Opening tonight (May 29th) in the Outer Richmond is PEARL, an immediately likable corner restaurant that is just up the street from Pizzetta 211. The project is a collaborative partnership-ownership model with some Pizzetta 211 fam, including co-chefs Mel Lopez (Pizzetta 211, Baker & Banker, Aziza, Zero Zero) and Joyce Conway (Zero Zero, 20 Spot)—who met at Bix—with bar manager Nahiel Nazzal and GM Susan Dunn all as partners, along with Pizzetta 211’s Jack Murphy.
The neighborhood must be so excited to have this stylish addition, which has classic good looks and a cozy yet airy feeling. (It was originally a drugstore, and the vintage tiled floor is downright precious.) You’ll want to nestle right into a tobacco tufted booth or perch at the curving marble bar. The 40-seat restaurant has two sides: one is more dining room-style, and the bar side is like a bistro bar, perfect for solo diners or a couple who like counters. In my Table Talk column for KQED’s Bay Area Bites, I mention it’s like a mash-up of Brooklyn and New Orleans DNA. It’s impressive since they did the design themselves!
The menu is notably affordable, especially considering the quality and seasonal ingredients they are using. There’s a killer chicory Caesar salad on there (so good), and starters like brandade fritters and local halibut crudo, plus a few housemade pastas (Conway was at Zero Zero, so she knows a thing or two about that). There’s a wood-fired oven, which they are not making pizzas in, to be clear. Mains include a juicy grilled pork chop that really hits the spot, with apricot-cherry mostarda. There’s also grilled Gulf prawns, seared local albacore—all appealing. The menu hits an approachable California bistro tone, with some international touches. Large-format roasts (including whole local fish and large pork and beef roasts) are built for group dining. Desserts include their housemade ice cream in a sundae, and rhubarb crostata.
Cocktails are also a part of the experience (and oysters too!). They are open in the morning, with Andytown coffee and wood-fired bagels, so come on by. There’s also outdoor seating, and brunch is coming this weekend. (Put those two together…) Hours: daily café 7:30am-2pm (note the café service stops at 10am on weekend brunch), dinner Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm, and brunch Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 6101 California St. at 23rd Ave., 415-592-9777.
Start your meal with boquerones on a soft egg with thyme breadcrumbs. Photo: Jane Srisarakorn.