June 6, 2006

Sandwiched right in between Aqua and Tadich Grill will be ~PERBACCO~, a restaurant project from Staffan Terje, the former executive chef at Scala's (he was there for eight years), and Umberto Gibin, a former director of operations at Grand Café, Masa's, and Fifth Floor (from 1999-2004), who also worked for Larry Mindel while at Il Fornaio and the fab Poggio in Sausalito. Demolition started in November, and they just got approval to move ahead with construction only a couple weeks ago. The 6,000-square-foot restaurant was formerly the home of the Gold Coast restaurant, and is known as the historic 1912 Hind Building. Cass Calder Smith (Azie, LuLu, Rose Pistola, Terzo) is currently transforming the long, narrow space. The restaurant will have two levels, including a curing room in the basement for salumi like their house-made prosciutto. In fact, one of the first things you'll notice upon entering Perbacco will be a cherry-red Berkel slicer gracing the bar. Those Berkels are like parking an Alfa Romeo on the bar—totally gorgeous.

The seasonal menu will be focused primarily on the northern Piedmontese region, a mountainous area of Italy that integrates numerous French influences in its luxurious cuisine, which is often embellished with truffles and porcini mushrooms. It's also the region known for two of the biggest wine beasts, Barolo and Barbaresco. The menu will also include dishes from Liguria and Savoy. Appetizers will feature some crudos (this is where the menu will depart a little from the Piedmontese area), homemade stuffed pastas like ravioli and angolotti, and classic regional dishes like brasato (braised beef in Barolo) and bollito misto (a boiled medley of meat). The restaurant will have a hip urban look while still keeping a foot planted in the Old World, with touches like an original brick wall hat was retained, marble, plus a carpeted floor (it will help diminish noise). There will be a bar area with room for 40 in booths and at the bar, while the dining area can seat 100-110, including the mezzanine. There will also be room for 40 in the private dining area, plus an open kitchen in the back. For those wondering about the name, it's an Italian expression, Per Bacco!, which is simultaneously a positive affirmation, and a salute to the beloved Bacchus. The plan is for a September 1 opening, serving lunch Mon-Fri, and dinner Mon-Sat. 230 California St., at Battery St.

Another big one slated to open in late September will be ~SPRUCE~ from the Bacchus Management Group. Bacchus is made up of five partners: three from the Village Pub in Woodside (Tim Stannard, Mark Sullivan, Andrew Green), in addition to Gordon Drysdale (Pizza Antica and the former Gordon's House of Fine Eats) and Brannin Beal of Postino in Lafayette and Tomatina. They have taken over the former La Table space, in a building that originally housed a car garage in the '30s-'40s. The architect/designer is Greg Klosowski of Ellipsis a+d, who worked with Jim Zack of zack/devito on Manresa and Gordon's House of Fine Eats. Spruce's soaring ceiling features a glass skylight that runs through the center and is dramatic to say the least (you can take a peek at the project here). There will also be 30-foot antique brick walls, white Carrera-marble countertops, plus chocolate brown mohair and ebonized walnut. There will even be a dedicated aging room in the kitchen that is temperature-controlled for charcuterie and cheeses.

Mark Sullivan, from the Village Pub, will be the Executive Chef. Expect a menu of contemporary American/Californian cuisine, with the requisite Mediterranean flair. There will be an array of charcuterie, from salumi to pâté to headcheese, and ingredients will feature produce from SMIP Ranch, the restaurant's 17-acre organic farm on an estate in Woodside. Expect a continued commitment to incredible wine service—every waiter of the Village Pub is certified through the introductory level course through the Court of Master Sommeliers—and they will continue to do so at Spruce. They will also have about 1,000-plus wine selections, all stored at varying temperatures appropriate for the wine. 3640 Sacramento St., at Spruce St.

There is also another ~BIG PROJECT~ in the works for SF through Bacchus Management Group, but all I can say is the word is mum for a little bit longer until things are tightened up. I'll keep ya posted. (Naturally!)

After barely two months of service, the restaurant that moved into the Habana space on Van Ness, ~LA JOYA~, has closed.

On a brighter note, I was pedaling my bike by the ~WOODHOUSE FISH COMPANY~ last week and am happy to report it's open! It looks like a classic East Coast fish shack/diner, and the succinct menu (check it out on their website) looks beyond fish-a-licious, with fried oysters and Ipswich clams (!), seafood cocktail, stuffed artichoke or avocado, seafood salads, chowder, cracked crab and lobster, and Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada on tap. I'll let you know once I've checked it out. The owner is Dylan Woodhouse MacNiven, the son of Jamis MacNiven of the cult-like Buck's of Woodside. Open for dinner nightly, and hopefully lunch soon. 2073 Market St., at 14th St., 415-437-2722.

The former home of Watergate and Le Bistrot on Nob Hill is now ~SPARROW~ from Steve Javellana. The space was remodeled and opened a little over a week ago, serving contemporary cuisine with French-Asian influences. The executive chef is Terry Lynch, and I have to say, the menu looks rather tasty and is posted on the mighty-cute website. Open nightly for dinner. Valet parking is $9 at the Gramercy Towers parking lot (on Jones Street). 1177 California St., at Jones St., 415-474-2000.

This Monday was ~CAFFE TRIESTE'S~ first day open in their new location on Market Street, and this year marks their 50th year in business! The café features a seaside mural, a long espresso bar, and indoor seating. It will be open all day, offering traditional café fare like breakfast treats, quiches, soup, salads, panini, and the like. (And, of course, their delicious coffee.) They should have their outdoor seating set up in a couple weeks. Mon-Fri, opening at 6:30am, and Sat-Sun at 7am. Open until 10pm Sun-Thu, and 11pm Fri-Sat. 1667 Market St., at Gough St., 415-551-1000.

In the Marina, Cozmo's Corner Grill is closing (potentially at the end of June) and getting a massive facelift from the talented designer Michael Brennan (Boca, Cortez, Tartare), reopening as ~CIRCA~ in August or so. Executive Chef Erik Hopfinger (Butterfly, Backflip, Spoon) is building a menu of small and shared plates that will offer a modern interpretation of classic dishes, and will highlight more of his classic French training. Dishes will range from $4-$19, and will include numbers like Dungeness Crab Tater Tots and Moroccan Spiced "Lolly Chops." Mark Bright will be the consulting sommelier (past consultations include DOSA and Oola), crafting a wine list that will spotlight unique wines and small producers not easily found elsewhere, with a strong Cali presence. The 112-seat space includes a bar, lounge, and dining area, and will be significantly swankified, with cushioned walls, long chandeliers, plush booths, and light boxes. 2001 Chestnut St., at Fillmore St., 415-351-0175.

And now, for the big daddy: the ~WESTFIELD SAN FRANCISCO CENTRE~, opening September 28. I wrote up some of the initial restaurants moving in there a few weeks back, but here's the official list of the seven full-service restaurants that will comprise the signature Restaurant Collection:

Bradley Ogden and restaurateur Michael Dellar, principals of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group are opening ~LARK CREEK STEAK~, featuring steaks, chops, and seafood on the Centre's fourth floor, under the famed Dome that was formerly in the Emporium.

Big hurrah, Tom Colicchio will be importing ~'WICHCRAFT~ from NYC. We're talking sandwiches from heaven, people, made with ingredients from small producers and greenmarkets, and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats. You'll be able to eat-in, or take-out, plus there will be delivery (ruh roh) and catering options.

There will be an outpost of Charles Phan's ~OUT THE DOOR~ from Slanted Door.

There will be another import from the East Coast: Jeffrey Kalt's ~GOGLOBAL~, with foods prepared a la minute, exhibition style, as the guest looks on. There will be individual serving stations with foods from around the world, along with salads and sandwiches.

The folks behind Colibri Mexican Bistro, Sylvia and Eduardo Rallo, along with their group's executive chef, Alex Padilla and Chef Rocio Gomez (the former Mexican Presidential chef), will present ~ZAZIL~, an upscale Coastal Mexican restaurant serving seafood specialties in a stylish environment.

Chris Yeo will be moving his Singaporean/fusion ~STRAITS RESTAURANT~ from Geary Street, and reopening it in the Centre, with a raw oyster bar, and a full bar with premium sake and a selective wine list. The Geary Street location closes in July.

Last but not least, ~COCOLA BAKERY~, "the Gucci of French patisserie," will be opening its first San Francisco location. The authentic French bakery and café is famed for its homemade breads, high-end pastries, and soups.

There will also be the ~DOME CAFÉ~, situated beneath the historic dome and rotunda. Then there's the ~FOOD EMPORIUM~, which includes the gourmet market Bristol Farms, and an additional 15 fast-casual gourmet eateries in an upscale dining environment: food is served on real china with real cutlery. Bloomingdale's is coming, plus the flagship Century Theatres, with nine wall-to-wall screens and stadium seating, and a Burke Williams Day Spa and Massage Center. Whew. I'm tired.