August 8, 2017

August 8, 2017

It’s aperitivo o’clock. Photo: Takashi Fukuda.


A look inside the chic and midcentury-inspired look of Ardiana. Photo: Takashi Fukuda.


Time for dinner! Photo: Takashi Fukuda.


Some classic Ardiana family pics. Photo: Takashi Fukuda.


A look toward the bar/counter. Photo: Takashi Fukuda.

It’s such a satisfying feeling when the replacement for a sweet neighborhood spot that sadly closed (La Nebbia) is just as lovable, with equally kind and thoughtful owners. Yeah, Noe Valley, you should be really happy about the opening of ~ARDIANA~ tonight from Sharon Ardiana, of Gialina and Ragazza fame, with business partner (and Ragazza GM) Greg Hinds.

While Ardiana is known for her crisp-crust pizzas with fantastic toppings and combinations, at Ardiana, things will expand to be a bit more Mediterranean. The menu is designed to be flexible, depending on your appetite, group size, and whether you have little ones in tow or not. For example, the menu has a “For the Table” section, with six creative mezes to choose from, all paired with housemade pita bread. Think roasted eggplant dip with pomegranate molasses, Greek yogurt, and mint; carrot hummus with black tahini, sumac, and watermelon radish; and pickled baby beets with orange blossom yogurt, pistachios, and mint. She’s having fun with all these ingredients, like the golden and black sesame pastes in the carrot hummus are from Greg Dunmore’s Japanese Pantry, and the eggplant purée features lemon verbena syrup made from her roof-deck plants. The mezes are $7 each, three for $19, five for $31, The Whole Shebang for $36.

Fortunately some of Ardiana’s trademark badass salads will be in the mix, with two lettuce salads and more seasonal items. Right now the height-of-season salads include an heirloom tomato (Mariquita Farm tomatoes) salad with brown butter, lemon verbena, and shiso; summer stone fruit (from Balakian Farms) with pistachio butter, Di Stefano burrata, and Star Route Farms purslane, with a drizzle of Mugolio syrup (a pinecone bud extract from the Dolomites); and then there’s 24-month prosciutto di Parma with Full Belly Farms goddess melons (which Ardiana says are insanely sweet right now).

As for the pizzas, she doesn’t want to cannibalize Gialina and will be making only six or seven pies. Instead of a Margherita, she’s doing New York, New York, with tomato sauce, oregano, mozzarella, and when it comes hot out of the oven, it gets a dusting of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. She really hopes it “takes East Coasters back to a great slice that they had in NYC.” The funghi pizza is made with trumpet mushrooms and is finished with some Sardinian Moliterno truffle cheese (which I am sure former La Nebbia owners Massimiliano and Lorella approve of—they were both Sardinian).

Since this location has more oven space, Ardiana is excited to add some larger plates, like roasted Mary’s chicken breast with a stone fruit panzanella made with Tartine bread and Balakian Farms peaches and plums. There’s king salmon with nasturtium butter from her garden along with marinated farro and sweet white corn. How about a lamb chop with whipped feta, potato hash, and chermoula, or a meaty long-braised beef short rib rubbed with star anise, coffee, and brown sugar?

Dessert includes tiramisu, a light olive oil cake, coconut-lime semifreddo, and ice cream sandwiches with Bi-Rite Creamery mint chip inside. You can see how Ardiana and business partner Hinds are keen on making this a neighborhood- and family-friendly spot, that “go-to” kind of place where you can easily grab dinner, dine solo at the counter, or have a date night.

The look was updated to be a bit midcentury, with wood chairs and a vibrant blue wall, and of course some Ardiana family photos taken in Pennsylvania by her Dutch great-uncle Emile, who was an amateur photographer (he had a darkroom in his basement).

The wine list was curated by their good friend Deena Smith, formerly of The Henry Wine Group. Of course you’ll find some Italian wines, but also France, Spain, and even a bit of California will be represented. You can enjoy an aperitivo with some low-ABV cocktails she created ($10 each), including the Phony Negroni (Contratto Bitter, Berto Rosso vermouth, juniper-infused Minato sake), the Ardiana Spritz (Contratto aperitif, prosecco, soda, orange), and the San Lucar (Bordiga Bianco vermouth, La Guita sherry, and a lemon twist).

The GM is Andrea “Andi” Suhr, formerly a Lazy Bear captain and Hog Island alumnus, and Jesse Scott Moore—most recently sous chef at Heirloom Café—will be chef de cuisine.

Hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm, closed Sun-Mon. Reservations accepted through Resy. 1781 Church St. at 30th St., San Francisco, 415-926-5982.


A look inside The Grove Design District. Yelp photo by Madhu C.


Kunafeh at Khamsa. Yelp photo by Adil E.

Just want to tear through some quick opening news for you: as mentioned previously in tablehopper, ~THE GROVE~ has now opened a location in the Design District, aka Showplace Square. You’ll find their usual approachable all-day menu and a patio. Hours are Mon-Thu 7am-10pm, Fri 7am-10:30pm, Sat 8am-10:30pm, Sun 8am-10pm. 1 Henry Adams St. at Division, 415-834-5105.

Back in March, I mentioned ~NORCINA~ was opening in Waterfront Plaza. This Italian café and delicatessen from Kaitlynn Bauman (of Parlor 1255 in Levi’s Plaza) is all about breakfast and lunch service, with a frittata with broccoli rabe and potato, sandwiches, a range of salads, coffee from Cibo in Sausalito, gelato, and more.

The menu includes tigelle (flatbread-style sandwiches with mortadella and artichoke, or prosciutto cotto e crema di pecorino), and an egg and cheese tigella for breakfast. Salads include a Tuscan kale version with cannellini beans, artichoke hearts, fennel, and pecorino. There’s also housemade gelato for when your sweet tooth strikes, and some outdoor seating where you can enjoy it. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm. 50 Francisco St. at Montgomery.

There’s a new Cal-Moroccan spot that opened in the Mission, ~KHAMSA~, serving lunch and dinner (menus here), with brunch coming soon, which you’ll be able to enjoy on their patio. Hours are daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm. 1503 15th St. at S. Van Ness, 628-233-1503.


The back of Nico’s dining room, looking into the semi-open kitchen. Photo courtesy of Urban Daddy, by Michael David Rose Photography.


The unique shelving (and a look into the open kitchen) at Alta Mid-Market. Photo: ©

After announcing the closure of longtimer ~BOCADILLOS~ last week, now the taker for the space has been revealed: Laurel Heights’ ~NICO~. Owners Andrea and Nicolas Delaroque reportedly have been working on the deal for some time and hope to reopen in January in their new location. Scoop notes the space will be half the size of their current (and rather beautiful) location, but the hope is that the ability to add lunch service in this busy part of the city will make their numbers really work. Nico is closing August 26th. Fun fact: this location was originally the home of the Black Cat, a famous gay bar in the city. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington.

Meanwhile, some updates in Daniel Patterson’s culinary world: according to a piece in Eater, the flagship ~ALTA~ in Mid-Market will be closing once the upcoming Alta location in the nearby Yotel (an affordable British hotel group coming to 1095 Market St.) is open this fall (which will also feature a rooftop bar). And in Oakland, Alta will open in the former ~HAVEN~ (44 Webster St., Jack London Square) as Alta Oakland in spring 2018. And don’t forget there’s the Alta that recently opened in the Minnesota Street Project in Dogpatch. (You got all that?)


A rendering of the proposed Bi-Rite café in Civic Center (along Grove Street). Rendering courtesy of Sarah Holt (BRFOB Marketing Team).

Last week, I got a call from Sam Mogannam, the vibrant owner of our beloved ~BI-RITE MARKETS~, who was excited to share details about his plans to (hopefully) open a daytime café and kiosk in Civic Center flanking one of the upgraded playgrounds coming to the area (thanks to the $10 million donation from the Helen Diller Family Foundation). The foundation is generously kicking in another million to open this café, all in an attempt to revitalize a downright bleak section of the city, which will hopefully start transforming into a beautiful plaza. Mogannam thinks the playgrounds will help give the underutilized plaza an identity and bring safety to the area. As he says, “Kids remind us.”

Some city approvals will need to happen first, but in a best-case scenario, the café would hopefully open in spring 2018. It would have glass walls and be transparent on all sides, and there would be outdoor seating. It would be open from the morning until early evening, serving pastries and breakfast sandwiches and coffee, plus salads, sandwiches, popsicles, and soft-serve ice cream. Will keep you posted. Civic Center, Grove at Larkin.

A tablehopper scout named Lisa B. noticed Marin’s ~WOODLANDS MARKET~ is opening a location in the Lumina, a luxury condominium at 201 Folsom St. (at Main). It will have 9,500 square feet, and in addition to its extensive organic and sustainable selection of products, the market will also serve prepared foods, coffee, in-house juices, and fresh bread daily, plus there’s a pet shop and fresh flowers.

The Belgian Bernal spot from the Pi Bar folks, ~BEL~, is sadly closing at the end of this month, and a new spot called ~OUTER ORBIT~ from Christian Gainsley and Elisabeth Kohnke will be taking its place. The pinball hall-restaurant hybrid will be styled like an old-school pinball salon, suitable for all ages and skill levels. In between pinball games, you’ll be able to nosh on Hawaiian-inspired bites, plus there will be beer and wine (and beverages for the kiddos). Look for an opening in early 2018. 3215 Mission St. at Valencia.

~THE PLANT CAFÉ ORGANIC~ at Pier 3 on the Embarcadero is now closed after 10 years in the location, and it looks like a place called ~SEASIDE~ is taking its place. We reached out to a contact involved with the new project, stand by.

Tipster Lisa B. also noticed a sign going up for a ~BUCKHORN GRILL~ in the former Boudin Bakery at 619 Market St. at New Montgomery.


The cozy dining room at MINA Test Kitchen. Photo via Facebook.


The bacon and egg pizza at Stem. Photo courtesy of Stem.


The exterior of The Den in Bayview. Photo: William Werner.

While I’m sad to say farewell to ~POSTCARDS FROM LA COSTIERA~ (it just ended this past weekend), the latest concept at ~THE MINA TEST KITCHEN~ will be Mi Almita, lauching August 23rd. Michael Mina is partnering with Houston’s James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega (Xochi, Hugo’s, Caracol, Backstreet Cafe) on this seventh pop-up. The collaborative menu will take a journey throughout Mexico with dishes like huitlasquites corn soup, with fragrant chicken broth, huitlacoche, and housemade queso fresco; a ceviche trio sourced from the tidal pools of Fort Bragg; pozole verde with littleneck clams, hominy, and pumpkin seeds; pulpo al carbón, or grilled octopus with sweet peppers and caramelized onions, served with chipotle tomatillo salsa and housemade tortillas; and for dessert, a tasting of housemade Mexican chocolate.

The beverage program will complement the menu with several varieties of agave spirits (mezcal, tequila, bacanora, and raicilla), with some flights, cocktails, and more. Wines will be from Mexico or from California made by Mexican winemakers or vineyard managers.

Dinner is $39 for the five-course menu, with supplemental courses available. Dinner is served Wed-Sat, starting Wednesday August 23rd. Reservations. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

Looking for a fun spot to enjoy your Saturday afternoon? ~STEM KITCHEN & GARDEN~ has launched a new Saturday lunch service (11:30am-3pm), so you can take advantage of their outdoor bar, patio with bay views, and bocce ball court! You can take a look at the menu, which includes oysters, short rib hash, pizzas, and shakshuka with baked eggs, stewed tomatoes, and peppers, black kale, and garden herbs served with baguette. 499 Illinois St. at 16th St., 415-915-1000.

Not too far away in Dogpatch, ~GLENA’S~ has made another adjustment by adding table service, and they are now open for Tuesday lunch too. Closed Mondays. Now go get some of their awesome al pastor tacos. 632 20th St. at 3rd St., 415-800-7415.

Over in Bayview, ~THE DEN~ from Craftsman and Wolves is launching a new Sunday menu on Sunday August 13th to coincide with the Bayview Farmers Market pilot, which is right in front of their shop on Yosemite (the test market will run for the next five weeks from 10am-2pm). Come by for Sunday-only menu items like short and tall stacks of classic, strawberry, and Valrhona chocolate chip hot cakes, along with side options including “CAWnadian” bacon (black coffee-brined smoked pork loin), a hash brown waffle with brown butter mayo, soft-boiled egg, and fruit from the market. You can also get the Rebel Within, an insanely good frittata breakfast sandwich, and more. Bonus: free drip coffee for motorcyclists, and market-goers who purchase produce will receive a Friend of the Farmers 10 percent discount on all purchases at The Den, which will be open from 8am-2pm. 1598 Yosemite Ave. at Keith, 415-423-3337.

Happy 10th birthday to ~BRENDA’S FRENCH SOUL FOOD~, which is celebrating the entire month of August by giving back to the Tenderloin community. Come by for a special edition strawberry shortcake beignet, with 100 percent of the proceeds to be donated to Saint Anthony’s and Glide Church. Nice work, Brenda’s!


Whoa, was there something in my beer? Nope, Outside Lands always delivers on the trippy lights! Photo: Tom Tomkinson.


Rich Table’s porcini doughnuts with raclette cheese. Photo courtesy of Outside Lands.


Last year’s meatball sandwich from Stones Throw. Photo: ©

This weekend is the 10th Outside Lands, and as of now, single-day tickets are still available (they’re anticipating a sellout later this week, so snag tickets while you can).

There are an impressive 81 restaurants, 41 wineries, 30 breweries, and 6 cocktail bars in all this year! Here are some new restaurant partners on my to-visit list: Tartine Manufactory with morning buns and toasted mortadella hoagies (!!), Dabba (so tasty, check out their “ethnic confusion” burritos), spicy fried chicken sandwiches from Sorrel, Shanghai lumpia from FOB Kitchen, slices of deep-dish pizza from Little Star, Marlowe’s bacon burgers (thanks to this year’s food curator Anna Weinberg), and Black Cat’s lamb burgers. You can warm up with jambalaya (or gumbo!) from Alba Ray’s when Karl the Fog is hanging around too much, and I’m sure Fearless Coffee’s olive oil-fried egg sandwiches will come in handy one hungover morning. Ditto doughnuts from Johnny Doughnuts (coming to Hayes Valley over Labor Day!) and coffee from the Lady Falcon Coffee Club (mmmm, mochas with Mexican vanilla whipped cream). And Humphry Slocombe is serving Secret Breakfast Sundaes and Bourbon Coke Floats.

Of course there are some OSL classics like fried chicken and waffles from Little Skillet, chicken curry nachos and lamb sloppy joes (so good) from Azalina’s, porcini doughnuts from Rich Table (bring on the raclette!), momos from Bini’s Kitchen, and then Stones Throw is making monkey-bread chicken Parm melts and Italian-style tater tots that sound wicked (last year’s meatball sandwich was a winner, so I am all over that Parm). Ramen from Itani Ramen will warm you up (and I plan to check out their fried chicken gyoza at Wine Lands), while crab rolls from Fine & Rare and pastrami cheese fries from Wise Sons Deli will fill you up and give you energy to walk and dance all over the park. Don’t forget Outside Clams! I love the OSL puns. LOL.

Check out the GastroMagic lineup here, known for Big Freedia and her troupe bouncin’ and twerkin’ for beignets, plus Action Bronson, Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest, and Roy Choi all taking the stage with local chefs and restaurants and musicians.

There are a couple of “outside” Outside Lands events going on as well. On Friday August 11th, Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center is doing an Inside-Out Lands event, with their house band playing some of the festival’s greatest hits, starting at 8pm.

There’s also a Mimosa Lands preparty on Saturday August 12th at ~THE DORIAN~ from 12pm-6pm, with brunch, $20 endless mimosas (12:30pm-3pm), music by Foreign Language, and $10 bus rides via Chariot to the festival grounds (must prepurchase ticket; the last remaining pickups at The Dorian are at 4:30pm). 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-814-2671.