October 25, 2022

October 25, 2022
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A look at Delfina’s new dining room. Photo: Albert Law.

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A section of Delfina’s new private dining room. Photo: Albert Law.

Back in 2021, I remember running into Delfina chef-partner Craig Stoll at an event, and he was telling me about the big changes he and his wife Annie were making to ~DELFINA~ in response to the extra-challenging business conditions in SF (and it was time for the well-loved restaurant to have an update). After closing Locanda in the beginning of the pandemic, they transferred the liquor license over, and decided to consolidate Delfina’s space and the skinny Pizzeria Delfina (I remember when it was Krims Krams Palace of Fine Junk!) into one. Sounded like a genius move to me: cocktails, pasta, pizza, more seats, updated décor, a new private dining room, yes! And boy, did they do it right.

The space is quite gorgeous, complimenti to Sarah Fucinaro (Fucinaro Architecture), Roy Hospitality, and Cookline on the oh-so-stylish update. I was sorry to be out of town for their open house party on Sunday, so I could see it with my own eyes, but take a look at this piece in Eater for some pics, design details, and the menu (which includes a couple pizzas, but note the rest are to go). It’s wonderful to see this iconic SF restaurant have a grand makeover one year ahead of their 25th anniversary. Auguri!

Delfina is reopening this Wednesday October 26th, serving dinner Wed-Mon starting at 5:30pm (5pm on Sundays). Aperitivo Hour (featuring an inventive spritz menu from Colin Gallagher, with complimentary bites like cacio e pepe potato chips, arancini, and more) will be Mon and Wed-Fri 5pm-6pm. 3621 18th St. at Guerrero.

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Welcome to Nob Hill, Ciccino. Photo courtesy of GianMarco Cosmi.

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Exterior of the new Ciccino in Nob Hill. Photo: Rebecca Kinney.

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Back to Back is open in the former Venticello space on Nob Hill. Photo courtesy of Back to Back.

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The cheerful patio at Rosemary & Pine. Photo: Joseph Weaver.

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Grilled otak-otak (spiced coconut fish cake grilled in banana leaves) at Damansara. Photo: Aron Pruiett.

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Dashi-based ramen at the new Hinodeya Ramen. Yelp photo by Keiko N.

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A photo of some of the AYCE dishes you can order at the new Zajang Grill. Photo courtesy of Zajang Grill.

You ready for your dream Italian brunch/lunch menu? Check out the goods at the newly open ~CICCINO~ in Nob Hill, from Italian Homemade Company’s GianMarco Cosmi. He was the opening chef there for five years (working with his brother, Mattia), and during the pandemic, he was at Rich Table and Acquerello. At Ciccino, he wants to represent the way Italians really eat, and feature some dishes from his home region of Emilia-Romagna, with local and seasonal ingredients.

The menu here has a touch of upscale ingredients on it, like the caviar on the spaghetto freddo. There are a few fried dishes (fritto misto, pork cutlet, cod) and some cold dishes, like steak tartare and a halibut crudo, as well as seafood skewers (scallop, squid, shrimp) grilled on binchotan charcoal. The passatelli sound amazzzzzzing (breadcrumb, egg, and Parmesan pasta, with porcini mushrooms and a balsamic reduction). Ravioli carbonara, sign me up. He will eventually add a tasting menu in six months or so.

Ciccino opened in the former Thai Thai Noodle—Cosmi’s wife, Lynsey Rose, is behind the redesign. You’ll note some copper elements that Cosmi made and installed, an homage to his family of plumbers. As for the name Ciccino, it all started with his grandfather, who was nicknamed “magna ciccia” over the steak sandwiches he’d bring to work (ciccio is an affectionate term for fat). The name stuck with Cosmi’s father, and brothers/sons GianMarco and Mattia were called “ciccino” (little ciccio) in their youth.

Since their beer and wine license won’t arrive for a few more weeks, he’s starting with lunch/brunch Wed-Fri 11am-3:30pm and Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. He’s planning to offer some Fri-Sat dinner service very soon, check their Google or Yelp page for updates. I’ll keep you posted on when full dinner service begins and the wine is on the shelves. Cin cin! 1400 California St. at Hyde.

I broke the news earlier this year about the wood-fired pizza, natural wine, and hi-fi vinyl bar opening in the former Venticello, ~BACK TO BACK~, from siblings Monica and Randall Hom, and thanks to a reader, I learned they are softly open right now. Take a peek at the soft-opening menu here from chef Stephen Chan—it’s the perfect season for braised short ribs, and the 12-inch pizzas sound savory and built for wine. Speaking of, Louisa Smith, the talented wine director of Turntable at Lord Stanley, helped with their list—you’ll find 10 by the glass and 57 bottles of juice to choose from.

They’ve been offering limited pizza service through their to-go window, and now they’re taking reservations for their expanded soft opening this week, Wed-Sat 5pm-8:30pm. They’ll have limited bar seating for walk-ins. 1257 Taylor St. at Washington.

Now open in the Design District/Showplace Square is ~ROSEMARY & PINE~ from the Omakase Restaurant Group (Niku Steakhouse, Omakase, Dumpling Time) in the former Skool. Chef Dustin Falcon’s menu is a departure from the group’s Asian concepts and here is modern American, with some Italian American dishes inspired by his youth. He is still the chef at Niku, and previously worked at Lazy Bear, The French Laundry, and The Corner.

There are house-baked breads like focaccia and flatbreads; creative pastas like tortellini americana (bologna, tennessee ham, vella dry jack cheese); slow-braised and woodstone oven-cooked meats, seafood, and a great-looking, crispy bone-in veal chop, with tomato, crushed garlic, mozzarella, and basil. Check the menus on their site—there’s also brunch and lunch, with late-night bar dining. Cocktails from Michael Hart (Spin, 25 Lusk) are also seasonally driven, and the wine and beer lists are exclusively Californian. Enjoy the sunny and spacious patio while you can—the interior was redesigned by Aya Yanagisawa. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, brunch Sat-Sun 10am-2pm, dinner Thu-Sun 5pm-9:30pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm (cocktail hour: 4pm-closing). 1725 Alameda St. at Rhode Island.

Over in Hayes Valley, ~LOQUAT~ has opened in the former 20th Century Cafe. As previously mentioned in tablehopper, this daytime bakery and (eventual) evening wine bar is from Tal Mor and Jodi Geren, partners in The Mill and Four Barrel Coffee.

The Chronicle reported they teamed up with former pastry chef Kristina Costa from Tartine Bakery, who is making “baked goods inspired by the Jewish diaspora and Levantine flavors,” from laminated cinnamon-date babka to savory bourekas (like fried sage and Double 8 Dairy ricotta, and potato baharat and caramelized onion), pistachio cookies, and labne cheesecake with honey-roasted figs and orange blossoms. If you look at their Instagram Stories and Highlights, you’ll see some beautiful creations. There will also be pantry items for sale. Open Thu-Fri and Mon starting at 7am, Sat-Sun at 8am, closed Tue-Wed. 198 Gough St. at Oak.

I’ve been tracking the opening of chef-owner Tracy Goh’s ~DAMANSARA~ in Noe Valley, and she just opened her first brick-and-mortar, 48-seat Malaysian restaurant on October 19th. The name refers to her hometown of Damansara Utama, near Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur—she moved to San Francisco for work in 2012. After hosting pop-ups and dinner parties, she was accepted in La Cocina’s food business incubator program in 2019.

Her edited menu features Malaysian street-style dishes like grilled otak-otak (spiced coconut fish cake grilled in banana leaves); cereal fried chicken (fried chicken topped with salted egg sauce and savory cereal) that comes with her nasi lemak coconut milk rice plate (or you can choose sambal calamari or beef rendang); and Damansara laksa, with more than 24 ingredients. Pics of the dishes on Yelp look fantastic. There are also vegan dishes, local wine and beer, and sake and soju cocktails. Dinner service is Wed-Sun 5pm-10pm, but the team was a bit overwhelmed last week and decided to close this Wed and Thu to catch their breath and regroup. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.

~HINODEYA RAMEN BAR~ just opened their third SF location—this time it’s in Union Square, and open late! Like, 2am nightly late! YAY. They’re known for their house ramen with a traditional Japanese dashi-style soup made from bonito, kombu, and scallop, served with whole wheat noodles. (They also offer spicy miso, hamaguri clam ramen, and a vegan ramen.) Open daily 7am-2am. I know, those are some crazy hours, let’s support them so we have late-night ramen. 219 O’Farrell St. at Powell.

Over in the Inner Richmond is a new AYCE Korean BBQ spot called ~ZAJANG GRILL~ that opened in the former Carbon Grill. For $40.99, you have 90 minutes to make your way through the menu of ready-to-eat appetizers and items you’ll grill at your table (like calamari, river prawns, kalbi short ribs, spicy pork belly)—go with a group in order to be able to try more items. You’ll order via your phone with a QR code, so make sure it’s charged. Open nightly 5pm-11pm. 852 Clement St. at 10th Ave.

Coming to Rincon Center in early November is another location of ~NICK THE GREEK~—there’s one in Daly City and another in South San Francisco, plus other locations around the Bay Area. Known for their gyros and souvlaki, they also make plates, burgers, bowls, salads, and sides. Look for an opening in early November. 121 Spear St. at Howard.

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Exterior of Leopold’s. Photo by Daniel Azarkman.

Earlier this month, an eagle-eyed tablehopper reader let me know there was a public notice in the window for an alcohol license at the former ~LEOPOLD’S~, and sure enough, an ABC license type 41 (beer and wine—eating place) is pending, listing Michael Lamina and Carla Anne Suntjeans. Lamina was formerly a chef at Leopold’s (I have been a fan of his charcuterie since his days at Cav Wine Bar, and he was the chef at Taps). In this SFGATE piece, Lamina confirms they’re trying to relaunch the restaurant, originally opened by Albert and Rainer Klaus back in 2011 (Lamina was the opening chef). Stand by for updates in coming months. 2400 Polk St. at Union.

It looks like The Handroll Project has unleashed a local sushi trend: Yonsei Handrolls opened in Uptown Oakland earlier this month, and now Saru Sushi Bar’s second location in Russian Hill is reopening as ~SARU HANDROLL BAR~—they are targeting the second week of November for the opening. It was originally the Kinjo space, and then Saru took it over in September 2020, but then they closed in May 2021 for renovations. Saru Sushi Bar in Noe Valley will remain the same. I’ll share more details and a menu when they’re about to open. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.

Great news for residents of Russian Hill and Polk Gulch: ~BI-RITE MARKET~ is taking over the Real Foods Co. location on Polk. According to a press release, “The location has been a neighborhood staple since 1976 and Bi-Rite is excited to honor the legacy of Kimball and Jane Allen, Real Foods Co. founders, by continuing to ensure the community has access to fresh, delicious, nourishing food from socially responsible farmers, ranchers, and makers.” They’ll take over the space in early 2023—Steffan Morin, a 16-year Bi-Rite veteran and most recently general manager of Bi-Rite Market 18th Street, will become general manager, and they will offer paid training to the staff at Real Foods Co. and shifts at other Bi-Rite Markets. This will be Bi-Rite’s third neighborhood grocery store. 2140 Polk St. at Vallejo.

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A Martini at The Piano Bar at The Vault Steakhouse. Photo courtesy of The Vault Steakhouse.

A couple new additions for you: ~AZIZA~ is now open for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am to 2pm. Dishes include Moroccan-inspired twists on brunch classics, including saffron beghir (Moroccan semolina pancakes) with raw honey and sea salt smen, bee pollen, and citrus water honey; shakshuka; soft-boiled Jidori eggs; fire-grilled prawns and Anson Mills polenta with red charmoula, harissa, black garlic; and more. They also have a specialized brunch cocktail menu, with three different bloody Marys, three different spritzes, and other choices. 5800 Geary Blvd. at 22nd Ave.

Downtown, the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group has debuted The Piano Bar as an extension of ~THE VAULT STEAKHOUSE~. There’s a new happy hour menu with live music and $10 cocktails (including a classic Martini, Manhattan, and Old-Fashioned, as well as a contemporary Sherry Negroni and French 75), available Tue-Sat 4pm-6pm, with live music 5pm-9pm. There are also fun modern interpretations of throwback dishes, like shrimp cocktail, potato pave tots with smoked trout roe, and prime rib sliders with caramelized onions. Order the “Afternoon Delight” for a tower of chef-selected items. 555 California St. at Kearny.

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The dining room at Padrecito. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

Some unfortunate closures include the upcoming shuttering of ~OLD DEVIL MOON~, after six years of hospitality and good times in Bernal—their last day is Saturday November 19th. You can read their farewell note here and more in this follow-up from SFGATE—they’d love to see you for some final pints and po’boys. 3472 Mission St. at Cortland.

Over in Cole Valley, ~PADRECITO~ abruptly closed after almost 10 years in the neighborhood. SFGATE shared excerpts from owner Nate Valentine’s post in a neighborhood Facebook group: “It’s is a story of the economics not working for Padrecito in this new restaurant climate.” At least it wasn’t the story of a lousy landlord raising the rent or squeezing them out. But the rising cost of doing business in SF is going to continue to negatively impact the viability of casual neighborhood spots, even for seasoned operators. It’s hard to watch. 901 Cole St. at Carl.

Hoodline has the story on the closure of longtime Cow Hollow sandwich shop ~MARINA SUB~. The beloved owner Q is retiring after 36 years (!)—the new owners are reportedly keeping some things in place, but adding some new items as well. No word if the name will remain the same. 2299 Union St. at Steiner.

The founders of Boba Guys are once again embroiled in a conflict with their employees—this time, Mission Local reported management drastically reduced the flagship Mission store’s workers’ hours and reportedly have been suspending and firing employees who have retaliated and/or shared information about unionizing. There’s more in this piece in The Chronicle. The Mission shop is closed for now. Clean up in aisle seven! 3491 19th St. at Valencia.