April 30, 2019

April 30, 2019

A look at Che Fico Alimentari’s dining room. Photo: Ed Anderson.


Rigatoni all’amatriciana at Che Fico Alimentari. Photo: Ed Anderson.


The cozy alimentari-meets-wine bar style of the dining room. Photo: Ed Anderson.

Opening tonight, Tuesday April 30th, is ~CHE FICO ALIMENTARI~, from partners David Nayfeld, Angela Pinkerton, and Matt Brewer, below their wildly popular Che Fico in the short-lived Theorita space. Anyone who has been fortunate to dine at Roscioli in Rome is going to be reminded of it here (it’s a market and deli that you dine in the middle of, just next to packed shelves and deli cases, and feast on some of the best pasta of your life).

Chef David Nayfeld is serving pasta dishes using Pastificio Gentile (imported, dried pasta from Italy), different from the handmade pasta upstairs. You’ll find bucatini cacio e pepe, rigatoni all’amatriciana (my favorite pasta on this earth), and spaghetti ragù alla napoletana.

The enoteca style will also mean there will be all kinds of antipasti, including salumi (both housemade and imported), cheeses (including mozzarella accompanied by a variety of toppings, like olive oil-cured anchovy, prosciutto di San Daniele, caviar, or truffle), a daily bruschetta, wild mushroom conserva, and as a nod to Nayfeld’s past time in Rome, carciofi brasati (braised artichokes). There will also be seafood dishes (clams and ‘nduja, or Santa Barbara prawn scampi), and larger secondi, like swordfish a la siciliana, braised short ribs with Tierra Farms polenta, horseradish, gremolata, and nebbiolo jus; and suckling pig with roasted potato and English peas.

You’ll be pairing your bites or meal with (mostly) Italian wines selected by wine director Francesca Maniace, whose background includes working with Shelley Lindgren at A16 and Francesco Grosso at Marea (New York). She has built a list representing many of the twenty regions of Italy, with a focus on Piedmont, Tuscany, and Sicily, and with more than 200 selections to start, from the affordable to rare collector’s bottles. (There are also Champagnes to choose from.) You can try wines by the glass and quartino, and look for some special bottles that can only be found at the restaurant. Wine tastings and winemaker dinners will also be happening.

While people miss partner and pastry chef Angela Pinkerton’s pies, she’s been busy developing a program of house-baked breads (including focaccia with whipped mascarpone and Ligurian olive oil). Bring on the ciabatta with Tuscan “butter.” Desserts include housemade gelati and sorbetti, and seasonal treats like cannoli, and a napoleon with strawberries, basil, and Heilala vanilla.

Jon de la Cruz of DLC ID is behind the cozy design, and like upstairs, you’ll note their signature red, more custom wallpaper (while the figs were amazing, this one features various kinds of salumi), weathered oak flooring, and plenty of products you’ll want to bring home, including olive oils, vinegars, dried pastas, flour, grains, spices, and herbs, plus 200 wines.

The open kitchen in the front has a 12-seat counter, plus there are high tables with bar stools; further back are red-striped velvet banquettes and regular dining tables. Up front at the counter, you’ll also be able to purchase Che Fico’s housemade salumi, local and Italian cheeses, housemade antipasti, loaves of fresh breads, cannoli, tiramisù by the slice, gelati, and sorbetti by the scoop, and Che Fico’s signature chocolate bars. Throwing a party? You can also pre-order a full tray of lasagna (call me), roasted porchetta, and more.

Open for dinner Tue-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 834 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-416-6980.


Welcome to the newly refreshed deck at Sam’s Anchor Cafe. Photo: Albert Law.


Yes, the lobster roll at Sam’s has arugula in it. But we’re in California and we do what we want. Photo: Albert Law.


The front bar at Sam’s is the kind you’ll want to belly up to. Photo: Albert Law.


The handsome and classic nautical design of the main dining room. Photo: Albert Law.


Booths and the subterranean style of The Vault. Photo: Kevin McCullough.


The bar and lounge area at The Vault. Photo: Kevin McCullough.


Singing pink bay scallop crudo (with roe, togarashi, radish, lemon). Photo: Kevin McCullough.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw all the pics of the newly renovated and updated ~SAM’S ANCHOR CAFE~ in Tiburon, and it really is a looker. Nothing like getting a big facelift at 99!

Redesigned by ROY (Hannah and Emily Collins) in an unheard of six weeks, you’ll find a classic nautical style that reminded me a bit of being at Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe, but with fab terrazzo floors (with an original brass inlay from 1920), chic seating, an exposed and original, old-growth redwood ceiling, and get this: the outdoor bench seating on the deck is heated (by Galanter & Jones)! Magic. Living up to its rep as “the most non-exclusive yacht club on the bay.”

The refreshed menu includes an extensive raw bar (oysters on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, poke, ceviche), plus an awesome fried rockfish taco, a Maine lobster roll (with thick-cut ranch kettle chips), Dungeness crab meat, and San Francisco sand dabs with mussels, new potatoes, asparagus, and sherry cream. If you want to skip the seafood, there’s also their signature burger (with fontal cheese) and Champagne (a pairing for $25).

They also revamped the cocktail menu, now with sharable punch bowls for two or more, such as the Aperol Spritzer with Aperol, grapefruit, and sparkling wine. On the next sunny day, this is where you want to be hanging out. Take a ferry over and enjoy. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-12am, Fri 11:30am-12am, Sat-Sun 10am-12am. 27 Main St., Tiburon, 415-435-4527.

The Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group (Trestle, Corridor, Fat Angel) has opened ~THE VAULT~ in FiDi, in the former bank vault at the base of 555 California Street, previously known as the Bank of America Center. Unlike their more-casual establishments, this one is more about fine dining, with executive chef Robin Song at the helm.

The Cali-American menu looks appetizing, with dishes like an abundant raw platter (perfect for expense-account meals), Riverdog Gem Caesar salad with pecorino, anchovy, and sourdough crumble; beef tartare with smoked egg yolk, cornichon, and shallots; Comtè-stuffed tortelloni with rye pasta, chanterelle mushrooms, and chervil pistou; and slow-cooked wagyu beef shortrib with pommes raclette, Swiss chard, and cornichons. I’m also glad Song brought over his killer bread service from Gibson, this time with Parker House rolls. Pastry chef Tara Lewis is creating desserts like a chocolate lava tart with stout-marshmallow ice cream, blackberry, and tahini caramel.   There’s a bar and lounge with cocktails from bar lead Tyler Groom, some great-sounding bar snacks (kimchi-spiced almonds, or seafood fritters with gochujang and nori salt), and of course there’s a list of baller wines. The building has more than 5,000 employees at companies like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Microsoft, and tenants have exclusive access to private wine and liquor lockers to store their favorite bottles. It’s like a sequel to Bonfire of the Vanities.

The subterranean space was designed by D-Scheme Studio and has room for 215 guests, with plenty of booths and a private dining space that seats up to 25. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, there’s a bar menu in the afternoon, martini happy hour 4pm-6pm, and dinner service begins at 5pm. Sat dinner starts at 5pm. 555 California St. at Kearny, 415-508-4675. 

I was so happy to see that ~BINI’S KITCHEN~ is now open, serving La Cocina grad Binita Pradhan’s famed Nepalese momos. Also on the menu: a Nepalese burrito (with chicken, pork, or kwati: five-bean Nepalese chili), and a choose-your-own plate with some of her awesome curries and momos on the side. Yes to all of it. She has come a long way, and worked so hard for this, her first brick and mortar. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. Take a peek at some pics over on Eater. 1001 Howard St. at 6th St. [Via Chronicle.]

Also in SoMa: I’ve been driving by ~FALAFELLAND~ on 6th Street and it looks pretty dang good on Yelp. The Yemeni owner is also making kabsa rice plates with lamb shank or chicken (and sandwiches), soup, and housemade sauces. Check it out—I’m going to! 133 6th St. at Natoma.

Dumpling lovers will be pleased to know ~DUMPLING KITCHEN~ has reopened in Parkside, but under new ownership, so no idea how their XLB and pan-fried Shanghai buns stack up against the former ones. The space was remodeled, and now they take credit cards! (Closed Wed.) 1935 Taraval St. at 30th Ave., 415-682-8938. [Via Eater.]



The talented and stunning Heena Patel at the friends and family party for her new restaurant, Besharam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some fast bites:

Heena Patel of ~BESHARAM~ at Minnesota Street Project has parted ways with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group (a mutual decision) and has assumed full operational control of the restaurant. She will be making some changes to the concept, becoming more family-friendly in format, plus some other tweaks. She will also be launching an all-day chai service (Tue-Sat 11am-5pm), featuring her housemade chai and Gujurati snacks. Expect the new version to launch in July 2019.

I was sorry to read that ~COMMONWEALTH~’s Mission location is in jeopardy due to a rent hike (er, it’s doubling) and some lousy lease terms when chef-partner Jason Fox’s lease comes up in September. According to Eater, they may be able to find another location—they hope to remain in the neighborhood. And they have certainly given back to the city, raising more than $400K over the past nine years for charities through their tasting menu donations. Here’s hoping for some good news for their good karma.

After reporting on the upcoming ~HASHIDA~ in Union Square, it ends up they are no longer opening in SF. A tablehopper reader received this email: “We regret to inform you that Hashida Sushi San Francisco is no longer opening due to some uncontrollable matter.” Then update your social media and say so, Hashida. 125 Ellis St. at Cyril Magnin.

It also looks like ~ALLEGRO ROMANO~ is back open after their temporary closure (there was a notice of suspension). 1701 Jones St. at Broadway.

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