November 8, 2022

November 8, 2022
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(At Akiko’s.) Chef-owner Ray Lee always sources the most sublime uni. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Aloha. The first thing you’ll see at Liholiho Yacht Club. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Roman-style pinsa and plenty of Italian wine await at Pinsa Rossa on Fillmore Street. Photo courtesy of Ken Lowe.

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Duck glazed in honey with figs, Jerusalem artichoke, tonka bean at the new Gilda’s Salon at the Proper. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I’ve been avidly watching the Instagram account of Ray Lee of Akiko’s, one of my top top sushi bars in SF (sidebar: I’m super-excited for their upcoming reopening in a brand-new location later this year on Avery Lane on Folsom, more on that soon), but in the meantime, it looks like his exclusive, 10-seat omakase counter ~FRIENDS ONLY~ is currently and softly open. (Check out some Instagram Stories here, the seafood selections are exquisite!)

Back in August, Eater reported on this project coming to Lower Nob Hill that was going to serve as Lee’s R&D kitchen for Akiko’s, serving four nights a week. The omakase menu highlights an aging program of top-quality seafood from Japan, with cocktails and vintage Champagnes and more. I’m thrilled to be checking it out this week, stand by for details from me on this exciting project. Welcome back, Ray and team. 1501 California St. at Larkin.

I was happy to receive an invite to the reopening of ~LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB~ this month, which many folks have been eagerly anticipating since the restaurant has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. It reopens November 22nd, with some light updates to the space and menu, here’s a look at what’s coming: [The Chronicle]

Fabulous tablehopper media researcher Rebecca tipped me off that ~PINSA ROSSA~, the new place from Ken Lowe of Ace Wasabi Sushi that I mentioned was opening in the former Santino’s Vino (previously Dino’s) is now open! He has been working with the Santino’s team to get this new Roman pinseria concept open; the chef is Leo Cugnata, who previously worked at Montesacro and Gusto Pinsa Romana.

The menu includes 16 kinds of pinsa (!), including prosciutto and stracciatella di burrata, carbonara, and an Italian sausage and potato pinsa. Of course, I’m curious about the Calabrian Cotto (smoked scamorza cheese, prosciutto cotto, shredded mozzarella, Calabrian chile spread, fresh parsley). The dough features a high-protein blend of rice, soy, and wheat flours, which comes out airy, crisp, lighter on gluten, and is therefore easier for some to digest (we have Montesacro to thank for educating us on this style). There are also some antipasti, salads, and a couple pasta dishes (lasagne bolognese and gnocchi). The wine list is primarily Italian, with a few Californian and Greek selections (yamas, Dino!). Open Tue-Thu 4:3pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-10pm, Sun 4pm-9pm. 2101 Fillmore St. at California.

Opening this Thursday November 10th on Broadway in North Beach (many years ago, it was the former Vanessi’s) is ~KEYS JAZZ BISTRO~ from jazz educator, pianist, and co-owner Dr. Simon Rowe, as well as co-owner Matt Mullenweg (who co-founded WordPress!) and Eric Vance will oversee general operations. “Keys” will present music and dinner four nights a week, with two sets and two seatings, and three sets on Fridays and Saturdays. A casual, seasonal menu with signature cocktails and non-alcoholic options will be available. The 4,000-square-foot space will seat 125, and features a state-of-the-art sound system, a Yamaha Concert grand piano, and a resident Hammond B3 organ. Check out their opening lineup and make a reservation for a night on the town with some live jazz. 498 Broadway at Kearny.  

Was happy to see plant-based Italian restaurant ~BAIA~ in Hayes Valley is reopening on November 16th after suffering damage from a fire that was started by an arsonist back in August.

I’m going to be posting pics about this very soon at @tablehopper on Instagram, but in case you’re looking for the perfect private room for a group dinner, or an exciting communal dinner experience with strangers on Fridays, check out the new Gilda’s Salon Dinners at the Proper Hotel.

Chef Jason Fox has crafted an 11-course tasting menu ($220) that is served in Proper’s glam private salon, Gilda’s. The textured room is simply gorgeous, with wallpaper and vintage furnishings and sexy lighting from style queen Kelly Wearstler. (I was beyond obsessed with the Eastern European china.) Chef Fox’s love of Japanese cuisine and seafood really shines, with seasonal dishes like Mendocino sea urchin with sesame tofu and dashi; Japanese firefly squid kissed over the coals; and sweetbreads cooked in beeswax with chestnut and truffles. And the wine pairings ($100) are so fabulous. The whole experience will make you swoon, for many reasons, so be sure you take a cab. 10 seats. Fridays only (for now), 7pm. San Francisco Proper Hotel, 1100 Market St.

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Upstairs at Zero Zero; photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

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Look what you can get for lunch from Zero Zero: housemade casareccia pasta with prosciutto, Grana Padano, arugula, Straus butter, and bread crumbs. Photo via Facebook.

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The exterior of Manresa (2015). Photo by Nick Vasilopoulos.

I hate writing about every single restaurant closure, but some are definitely tough when it’s an operator you really admire and respect. In this case, it’s the one and only Bruce Hill, who’s closing the trail- (and wood-) blazing ~ZERO ZERO~ in SoMa after 12 years of business. The “Calipolitan” pizzas that came out of Hill’s wood-fired Mugnaini oven were part of the early wood-fired pizza wave in SF, and his soft-serve ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sea salt was also new to our culinary scene (he pioneered that one back in 2005). Zero Zero was a great neighborhood restaurant and the perfect answer when you wanted a cocktail and a seasonal salad and hearty bowl of pasta for dinner.

As we all know, the pandemic has been particularly rough on SoMa—no convention business and no office workers coming by for techy lunches and dinners and drinks made things extremely challenging, and delivery and frozen pizzas were not going to make up for it. It has been a tough decision after fighting so hard to keep going, but it was time to call it. Hill has retained employees for ten years and more, including his chef Jose Canto, who has been there since day one. Hill will continue as executive chef/partner at Bix, and his Chef’s Press is also keeping him busy. In case you’re on the hunt for a space, there are eight years on the lease—Hill is looking for a buyer.

Come by for a final pie and stoner garlic bread and goodbye this week. The last service will be Saturday November 12th. Sending them off with a great week of sales would be nice—you can book a reservation on Tock. Best wishes and thanks to the team for all the tasty carbs (and Negronis).

Over in Los Gatos: I received word that chef David Kinch and the ~MANRESA~ team have announced their final month of service will be December, closing out this singular restaurant’s 20-year-run on New Year’s Eve. December reservations will be released at 12am midnight (Pacific time) on November 14th on Tock. Manresa’s signature tasting menu ($595 tasting menu; $255 optional wine pairings) “will change and showcase in high style the expertise and dedication amassed over the past 20 years.” (Time for one last Into the Vegetable Garden.) On New Year’s Eve—Manresa’s final night of service—the “no-holds-barred menu” will be $725, with $325 optional wine pairings. That is going to be quite a night! In 2023, you’ll still be able to see Kinch at The Bywater, Mentone, and Manresa Bread (from founder and head baker Avery Ruzicka). Congrats on such a great run.

SF Standard broke the news that ~SEVEN STILLS BREWERY AND DISTILLERY~ has closed three years after opening their massive space in Dogpatch. Such tough timing on that one.

SFGate reports on the closure of ~PLOY II THAI CUISINE~ in the Haight, after 33 years.

I saw a post on Nextdoor that old-timer ~EXTREME PIZZA~ on Fillmore Street has closed after 28 years at that location. Other locations remain open.