Opening tonight, Tuesday April 30th, is CHE FICO ALIMENTARI, from partners David Nayfeld, Angela Pinkerton, and Matt Brewer, below their wildly popular Che Fico in the short-lived Theorita space. Anyone who has been fortunate to dine at Roscioli in Rome is going to be reminded of it here (it’s a market and deli that you dine in the middle of, just next to packed shelves and deli cases, and feast on some of the best pasta of your life).
Chef David Nayfeld is serving pasta dishes using Pastificio Gentile (imported, dried pasta from Italy), different from the handmade pasta upstairs. You’ll find bucatini cacio e pepe, rigatoni all’amatriciana (my favorite pasta on this earth), and spaghetti ragù alla napoletana.
The enoteca style will also mean there will be all kinds of antipasti, including salumi (both housemade and imported), cheeses (including mozzarella accompanied by a variety of toppings, like olive oil-cured anchovy, prosciutto di San Daniele, caviar, or truffle), a daily bruschetta, wild mushroom conserva, and as a nod to Nayfeld’s past time in Rome, carciofi brasati (braised artichokes). There will also be seafood dishes (clams and ‘nduja, or Santa Barbara prawn scampi), and larger secondi, like swordfish a la siciliana, braised short ribs with Tierra Farms polenta, horseradish, gremolata, and nebbiolo jus; and suckling pig with roasted potato and English peas.
You’ll be pairing your bites or meal with (mostly) Italian wines selected by wine director Francesca Maniace, whose background includes working with Shelley Lindgren at A16 and Francesco Grosso at Marea (New York). She has built a list representing many of the twenty regions of Italy, with a focus on Piedmont, Tuscany, and Sicily, and with more than 200 selections to start, from the affordable to rare collector’s bottles. (There are also Champagnes to choose from.) You can try wines by the glass and quartino, and look for some special bottles that can only be found at the restaurant. Wine tastings and winemaker dinners will also be happening.
While people miss partner and pastry chef Angela Pinkerton’s pies, she’s been busy developing a program of house-baked breads (including focaccia with whipped mascarpone and Ligurian olive oil). Bring on the ciabatta with Tuscan “butter.” Desserts include housemade gelati and sorbetti, and seasonal treats like cannoli, and a napoleon with strawberries, basil, and Heilala vanilla.
Jon de la Cruz of DLC ID is behind the cozy design, and like upstairs, you’ll note their signature red, more custom wallpaper (while the figs were amazing, this one features various kinds of salumi), weathered oak flooring, and plenty of products you’ll want to bring home, including olive oils, vinegars, dried pastas, flour, grains, spices, and herbs, plus 200 wines.
The open kitchen in the front has a 12-seat counter, plus there are high tables with bar stools; further back are red-striped velvet banquettes and regular dining tables. Up front at the counter, you’ll also be able to purchase Che Fico’s housemade salumi, local and Italian cheeses, housemade antipasti, loaves of fresh breads, cannoli, tiramisù by the slice, gelati, and sorbetti by the scoop, and Che Fico’s signature chocolate bars. Throwing a party? You can also pre-order a full tray of lasagna (call me), roasted porchetta, and more.
Open for dinner Tue-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 834 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-416-6980.
A look at Che Fico Alimentari’s dining room. Photo: Ed Anderson.