It’s such a satisfying feeling when the replacement for a sweet neighborhood spot that sadly closed (La Nebbia) is just as lovable, with equally kind and thoughtful owners. Yeah, Noe Valley, you should be really happy about the opening of ARDIANA tonight from Sharon Ardiana, of Gialina and Ragazza fame, with business partner (and Ragazza GM) Greg Hinds.
While Ardiana is known for her crisp-crust pizzas with fantastic toppings and combinations, at Ardiana, things will expand to be a bit more Mediterranean. The menu is designed to be flexible, depending on your appetite, group size, and whether you have little ones in tow or not. For example, the menu has a “For the Table” section, with six creative mezes to choose from, all paired with housemade pita bread. Think roasted eggplant dip with pomegranate molasses, Greek yogurt, and mint; carrot hummus with black tahini, sumac, and watermelon radish; and pickled baby beets with orange blossom yogurt, pistachios, and mint. She’s having fun with all these ingredients, like the golden and black sesame pastes in the carrot hummus are from Greg Dunmore’s Japanese Pantry, and the eggplant purée features lemon verbena syrup made from her roof-deck plants. The mezes are $7 each, three for $19, five for $31, The Whole Shebang for $36.
Fortunately some of Ardiana’s trademark badass salads will be in the mix, with two lettuce salads and more seasonal items. Right now the height-of-season salads include an heirloom tomato (Mariquita Farm tomatoes) salad with brown butter, lemon verbena, and shiso; summer stone fruit (from Balakian Farms) with pistachio butter, Di Stefano burrata, and Star Route Farms purslane, with a drizzle of Mugolio syrup (a pinecone bud extract from the Dolomites); and then there’s 24-month prosciutto di Parma with Full Belly Farms goddess melons (which Ardiana says are insanely sweet right now).
As for the pizzas, she doesn’t want to cannibalize Gialina and will be making only six or seven pies. Instead of a Margherita, she’s doing New York, New York, with tomato sauce, oregano, mozzarella, and when it comes hot out of the oven, it gets a dusting of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. She really hopes it “takes East Coasters back to a great slice that they had in NYC.” The funghi pizza is made with trumpet mushrooms and is finished with some Sardinian Moliterno truffle cheese (which I am sure former La Nebbia owners Massimiliano and Lorella approve of—they were both Sardinian).
Since this location has more oven space, Ardiana is excited to add some larger plates, like roasted Mary’s chicken breast with a stone fruit panzanella made with Tartine bread and Balakian Farms peaches and plums. There’s king salmon with nasturtium butter from her garden along with marinated farro and sweet white corn. How about a lamb chop with whipped feta, potato hash, and chermoula, or a meaty long-braised beef short rib rubbed with star anise, coffee, and brown sugar?
Dessert includes tiramisu, a light olive oil cake, coconut-lime semifreddo, and ice cream sandwiches with Bi-Rite Creamery mint chip inside. You can see how Ardiana and business partner Hinds are keen on making this a neighborhood- and family-friendly spot, that “go-to” kind of place where you can easily grab dinner, dine solo at the counter, or have a date night.
The look was updated to be a bit midcentury, with wood chairs and a vibrant blue wall, and of course some Ardiana family photos taken in Pennsylvania by her Dutch great-uncle Emile, who was an amateur photographer (he had a darkroom in his basement).
The wine list was curated by their good friend Deena Smith, formerly of The Henry Wine Group. Of course you’ll find some Italian wines, but also France, Spain, and even a bit of California will be represented. You can enjoy an aperitivo with some low-ABV cocktails she created ($10 each), including the Phony Negroni (Contratto Bitter, Berto Rosso vermouth, juniper-infused Minato sake), the Ardiana Spritz (Contratto aperitif, prosecco, soda, orange), and the San Lucar (Bordiga Bianco vermouth, La Guita sherry, and a lemon twist).
The GM is Andrea “Andi” Suhr, formerly a Lazy Bear captain and Hog Island alumnus, and Jesse Scott Moore—most recently sous chef at Heirloom Café—will be chef de cuisine.
Hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm, closed Sun-Mon. Reservations accepted through Resy. 1781 Church St. at 30th St., San Francisco, 415-926-5982.
It’s aperitivo o’clock. Photo: Takashi Fukuda.