Release the Jamón: Bellota Opens in SoMa

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Sneak peek at Bellota’s booths. Photo via Facebook.

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A preview look at the wraparound bar, complete with sherry barrels and lamps by Wastberg Designer Lamps. Photo via Facebook.

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One of the four paellas. Photo via Facebook.

The latest (and sixth) project from The Absinthe Group has been a long time coming, but ~BELLOTA~ is finally opening its doors this Wednesday May 25th. The Spanish-themed SoMa restaurant is opening in 888 Brannan (aka the Airbnb building), and here’s a little factoid for you: it’s the first public restaurant in a building on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s a spacious one, currently clocking in at 170 seats, with capacity for 210.

Chef Ryan McIlwraith was previously chef de cuisine at Coqueta, and he has put together a menu of imported charcuterie and cheeses from Spain. There’s also a fun spin on a seafood tower, which comes with some land-based bites, like grass-fed beef with oyster escabeche, harissa, and benne. Tapas get a creative upgrade, like a creamy clam and sea urchin fritter with pickled ramp and seaweed powder, or a raw sugar snap pea and tendril dish, with queso fresco dressing and cashew dukkah. There are four paellas, and there’s a wood-fired plancha, grill, and oven, too, with dishes like slow-roasted, Moorish-spiced lamb, flatbread, ember-roasted eggplant, hearth-baked bean, and cherry vinagreta. Take a look at the opening menu. Desserts are from Stephanie Kimura.

Of course, with Jonny Raglin—the director of bars for The Absinthe Group and co­-creator of Comstock Saloon—at the helm, you know the cocktails are going to rock. Bar manager Collin Nicholas is overseeing the team and cocktails; expect plenty of sherries, dry cider, sangria, and Spanish ­style “gintonic.” Absinthe Group’s wine director, Ian Becker, has assembled an exclusively Spanish wine list (200 selections!), from small producers to classics.

Sagan Piechota Architecture (Boxing Room) is behind the design, working with design and furnishing adviser Kendall Wilkinson Design. The 5,300-foot-space includes Costa Brava blue leather chairs and booths, California bay laurel tabletops and counters, a jaw-dropping jamón display (want. all. the. hams.), Moorish light pendants and brass table ­lamps, and seating around the open kitchen. There’s a private dining room with space for 40 as well. Diners will enjoy the custom tableware, which comes from Jered’s Pottery and Mary Mar Keenan Tableware.

Some unexpected entertainment includes live lounge performances, and there’s even a baby grand piano! The restaurant is also tricked out with a Constellation sound system from Berkeley­-based Meyer Sound.

The restauranat is open for dinner Mon-Sat to start; lunch is coming later. 888 Brannan St. at 8th St., 415-430­-6580.