April 17, 2018

April 17, 2018

Aperitivo time means Aperol Spritzes and Negroni Sbagliatos. Photo: Ryan Robles PR.


Get ready to grab a slice of wood-fired pizza fresh from the oven. Photo: Nadia Andreini.


Donato Scotti knows a thing or two about stuffed pasta, especially casonsei from his native Bergamo! Photo: Nadia Andreini.


Party time at Cento Osteria brings roasted suckling pig! Photo: Nadia Andreini.


You ready to hang out over some aperitivi, salumi, roast pig, and pasta? I think I know the answer! A couple weeks ago, I shared the latest details about Donato Scotti’s (of Donato Enoteca and CRU in Redwood City and Donato & Co. in Berkeley) first SF restaurant coming to the Embarcadero, ~CENTO OSTERIA~, and we get to be the first ones in! We’re hosting a pre-opening apericena party on Thursday May 3rd, and it’s going to be a blast.

If you attended the ~DONATO & CO.~ opening party I co-hosted last September, then you know Donato puts out quite a spread! (Italians can’t help themselves—they want everyone to eat!)

You’ll be the first to taste some dishes off the upcoming Cento Osteria menu, which is all about highlighting dishes from the different regions and provinces of Italy. You’ll get to taste housemade pasta (like his famed casonsei, a pasta from his native Bergamo stuffed with sausage, pancetta, amaretto crumbs, grana padano, and garlic) to a variety of pizzas from the wood-fired pizza oven, and roasted suckling pig! There will also be salumi, assorted antipasti, and vegetable dishes aplenty.

You’ll get to experience apericena, a trending style of eating in Italy: a dinner (cena) comprised of antipasti and ample bites and small plates (which is what you find during aperitivo time). It’s one of my favorite ways to eat, and it’s something Donato will be encouraging and bringing to life at Cento Osteria, especially since they have that full bar. Consider this your first apericena! You may have an Italian accent by the end of the evening (if you don’t already)!

To accompany all those tasty bites at the party, we’ll also be offering a few cocktails (courtesy of our generous sponsor Campari America), including Aperol Spritzes, Boulevardiers (my favorite!), Negronis, and Sbagliatos, as well as pouring some wines (prosecco, white, rosé, and red). Your ticket includes three drink tickets!

We’ll be making a donation to our charity partner for the evening, Family House, which serves as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns.

Tickets are only $50 (plus a ticket service fee), which will get you three drink tickets and access to all the delicious food! (Additional cocktails/wine will be available at a very affordable price.) And a donation will be made to charity partner Family House.

The party will run from 6pm-9pm. 21+ only. Get your tickets now, the last party sold out quickly.

See you on Thursday May 3rd! Festeggiamo!

100 Brannan St. at Embarcadero


The airy and natural-chic dining room at Sorrel. All photos: © tablehopper.com.


The artsy and well-appointed private dining room.


A lovely place setting—a pleasant meal awaits.


Madai crudo with finger lime, almond milk vinaigrette, poppy seed.


Springtime cappellacci in whey.

Last week, I emerged from my writing bunker to attend a preview dinner of ~SORREL~, which just opened last Friday, and what a beaut it is. Anyone who was mourning the loss/move of Nico from Sacramento Street to North Beach will be so happy to see such a stylish and considered (and utterly San Franciscan) restaurant taking its place. Co-founder and chef Alex Hong and co-founder and director of operations Colby Heiman have done a bang-up job of designing the restaurant themselves, and it’s a purr-fect fit for the charming Laurel Heights neighborhood.

Sorrel started as a pop-up (accumulating a tally of 135 dinners!) and now chef Hong gets to really craft an entire dining experience in a dedicated space. His background includes Jean Georges and Quince, and you’ll note some Italian influences in his elegant Northern Californian/New American dishes, which all reflect the height of seasonality and quality local ingredients (plus a few items from their burgeoning roof garden).

A great place to start on the à la carte menu is with the oysters ($4.50 each), with sorrel, oro blanco grapefruit, and Asian pear, and it will be tough to not fill up on the warm sourdough focaccia ($6), which comes the option of a green garlic bagna cauda dipping sauce (uh-huh) or cultured butter (each $3). Vegetables and light fish dishes round out the starters, plus a spring lamb tartare ($16). Everything comes on ceramics from Mary Mar Keenan, and the focaccia’s claypot dish was custom made.

Pasta lovers will be thrilled with the entire column of housemade pastas on the menu, from tortellini in brodo (stuffed with smoked duck) to the downright springy cappellacci in whey, with English peas, mint, green garlic, and sheep’s milk ricotta (both $17). Mains include striped bass ($34) with wild ramps, roasted artichokes, cauliflower, and the perfume of saffron, while meat lovers will find a dry-aged duck for two ($85), brightened with accents of fennel pollen and kumquat. Desserts continue to hit the seasonal notes, like a bright strawberry number with elderflower, black pepper, and white chocolate.

You’re in great hands with wine pairings from beverage director Samuel Bogue (wine director for the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group), from crowd-pleasers to some more esoteric selections (this is a great place to play and explore). You’ll also find some low-ABV/aperitif-style cocktails—perfect to enjoy at the bar along with some bites.

The space is welcoming and chic, from the eight-seat marble bar at the front with ribbons of green in it, to the blue-gray palette, and natural light coming in from the skylights. Down the center of the room are two walnut slab tables (by Ben O’Hearn at Modern Millwork), with large suspended planter boxes overhead and teardrop globe lights hand-blown by Guido Gerlitz at Effetto Glassworks. If you’re on date night, you’ll want one of the small tables that run along the blue-gray banquette (there are 50 seats in all). I loved the chairs, which are as stylin’ as they are comfortable, and the table setting is elegant and well-chosen, from the stemware to the flatware.

You can take a peek into the exposed kitchen in the back, and the private dining room has room for 16, with bold artwork, more globe lights, and a record player, so make yourself at home. You’ll notice the music in the restaurant is a bit upbeat, and the service style is professional but relaxed—you’re supposed to enjoy yourself. And you will.

Open for dinner Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon.


The iconic facade at Boogaloos. Photo via Facebook.

A faithful tablehopper reader (thanks, Mike! sent me the news that ~BOOGALOOS~ is finally reopening this Wednesday April 18th, after an extended closure (they’ve been remodeling) and then there was a fire and some lease drama last year that fortunately took a turn for the good. Boogaloos has been with us since 1994, welcome back! The Temple of Spuds triumphantly returns!

You can read their happy note in the window here, which also mentions their pop-up at Parada 22 in the Haight during the week is no more, but they will be continuing to offer it on the weekends (9am-3pm). 3296 22nd St. at Valencia.


The mezze sampler at Dyafa, with fresh-baked pita. Photo courtesy of Dyafa.


One of the tortas available at Comal Next Door. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

Great news: Reem Assil (of Reem’s California) has opened ~DYAFA~ for lunch service in the former Haven at Jack London Square in Oakland (dinner will be coming later). To recap, the La Cocina graduate is working with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group on this, her second restaurant.

The name, which means “hospitality” in Arabic, is an homage to how she grew up eating in her Palestinian-Syrian home. At lunch, you’ll find shareable snacks, dips, grain bowls, and salads, plus flatbread wraps that use the signature bread from Reem’s California, which is baked on the saj (a traditional convex griddle used to bake bread). You can survey the menu, which also includes cocktails (featuring Middle Eastern ingredients and flavors), refreshing drinks for daytime, wine, and beer selected by beverage director Aaron Paul.

The 105-seat space features lots of tile, greenery, and colorful ceramic plates. The restaurant also participates in ROC Restaurant Opportunities Center United’s racial equity program. Lunch is served Tue-Fri 11am-2pm. This Saturday April 21st, there’s a fundraiser evening event for The Cooking Project—enjoy appetizers, cocktail tastes, and more. 44 Webster St. at Water, Oakland, 510-250-9491.

Now open next door to ~COMAL~ in Berkely is, wait for it, ~COMAL NEXT DOOR~, a casual taqueria serving burritos​, ​bowls​, ​tacos​, and ​three kinds of tortas​. There’s Berkshire pork carnitas or al pastor (may I have both?), plus beef barbacoa, achiote-grilled chicken, chile relleno, and more. There are 20 seats, or you can take your food to go. Bonus: two daily rotating ​aguas frescas will be available, in addition to ​frozen margaritas and ​beer. It’s conveniently open all day Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. 2024 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley, 510-42-COMAL.


This Thursday April 19th (1:30pm-3:30pm), Jacques Pépin will be at Market Hall Foods at Rockridge Market Hall for a book signing, conversation, and tasting for his books, Poulets & Légumes: My Favorite Chicken & Vegetable Recipes and A Grandfather’s Lessons.

This Saturday April 21st is Kermit Lynch Oyster Bliss, retuning after seven years.

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