September 19, 2006

Folks in the Dogpatch area are gonna be stoked about this news, and pizza lovers just might make the trek cross-town for this one: a tiny pizza place will be opening (optimistically) by the beginning of November called ~PICCINO~ (it's an endearing Italian diminutive of the word "little," picco). Not only is the 700-square-foot space small (there will be four tables inside, max, plus some outdoor seating), but the menu will also be small—and so are the owners, who barely clock in 5'2". Awww! Piccino will be open daily in the morning, serving Blue Bottle coffee and baked goods (plus organic hard-boiled eggs with flavored salts for those on the go), and come early afternoon, the gas oven will be fired up for pizzas. Panini, soup, and salads will also be on the menu, all made with local and organic ingredients. Plus beer and wine, check! This first-time venture comes from a Pizzetta 211 alum (for 1 1/2 years), Sheryl Rogat, so you know she knows her pizza! Her business partner is Margherita Stewart, a fellow pizza and coffee-phile (she had an import business, and her husband is the owner of the building that houses the Blue Bottle kiosk on Linden). Just kitty corner to Just for You, the petite space is in an historical building that was a market in the '40s, and most recently a computer media company. Everyone in the neighborhood has been really supportive of the project (no surprise there). It'll be open daily for coffee in the mornings and lunch five days a week (for now)—evenings potentially later. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee.

~JAMES "SEAMUS" MULHALL~, a captain at Gary Danko since it opened in 1999, will be leaving the restaurant at the end of the month to start preparing for his next gig: GM of Nick's Cove & Cottages in Tomales Bay. This is the waterfront project from Pat Kuleto, Mark Franz, and Richard Miyashiro that finally got underway in February after years of languishing in permit hell (something like 39 permits had to be secured for this doozy of a project) and serious construction, like putting in a new pier and retaining walls. Ugh. Seamus will be at Nick's Cove with his wife Shelley, who is also leaving her job as a manager at Chez Panisse. I'm sure many people wish them well, and we can all look forward to checking out the (soon-to-be upscale) cottages and slurping some shucked oysters at the seafood "shack" come 2007. And you know service and operations will be spot-on—in addition to his years at Gary Danko, Seamus was a waiter at La Folie for five years, Masa's for 2 1/2 years (when Julian Serrano was there), and Farallon. Cheers Seamus!

Another big Kuleto project that just broke ground a little over a week ago (after three years in the works) is the historic Rincon Park Restaurant Project. The park is situated between Harrison and Howard Streets, right at the base of Folsom and along The Embarcadero. It will include open lawns and landscaped areas, just next to the hulking Oldenburg and van Bruggen Cupid's Span sculpture. There are two restaurants in the works that are slated to open in late 2007: first is ~EPIC~, a contemporary roast house that will have Jan Birnbaum at the helm (as chef and co-owner). Birnbaum has some serious chops (har) that includes time in New Orleans, New York, and locally, Campton Place and the former Catahoula in Calistoga. There will be a custom-built wood-fired grill, with a menu that will include a globetrotting variety of meat and steaks, plus some finned and feathered friends. The restaurant will be at the north end of a large outdoor piazza in the park; both restaurants will share this piazza for outdoor seating for lunch, dinner, and cocktails, and will be open daily. 369 Embarcadero.

On the south end of Rincon Park will be the seafood-centric ~WATERBAR~, headed up by Chef Mark Franz (the chef and a co-owner of Farallon), a partner in the project. The high-end restaurant will feature floor-to-ceiling aquariums with live fish, plus fresh fish flown in from around the world, and spectacular bay views. Kuleto is describing the look as "the Monterey Bay Aquarium meets Tadich Grill." See, you will be able to eat the fish instead of just watch them. 399 Embarcadero.

After the departure of Karen Taylor from ~ROOSEVELT'S TAMALE PARLOR~, and subsequent less-than-stellar reports, it seems things have evened out and improved over there according to some posts on Chowhound.

I heard the Thursday prix fixe dinners at ~WINTERLAND~ have ended, so we'll just have to sit tight for now and see where Vernon Morales ends up. It's the million dollar question. Well, in my book it is.

Quick updates for you ever-curious types: ~SALT HOUSE~, the upcoming project from the Town Hall gents, is looking like an early October opening (ditto for ~PERBACCO~, the Piedmontese Italian restaurant opening on California next to Aqua and Tadich Grill). ~LITTLE STAR~ on Valencia will hopefully be opening late next week—that's what they're going for. Went to an opening party at ~PRANA~ last week—it's getting close! You can check out their website (with menus) here.

I heard through the proverbial grapevine that ~MEDJOOL~ is going to be potentially changing some dishes, like 10-15, come late October. More on this as it takes shape.

Since fall is here, it's the perfect time for cassoulet! Just think, a nice big bowl of white beans with duck confit, lamb confit, boudin blanc, and Toulouse sausage (garlic and pork) on a chilly night, huzzah. Hungry? Cassoulet is back on the menu at ~RUE ST. JACQUES~, and they have a 2003 Vacqueyras that reportedly pairs nicely with it. Good thing they're on a hill so you can try to walk some of it off after dinner.

~ANZU~ is running a "Locals Only" wine special in the restaurant. All bottles of wine will be available at 50% off list, now through the end of September. Be sure to mention the wine special should you choose to take advantage of it.

And finally, not sure how many of you are familiar with the ~SAVORY~ website in NYC, but I wanted to let you know they are launching an SF version tomorrow, which will feature short video profiles of local favorite restaurants (think Zuni, NOPA, Incanto, etc.) that are added each week, plus useful listing information and links to some reviews. They are most welcome to the 415!