April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015
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The Quadraro pinsa at Montesacro. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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The front dining area.

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Mixed salumi and cheese plate.

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The Centocelle pinsa.

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The pinsa-making station (and oven).

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The original oven dating back to when the space was a bakery.

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Looking toward the back of the enoteca.

Do you remember that behemoth vintage oven we showed you back in November, the focal point of ~MONTESACRO~, the Tenderloin/SoMa enoteca from Gianluca Legrottaglie? Well, that former baking beauty is all lit up, and it’s a jaw-dropping backdrop in this exceedingly charming pinseria romana/enoteca that just opened last night on Stevenson (a few doors down from Dottie’s). Legrottaglie, a partner and the wine director at the nearby 54 Mint, is a Roman who wants to pay homage to the Montesacro quarter—a hardscrabble Roman neighborhood where he worked for six years. (He says the Tenderloin reminds him a lot of that place.)

Legrottaglie also wants to introduce San Franciscans to the pinsa, an ancient style of flatbread—he uses Italian soy, rice, and wheat flour that he imports from Rome and is all GMO-free. The dough rises for 72 hours, and the dough balls are stretched by hand with rice flour and pressed to order into an oval shape, topped, and baked in the Cuppone oven for 90 seconds—it yields a crisp crust that is also light, with an enduring flavor that is unlike any dough you have tasted in SF. And since it’s not 100 percent wheat, it’s easier to digest as well (it’s also lower in fat and calories). And you won’t find burnt flour on the crust like you do from a brick oven—the Cuppone is an advanced electric oven that bakes very clean.

This ancient ancestor of pizza was sold outside Rome’s city walls, made by peasants who kneaded cereals (like millet, barley, oats, and spelt), salt, and herbs, and then pressed it (pinsa comes from the Latin for “pressed”) into an oval shape and seared it on hot coals. Let’s just say Virgil wrote about pinsa; is that old enough for you?

But this enoteca balances the past and present remarkably well. As soon as you walk in, it feels like such a discovery, with tall ceilings, a variety of seating areas, and an eclectic style that suits the old space very well. There is a communal table at the front, and tables with colorful vintage chairs from Indonesia in the 1950s that Legrottaglie found (the base of some of the larger tables are old sewing machines). The original colorful floor tiles, which are more than 100 years old, are a cool remnant from the space’s recently uncovered past history as a bakery that was once connected to a restaurant.

The pizza oven is toward the front, purposefully placed there so you can smell the pinsas baking upon entering. Toward the back is a wine bar, equipped with a classic Faema E61, more seating, and the glowing old oven (which is not in use, but lit up beautifully inside—it dates back to 1912-1914 or thereabouts). The walls feature vintage educational scenes from Rome that Legrottaglie actually found locally (one even includes a picture of the school he went to, such serendipity).

Legrottaglie has brought over two Roman pizzaioli, Claudio Gaetani and Alessandro Delle Rose, who have both been making pizzas (and pinsas) for more than five years. On the menu, you will find an array of 10 pinsas, like the capricciosa-like Centocelle ($17, mozzarella, tomato, artichokes, mushroom, olives, egg, prosciutto) and the Montesacro ($16, stracciatella, kale, peperoncini, garum). I can’t wait to return for the Pietralata ($19, mozzarella, bottarga, marjoram, extra-virgin olive oil)—the color of the bottarga they were shaving on top was marigold yellow. Fans of an amatriciana will enjoy the Quadraro ($17, tomato, red onion, pancetta, pecorino). You can cut it into pieces and share, and it’s very easy to pick up with your hands.

Also on the menu: some quality salumi and cheeses (choose 1 for $6, 3 for $15), or go for the mixed platter for $22. There are five kinds of salads, plus an array of vegetables under oil, like zucchini and eggplant, and lunchtime will feature three kinds of classic panini for $11 (including gambuccio e stracchino: prosciutto shank and soft crescenza cheese). There are also some desserts, like pinsa stuffed with Nutella and mascarpone. The menu is designed to be flexible and enjoyed throughout the day and evening, whether you want a small bite after work or dishes to share with friends over wine.

Speaking of wine, the international wine list extends beyond Italy, including other European selections, plus California and even New Zealand. I’m happy with the three sparkling choices, and there are some unique beers as well. Of course Legrottaglie will be pouring wines by the glass that aren’t even on the list, so it’s always good to talk and see what bottles he has open.

Hours for now are 11:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-11pm (we’ll keep you posted on when it’s open continuously all day). Meet your new hangout! 510 Stevenson St. at 6th St., 415-795-3040.

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The clean and rustic interior of Octavia. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

Consider this your public service announcement of two big openings that are happening this week; I won’t be covering in greater depth until next Tuesday’s tablehopper. First up, the much-awaited opening of Melissa Perello’s ~OCTAVIA~ is happening this Thursday April 16th. Her new Pacific Heights restaurant (which is opening in the former Baker & Banker and original Quince location) will have a little bit more of everything: more dishes (like squid ink noodles with fennel vinaigrette, green garlic, Marash chile, Cortez bottarga), more seats, and the bigger cellar means more wine selections from beverage director Paul Einbund. Reservations are available starting today, and there will also be seats reserved for walk-ins. Stand by for images and more next week. Dinner nightly 5pm-10:30pm. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush, 415-408-7507.

Opening on Friday April 17th is ~AATXE~ (say “aah-CHAY,” like you’re sneezing with a Spanish accent), the latest project from the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group. Chef and partner Ryan Pollnow partnered with The Bon Vivants to open this Spanish restaurant and bar on the street level of The Swedish American Hall. The menu will highlight Basque tapas culture, communal dining, and dishes with both local and Spanish provenance. More highlights: grower-producer wines exclusively from Spain, plus aperitifs and contemporary cocktails served individually or in a carafe (and there will be a lot of gins and G&Ts too).

You can make reservations for parties of up to four guests, and reservations for the chef’s counter will be available only by calling 415-471-2977 (calls will be accepted starting Thursday April 16th). Walk-ins will find seats at the communal table and bar. Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-471-2977.

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Baked and steamed pork belly buns from The Chairman. Photo courtesy of The Chairman’s Facebook page.

Fans of the pork belly-filled buns from ~THE CHAIRMAN~ truck will be happy to know there’s a new brick-and-mortar location that just opened in the Tenderloin. Not only can you get the usual bao selections, but Scoop mentions there will be some new bao (like Japanese curry beef) and that you can opt for rice bowls instead of the buns (like a braised short rib bowl with fennel slaw, soy mushrooms, panchan carrots and cucumbers, fried egg, and tempura flakes for $12 plus $2 for an egg). You’ll also find chicken wings with yuzu kosho, a noodle salad, and some housemade fruit sodas. It’s meant to be a quick and casual bite, with just 15 counter seats. Hours are 11am-9pm. 670 Larkin St. at Ellis, 415-813-8800

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The exterior of Lark. Photo courtesy of Lark.

The Castro has a new wine bar and casual restaurant, ~LARK~, which just opened in the former Brandy Ho’s. Hoodline says the owners, Coskun Abik (Dunya) and partner Sertac Yildizhan, are offering a menu of New American and Mediterranean dishes (you can look at the menu here), which includes feta calamari, mussels, roasted chickpeas, salads, a burger, lamb skewers, and more; there are also some traditional charcuterie and cheese boards. The international wine list has affordable wines by the glass, with flights of three wines of your choice for $15 (whites) or $17 (reds). Open Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Lunch and brunch will be added soon. 4068 18th St. at Hartford, 415-400-4623.

According to some posts on Yelp, there’s a new casual and petite spot in Lower Nob Hill called ~ROVE KITCHEN~. The menu of American comfort food includes a tasty-looking burger and fried chicken sandwich. Looks like it’ll be an easy spot for folks in the neighborhood to swing by for a bite. (Details are slim at the moment.) 678 Post St. at Jones.

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The classic Capp’s sign. Photo courtesy of Capp’s Corner website.

After holding down the corner of Powell and Green in North Beach for more than 50 years, ~CAPP’S CORNER~ is serving its last family meal and sadly closing its doors on Sunday April 19th. It’s not the usual situation of raised rent we keep hearing—Hoodline reports the landlord’s attorney made an unreasonable insurance request of owners Maureen and Tom Ginella, and they had to make the decision to close (read the piece for more—the attorney even blew off Governor Jerry Brown who tried to step in and set up a mediator, dude!). Fortunately the couple is planning to retire in Hawaii, but it’s a big loss for a lot of regulars who have been patronizing this old-school hangout for many years. 1600 Powell St. at Green, 415-989-2589.

Back in August of 2014, we reported that ~MINAKO ORGANIC JAPANESE CUISINE~ in the Mission would be moving in the fall, but then we learned in November that their lease was extended six months into the spring of 2015. Fast-forward to now, and tragically they were unable to stay in their space any longer and have closed (you can read their farewell note on their Facebook page). Seems the uncle of the landlord wanted the space. Hopefully the mother-and-daughter duo can find a new location, but first, they want to take a well-deserved break for a couple of months. [H/t Eater.] 2154 Mission St. at Sycamore, 415-864-1888.

Another old-timer that surprisingly closed is ~CAFE ABIR~, which has been open as long as I have lived in the Western Addition (that would be 20 years, whoa). Hoodline confirms the rumors I heard about the closure and also mentions that the adjoining Corkage wine shop has closed as well. A follow-up post says the owners of the building, the Dajani Group, will be moving Tsunami Sushi into the more spacious Abir location, and adding an oyster bar. As for the Tsunami space (1306 Fulton), which remains open for now, there is talk of opening a spirits lounge, somewhat like the group’s Nihon Whiskey Lounge. We’ll keep you updated. 1300 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

Fans of ~SCHULZIES~ bread pudding in Hayes Valley will be surprised to see the space is being converted into a Project Juice shop, which will also include smoothies, in early June. From badass banana chocolate to kale and ginger. [Via Hoodline.] 364 Hayes St. at Gough.

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The patio awaits. And cheese! Photo courtesy of The Cheese School.

Look, you love cheese, and I sure as hell love cheese, so let’s just say “yay” to the return of Cheese Makes Me Happy Hour at the ~CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO~. Because we are San Franciscans and no one bats an eye at a cheese happy hour. Good news: after you pay Uncle Sam his blood money on Wednesday April 15th, you can head on over to the happy hour, where a bountiful cheese table will await you, plus some beers and wines to choose from (your ticket includes one glass). Hang out on the patio. Relax. Eat cheese. On Wednesday evenings, from now through June 24th. 5:30pm-8pm. $22 (advance ticket sales close at 3pm the day of the event) or $30 at the door. 2124 Folsom St. at 17th St., 415-346-7530.

Next Tuesday April 21st, CUESA will be hosting an interesting panel, Evolving City, Evolving Restaurants, about our current restaurant landscape, with guest panelists Erin Archuleta (partner in ICHI Sushi + NI Bar), Joe Hargrave (owner of Tacolicious, Mosto, and Chino), and Thad Vogler (owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand). 6pm-8pm. $10. Tickets here. Port Commission Hearing Room, second floor of the Ferry Building, The Embarcadero at Market St.

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Dinnertime at Parties That Cook. Photo courtesy of PTC.

Whatcha doing this coming Sunday? If you aren’t heading to Meals on Wheels or Wok on the Wild Side, we have a couple more options for you. First up, there’s La Gran Pachanga, a fundraiser for Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School. Families will be making homemade tamales, pupusas, and elotes, plus there will be ceviche from Basa Seafood, dessert from Sixth Course and Tartine Bakery, and more. Plus cocktails, beer, art, a silent auction, and music. Tickets are $25-$30. 6pm-9pm. Public Works, 161 Erie St. at Mission.

The new ~PARTIES THAT COOK~ space (formerly Tante Marie) is hosting a very springy multicourse pop-up dinner on Sunday evening from two Cyrus and Manresa alums, Sarena Stern and Kingsley Fuller. Tickets are $95, 6pm, details here. Don’t forget to bring some wine! 271 Francisco St. at Stockton.

Did you catch my 7x7.com piece about pop-up dinners? It included a mention of Junju, a Korean pop-up by chef Robin Song of ~HOG & ROCKS~ on the next three Sundays, check it out.

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The one and only Anthony Bourdain. Photo courtesy of CNN (Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; season five’s Miami episode).

Fans of salty dog Anthony Bourdain will want to set an alarm on their calendar for this Friday April 17th at 9:59am, which is one minute before tickets go on sale on SHN for his nationwide Close to the Bone tour. His SF appearance is bringing him to Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday July 26th at 7pm. Tickets range from $67-$237. You can also call SHN Audience Services at 888-746-1799.

Here’s more on the one-man show: Tony’s appearance will feature “an unyielding, brutally honest monologue reflecting on diverse culture, street cuisine, and his travels to lesser-known locations around the world, followed by an open Q&A session.” Look for a deeper dive than what we currently see on his CNN original series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (season five premieres Sunday April 26th, by the way).

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The outdoor patio at The Dock and The Beer Shed. Photo: Vanessa Yap-Einbund.

Nosh mentioned an Indian restaurant was moving into the former Captain & Corset space, ~BOMBAY B’S INDIAN BISTRO~, and according to posts on Yelp, it is now open. It seems you can take your pick from two meat curries ($9.95) or vegetable curries ($8.95), which come with rice and salad. There are also some playful dishes like Indian tacos, burgers, kale pakoras, and masala fries. 2212 Broadway at Grand, Oakland. 

If you’re looking for a new brunch spot, ~THE BEER SHED~ (from Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery and chef James Syhabout of Commis and Hawker Fare) is now serving a hangover brunch from 12pm-5pm every Sunday—and the alfresco setting means you’ll get maximum fresh air too. The menu will interestingly be prepared outside as well, with a lot of dishes coming from the grill (like grilled asparagus with a slow-poached egg). And then there’s the al pastor pork chop taco and a deviled egg sandwich. There will be hair-of-the-dog cocktails (including horchata-style rum and milk punch), micheladas, and yes, draught beers from Adam Lamoreaux of Linden Street Brewery. Everything is less than $10.

One more thing to note: the next sunny evening, you’ll want to swing by for happy hour (Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6pm), with $1 off all draught beers, in addition to a $6 house michelada, a $6 seasonal rum punch, and a beer and a shot for $7. The full menu from The Dock will be available after 5pm in The Beer Shed in case you get snacky. 95 Linden St., Oakland, 510-338-3965.

Fans of mezcal won’t want to miss this tasting with Lucia Gonzales from Del Maguey on Wednesday April 22nd at ~DOÑA TOMÁS~. You will be able to taste all nine of the Del Maguey mezcals that Doña Tomás stocks, available in a “copita” ½-ounce taste and a full 1 ½-ounce shot. 5pm-6:30pm, with free snacks like chips and guacamole. 5004 Telegraph Ave. at 51st, Oakland, 510-450-0522.

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