Cal-Med menu. Some ingredients in the numerous raised beds include Castelfranco radicchio, Chioggia beets, broccoli di cicco, and bronze fennel. You don’t want to miss a look at it.

Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm for now. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St., 415-915-1000.


A booth at Hapa Ramen. Photo by Erin Conger.


A bowl of ramen at Kirimachi’s previous location. Photo: ©

Ramen shops continue to open at a breakneck pace in SF. The two latest shops to join the fray are ~HAPA RAMEN~ and ~KIRIMACHI RAMEN~. Hapa just opened this past Sunday November 23rd, serving three flavors of ramen (ranging from the classic Hapa version for $16, ratcheting up to a duck ramen for $24), plus steamed buns (filled with items like buttermilk fried chicken or slow-cooked pork belly with kimchi and plum) and a rotating list of market-driven small plates, like delicata squash and Blue Lake bean tempura, or a special of Dungeness crab poached in dashi, ponzu, and umami crackers. You can look at the menu here.

There are 11 Polynesian-inspired cocktails (by Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo, previously of Future Bars), featuring ingredients like wasabi honey syrup and Huli Huli pineapple-infused rye, while beers include Hitachino Nest white ale and Calicraft’s “The City” on draft, plus there are wines and sakes too. Geremia Design is behind the design of the 60-seat space, which includes traditional Japanese materials, modern light fixtures, wall murals, and a red ceiling, and you can still see the 99-cent store signage (intentionally) on the facade. Hours are Sun-Wed 5:30pm-12am, Thu-Sat 5:30pm-1am. No reservations. 2293 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-202-6333.

We were the first to report on ~KIRIMACHI RAMEN~ reopening in the Embarcadero Center (after shuttering its location on Broadway), and now we’re happy to say it has opened, according to Chowhounders. Right now, it’s in a bit of a soft opening phase—owner Leo Gondoputro is still waiting on their noodle machine, so noodles aren’t yet made in-house, though they will be. Yelpers report miso, tonkotsu, and shoyu ramen are on the menu, along with an appetizer called the natto taco, go for it. They’re open all day Monday through Saturday, for both lunch and dinner, plus some happy hour specials will be available in the afternoon. Sundays are dinner only. Hours are Mon-Sat 10:30am-9pm and Sun 4pm-9pm. 3 Embarcadero Center, Clay St. at Davis, 415-872-9171.


The beet burger at Seed + Salt. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

~SEED + SALT~ is a new restaurant from owner Mo Clancy and executive chef Ariel Nadelberg (Al Di La in NYC) that’s scheduled to open in the Marina on Sunday November 30th. It’s all about healthy and plant-based eating, so this is the place to find vegan, gluten-free, and cane sugar-free foods that are still focused on flavor. They’ve also made sure nothing contains GMO products. The space (designed by G. Paoletti Design Lab) is small, with only 14 seats inside and benches outside, and the menu will be available for dine-in or takeout.

In addition to their afternoon menu, they will also be serving breakfast. Because of the unique quality of the menu, most items are made from scratch, including spreads, dips, “cheeses” made with nut milk, and a gluten-free seed and nut loaf. Clancy and Nadelberg have been collaborating on recipes and refining techniques for a year. They are also making gluten- and cane sugar-free pastries. For breakfast, check out a chickpea frittata or their housemade granola. In the afternoon, check out a beet burger, seasonal salads, and a “BLT” made with smoky eggplant in place of bacon. Hours are Mon-Sat 7am-8pm, Sun 10am-8pm. 2240 Chestnut St. at Avila, 415-872-9173.


The sign at Cockscomb. Photo from Cockscomb’s Instagram feed.

According to a Craigslist ad, Chris Cosentino’s latest, ~COCKSCOMB~ is opening in SoMa very very soon. We couldn’t confirm anything, but test dinners (or a soft opening) appear to be under way. They are currently seeking a “shuck and swallow champion…the best oyster shucker” to join their team within the week, and reservations are available for Monday December 1st, so they definitely sound super close. 564 4th St. at Brannan, 415-974-0700.

Somebody call Meg Ryan: there’s a new Mexican restaurant coming to the Castro, with the distinct name of ~TACORGASMICO~. Hoodline reports that it’s moving into the former Blue Restaurant space on Market, though no other details are available, except that a sign in the window promises to offer “simple Mexican pleasures.” Gross. 2337 Market St. at Noe.

Okay, all you New Englanders who miss that taste of home: Dunkin’ Donuts is officially opening outposts in the Bay Area in 2016. The company’s westward expansion has been slow, but The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that the orange and pink will be opening 13 locations in the San Jose area, along with 26 in San Francisco and surrounding areas. So we traded Pablo, and all we got in return was a bucket of iced hazelnut coffee? Actually, that sounds pretty good right about now…make it a regulah.


The slip of a space that was Sam Wo. Photo from Sam Wo’s website.

According to a very exciting post on their Facebook page, closed Chinatown institution ~SAM WO~ is reopening. They’ve reportedly secured a location in Chinatown and are hoping to open sometime after the Chinese New Year. To recap, the original Sam Wo building (which was built in 1907) needed at least $300K in upgrades, and the restaurant was unable to come to an agreement with the building owner, so they had to close. While nowhere could be quite the same as the original location, this is wonderful news. We’ll keep you posted on their new location and opening!

Back in August, we reported that ~MINAKO ORGANIC JAPANESE CUISINE~ in the Mission would be moving this fall. Well, we had a chance to follow up with them, and it turns out that their landlord has extended their lease six months. So, for now, the search for a new location is on hold until spring. 2154 Mission St. at Sycamore, 415-864-1888.


A look at Red Door Coffee’s new lounge area at 505 Howard. Photo via @reddoorcoffee on Instagram.

Three new places join our coffee scene: first is ~RED DOOR COFFEE~, which we wrote about a few months ago. This project is the second location of the Red Door Coffee that founder Eiming Jung runs out of 111 Minna (and will continue to do so). He partnered with David Mabry and Michelle Delaney on this new location, which features a lounge area and small kitchen (1601 Bar & Kitchen will be offering lunch items).

They are serving Four Barrel coffee, which you can enjoy in a designated public space in the building and an open-air plaza. There is also Wi-Fi (and outlets). Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat 8am-1pm; once the application for a beer and wine license goes through, there will be happy hour Mon-Fri from 5pm-8pm or so. They’re in soft opening mode right now, and Monday will be full throttle. 505 Howard St. at 1st St.

Opening on Monday December 8th downtown is the new ~MAZARINE COFFEE~. It’s named for Paris’ oldest public library and comes from owner Hamid Rafati. They’ll be serving Klatch Coffee, a roaster from Southern California, along with Ritual. In the morning, there will be a breakfast menu, and then an all-day menu of sandwiches and salads. You’ll also find pastries from Starter Bakery, beer on tap, and wine. The space was designed by Boor Bridges Architecture, who also did The Mill and Sightglass (they’ve got a bit of a coffee niche, it would seem), and they are using a special line of indigo dishes by Heath.

If you’d like to check Mazarine out at a special opening party, you can: there will be two on Wednesday December 3rd and another two on Thursday December 4th, from 8am-11am or 12pm-3pm. They’ll be serving free sandwiches and salads, and all coffee will be $1, with wine and beer for $3. To attend, send an email with your name, day you’d like to attend, number in your party and preferred time to save your spot. Once open, hours will be Mon-Sat 8am-5pm. Eventually, they’ll expand to 7am-7pm. 720 Market St. at Kearny, 415-398-7700.

Meanwhile, over in Cow Hollow is the third ~ESPRESSAMENTE ILLYCAFFÈ~, which is scheduled to open Monday December 1st in the Metro Theater building on Union Street (i.e., the Equinox gym building). There are 49 seats, with a variety of espresso drinks, brewed coffee, and food items, ranging from panini to salads to desserts based on recipes inspired by Joyce Goldstein. Free Wi-Fi. Open daily 6am-9pm. You can come by throughout the scheduled opening week for a complimentary illy espresso. 2055 Union St. at Webster.


Blake Askew, the new executive chef at Aveline and The European. Photo by Eric Wolfinger.

After the news that executive chef Casey Thompson left ~AVELINE~, we’ve got an update on who is moving into the executive chef role at the restaurant and attached bar, ~THE EUROPEAN~. Blake Askew (who might win a prize for best name) had been the opening executive sous chef and will now be stepping into the new role. He and Thompson worked together at Shinsei in Dallas previously, and his résumé also includes stints at various Wolfgang Puck outposts, including Washington D.C.’s The Source.

As for Aveline’s menu, you can take a look at the current offerings here. 490 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-345-2303.


Jook from Trilogi. Feel the healing powah. Photo: ©

~TRILOGI~, an Asian-inspired catering company, is popping up at Nabe in the Inner Sunset on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30am-2pm. Their delicious jook saved the ‘hopper during a bad bout of food poisoning last week, and a sample menu also lists a fried chicken sandwich with egg salad (whoa) and a fried tofu salad. Keep updated by following their Facebook page. 1325 9th Ave. at Irving, 425-829-7254.

For a cool new brunch pop-up option, check out ~ĀINA~ at 903 Cortland restaurant space. On Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-2pm, Bernalwood reports that the team of Jordan Keao and Jason Alonzo will be offering Hawaiian-inspired dishes like a kalua pork omelet over furikake rice with baby arugula pico de gallo. 903 Cortland St. at Gates, 415-500-5118.


The chicken and waffles at Hog’s Apothecary. Photo courtesy Hog’s Apothecary.

~HOG’S APOTHECARY~ is now serving weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2:30pm. The menu, which will change seasonally, showcases their house-butchered meats in their full glory, with dishes like a the butcher’s breakfast (that’s an egg, grilled quail, scrapple, a choice of pork or sausage, polenta, rapini, and “animal juice,” $19). Less hearty appetites (or simply the less hungover) can try the chicken and waffles ($17) or corn porridge with dates, yogurt, cinnamon, and almonds ($8). They are also going to be open between brunch and dinner service for drinks and football games, from 2:30pm-5pm. 375 40th St. at Opal, Oakland, 510-338-3847.

The Mission’s ~LA MOVIDA~ is now open for Sunday brunch from 10am-2pm. They’ve got waffles in two versions—with fried chicken, or served with a sampler of butter flavors including Philz Coffee and maple bacon—plus vegetable hash with eggs, biscuits in housemade chorizo gravy, and steak and eggs. Check out the menu here. Oh, and there are bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys in addition to the regular beer and wine list too. 3066 24th St. at Treat, 415-282-3066.

Looking for a cozy Sunday dinner? Check out the Sunday Pairings option at ~MASON PACIFIC~, where you can get a set menu paired with wines, starting December 7th. The menu selection will change weekly; follow along on Facebook for updates.


Craaaaaaab. Flickr photo by Jill Siegrist.

If you’re still needing a crab fix after last week’s roundup, never fear! The crab events just keep coming. Isn’t Northern California the best? First, check out Slow Crab from Slow Food San Francisco on Sunday December 7th from 5pm-8pm. The all-you-can-eat supper includes crab, of course, side dishes, and dessert, all for $50. Wine from Sutton Cellars will be available, as well as beer. Tickets here. 1555 Burke Ave. Suite A, at 3rd St.

~STARBELLY~ is throwing their annual crab feast on Tuesday December 2nd. The feast offers a set menu, including crab chowder, simple whole crab, Caesar salad with garlic croutons, and apple cobbler for dessert. Oro en Paz chardonnay will be poured all night long, as well. Tickets are $99 per person and include dinner, wine, tax, and tip. Reservations can be made for 6pm or 8pm. 3583 16th St. at Pond, 415-252-7500.


The chop salad at Veg 388. Photo from Facebook.

~CLOVE & HOOF~, the whole animal-focused butcher shop and restaurant we mentioned in April, has now opened in Oakland. The project comes from Analiesa Gosnell (previously a butcher at Cafe Rouge) and chef John Blevins (previously at Gather and Lalime’s) and is all about whole animal meats that are butchered in-house. Each day, they’ll offer a lunch menu, highlighting offal and unusual cuts of meat, mostly in sandwich form. Look for a burger, of course, plus meatballs, sausages, and fried chicken. You can also purchase cuts of meat and prepared products from their butcher case, including turkeys and dry-aged beef roasts. Hours are Wed-Sun 11am-7pm. 4001 Broadway at 40th St., Oakland, 510-547-1446.

In Albany, Jon Guhl of Little Star and Ryan Murff of Northbrae Bottle Shop have opened ~BOSS~, a burger joint on Solano. They’re slinging patties made with Five Dot Ranch beef ground daily in-house. Patties are smaller, but available as doubles for those with a beefy appetite. They’ve also got a fried chicken sandwich, a vegetarian patty, and milk shakes; here’s the full menu. Of note: all of their frying is done in beef tallow, so be aware for vegetarian types. 1187 Solano Ave. at Cornell, Albany, 510-526-2677.

Moving away from the meat-centric offerings, let’s talk about Veg 388, a pop-up from chef Kevin Schruder at his Oakland restaurant ~KITCHEN 388~. It’s happening Tue-Thu from 6pm-9pm, Eater reports. The menu has lots of options that will make vegans and gluten-free diners happy, too, like a wild fennel and scallion fried rice cake with Brussels sprouts, maitake mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and black garlic gravy; check out the menu here. 388 Grand Ave. at Staten, 510-893-3005.