table of contents   This week's tablehopper: pizza da’ action.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me


MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Is there anything better on a hot day than a scoop of salted caramel ice cream (with a little chocolate too) from Bi-Rite Creamery? Like, meow. (Although I hear the banana split is pretty sick as well.) Did you know you can actually ask for a single scoop with two flavors? My friend turned me on it to it, brilliant! (And Bi-Rite is now hating me.) Lord knows it’s hard enough deciding on one flavor at that place.

And this Saturday, oh dear. Or should I say O’Dear? Here’s wishing you a Happy St. Paddy’s Day. Consider yourself pinched.

~Marcia subscribe

the chatterbox

TuttiFoodie.comMARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO So the big buzz on the circuit is whether ~ROBBIE LEWIS~, formerly the executive chef at Jardinière, is the new executive chef at bacar. While he has been in the bacar kitchen since this past weekend, Lewis is still very much “in play.” A potential bacar contract is being discussed, but he actually has four or five other options in the mix, from consulting gigs to longer-term contracts. Stand by for news about when the ink is actually dry, whatever, wherever, and whenever that may be.

Another SOMA venue is making some changes: ~ROE~ is closing in mid-April, and will relaunch on May 1st with a new look and chef. Leading the kitchen will be Thai Tran, formerly a line cook at Boulevard and Ame. She’ll be steering the Southeast Asian menu, and adding some Vietnamese flair when the restaurant reopens. Margaret “Peg” O’Brien from Los Angeles will be redesigning the restaurant—she is behind LA projects like Minx, Republic, and Garden of Eden. The new look will be sleeker—more graphite and pearl, replacing the primary colors, gold, and animal prints. (Rawr.) Roe will reopen for dinner Tue.-Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat. 6pm-10pm (nightclub hours are a different animal), 651 Howard St. at Hawthorne Lane, 415-227-0288.

Over in North Beach, “the sisters” (Silvia and Christina Santucci) have sold ~STELLA PASTRY & CAFÉ~ (one is expecting a baby, and the other is potentially moving away). Stella has been around since 1942, and with the Santucci family since 1966. But fear not; the new owners are Susan Flaherty and Dino Belluomini of Victoria Pastry, literally just a few blocks away. Plans are to keep Stella as is (they appreciate the classically San Franciscan bohemian atmosphere of the bakery, and know it’s a different clientele than Victoria’s), so it’s not going to become “Victoria Pastry #2.” In fact, Dino used to bake at Stella—it was his first job, so he has a special soft spot for it. And the current baker at Stella, who has been turning out all the biscotti and cannoli and sfogliatelle and famous sacripantina for the past ten years will remain. Bene. The one change will be the potential to start ordering pastry treats through the Victoria Pastry website, soon. 446 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo St., 415 986-2914.

After making some concept changes, ~MEDICINE EATSTATION~ will be reopening next Monday, March 19, with bento boxes and seafood being added to the originally vegetarian-focused menu. The space will be streamlined for quick-service eat-in or take-out (you can even order lunch ahead of time on the website). There will also be a five-seat noodle bar. New hours will be for lunch only, Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm; take-out will still be available from 3pm-6pm. Another change: almost 100% of the ingredients will be now be organic.

The dining room area is also being altered, with one portion used for Eatstation, while the remainder of the space will morph into Medicine-Ryori in mid-October, offering elegant kaiseki cuisine for dinner. Co-Executive Chefs Ryuta Sakamoto and Bryan Waites are designing the multi-course kaiseki menu. The dining room will have 25 seats, plus a lounge, a five-seat chef’s bar, and a 14-seat private dining room. Janet Crane of San Francisco’s Freebairn-Smith & Crane, the original green architect and interior designer for the restaurant, is leading the remodel. 181 Sutter St., Crocker Galleria, 415-677-4405.

Over in the Castro, ~HARVEY’S~ has temporarily closed due to some drainage issues. The construction should be complete by the end of the month. 500 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-431-4278.

And what is rapidly becoming a seemingly cursed location, ~LIKEWISE CAFÉ~ has closed after a brief stint (formerly ZigZag café) just down the street. Next?! 476 Castro St. at 17th St., 415-863-2725.

Okay, now for a rather racy tidbit. (Mom and Dad, stop reading right now.) Not sure if many of you are aware of what’s going on this Wednesday, but let’s just say while the ladies have Valentine’s Day, there’s a micro-movement afoot for men to make March 14th all theirs. What exactly does that look like? Well, how about ~STEAK AND BJ DAY~? (Sounds about par for the course.) Google away—there are a number of sites to choose from—it’s real. I even received a “tip please” request for where to go this Wednesday for steak. Since I like to enable people to get what they are looking for (meal-wise, ahem), here are my top picks for some killer steak around town that are just right for the “occasion.” (I really can’t help you with the second part—that’s up to you to sort out.) I would love a restaurant to offer a special next year, can you imagine?

1-larkcreeksteak—I can’t stop thinking about the last steak I had here. Just thinking about it elicits seriously primal steak cravings. My top pick for some beauteous beef.

2-Harris’ Restaurant is a classic. Think large booth, martini with a little extra chilling in a mini barrel, and a behemoth 21-day dry-aged steak. Yes, it’s Midwestern, and corn-fed. And it’s not cheap. Oh, and don’t let the terrifying voice/website video scare you like it did me when the page loads. (You can’t turn it off. Like, annoying!)

3-Okay, the interior does far from thrill me. (I recall some scary clown hanging above the door.) And it’s on Lombard Street, not exactly a boulevard to inspire culinary hope. But damn, the steaks at Boboquivari’s/Bobo’s are really top-notch. Also corn-fed and dry-aged. Like buttah. Goes to show that whole book/cover thing.

4-For a more atmospheric vibe, the steak and frites at both South Park Café and Florio totally rock me. Oh, Delfina does a gorg flatiron and fries too.

5-Hey, why not go totally old school and hit Original Joe’s in the TL? This joint has been keeping it real since 1937: they have the longest running mesquite grill in San Francisco, the meat is butchered in-house, and is basically too legit to quit. Cocktail, booth, beef: check, check, check. Your man will totally feel like the Mack.

6-Oh, and those craving some quality grass-fed options, there’s the delicious Acme Chophouse or you can go the South American route and hit up El Raigon for some Uruguayan beef and lusty Malbec. (Don’t miss the sweetbreads either.)

Since we’re on steaks (that other part of the topic is now closed), ~SEASONS RESTAURANT~ at the Four Seasons is relaunching as Seasons Steak & Seafood, a refined steakhouse concept. The idea is to make the restaurant more approachable and comfortable, so there is a new wine list, new uniforms, a new approach to service, and no tablecloths. Well. And when you order steak or seafood from the grill, Chef Jeremy Emmerson is stepping away from the classic (and fat-laden) sides of scalloped potatoes and creamed spinach, and instead will offer roasted fingerling potatoes and local and organic ingredients like Swiss chard, fennel and mushroom gratin, and baked Iacopi butter beans. There will also be a Surf N’ Turf tasting menu, a three-part tasting menu that will offer diners two smaller portions of complementary dishes, all paired with 3 oz. pours of wine. Combos will include dishes like Tuna Tartare ‘n’ Beef Tartare followed by Maine Lobster ‘n’ Milk-Fed Veal Chop, with Grayson Cheese ‘n’ Profiteroles. The impetus for all these changes is Chef Emmerson’s leaner physique—he was previously cutting a bigger figure, and his revised eating habits are reflected in the new menu. (I should talk to him…) It’s not totally healthy per se, but not pure steakhouse evil either. 757 Market St., Four Seasons Hotel, 415-633-3838.

A couple changes around town: ~R&G LOUNGE~ has closed for remodeling until March 27, and will reopen on March 28. (You can get your salt and pepper crab at Lichee Garden in the meantime.)

And Tenderloin favorite, ~SULTAN~, will be moving into new digs just around the corner at some point this summer, just across from the Hilton. The restaurant will be almost doubling in size, from 50 to 85-90 seats. Sultan has been in its current location for almost five years, but is looking forward to creating a more contemporary space that will also be able to accommodate larger groups. They also plan on tweaking the menu, introducing some new dishes that reflect some of the dining innovations and trends happening in India. New location will be 340 O’Farrell St. between Taylor and Mason.

A significant loss in the wine world: ~ERNEST GALLO~ passed away last week at the ripe age of 97.

Check it out: starting in May, a ~BATTLE OF THE CHEFS SERIES~ is launching at the Macy’s Cellar. (Watch those knives!) Two local chefs will compete, whipping up their best dish with the featured ingredient, with room for fifty spectators to watch. There will be three judges and Marisa Churchill, from Bravo’s Top Chef and the former executive pastry chef for Restaurant LuLu and Ame, will be providing the “chop by chop” commentary. Admission to each Battle of the Chefs event will be $10 and includes food samples, a recipe card, and a $10 Macy’s gift card. The bell sounds at 6:30pm on fight nights and space is limited. Visit the site for more info. Here’s the line-up:

Monday – May 14th, 2007:  Far East Aptitude meets East Coast Attitude
Kunhiro Kinda (Hime) vs. Joseph Manzare (Pescheria, Globe, Zuppa, Tres Agaves)
Chef Kinda’s traditional Japanese style will go head-to-head with Chef Manzare’s Bronx-Italian flair when the Far East battles the East Coast.

Monday – June 18th, 2007:  “New York, New York”
Erik Hopfinger (CIRCA) vs. Noah Tucker (Brick)
Executive Chef Hopfinger pits his innovative American classics against Executive Chef Tucker’s internationally influenced style in this battle of chefs who previously worked in top New York kitchens.
Monday – July 23rd, 2007:  Seeing Stars             
Tim Luym (Poleng Lounge) vs. Bruce Hill (Picco, Bix)
2007 “San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef” and just nominated for the “2007 Rising Star Chef Award” by the James Beard Foundation, Luym brings 3-star pan-Asian street food up against one-time “Wine Spectator Chef of the Year” Hill’s 3-star American fare.

Attention industry folk: are you familiar with the incredible edibles from the local businesses that comprise ~LA COCINA~? If you have a café, a store, a bar, a restaurant, a winery, or you are a distributor, you really should come on by to the ExpoCocina this Wednesday. It’s an intimate trade show for industry professionals (writers are invited too), and an opportunity to taste the food from the 15 local businesses and meet the fantastic people behind them. I went last year and was blown away with the authenticity of the offerings. Check it out at 2948 Folsom St., between 25th and 26th Streets. Wednesday, March 14th, 2pm-7pm. Please RSVP to Caleb Zigas at caleb [at] lacocinasf [dot] org.

Got a hot tip? You know I’d love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

fresh meat

Gialina Pizzeria

Gialina Pizzeria
2842 Diamond St.
Cross: Kern St.
San Francisco, CA 94131


Mon-Thu 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Sun 4pm-10pm

Apps $7-$14
Pizzas $11-$14
Desserts $6-$7

MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO There’s not much that could inspire me to schlep all the way to Glen Park except perhaps a bourbon convention, a hot Greek Aussie, or the rumors of damned good pizza. ~GIALINA~ just opened about a month ago (Jan. ’07), and I’m here to report, the rumors are true: there’s gold in them there hills! It’s about a stone’s throw from the Glen Park BART station, but if you’ve got wheels, make sure you’ve got your coordinates down, Maverick, because it’s crazy confusing over there (my sh*t got hella lost). Print out the map on the site, yo.

Chef and owner Sharon Ardiana was formerly at Lime (AKA HQ for buckets of mimosas on the weekend), but her time at Boulevard and Slow Club are what surely sealed her love of seasonal ingredients. Oh, and that Italian upbringing. She has opened a little spot that is near and dear to her heart, even naming the place after her nonna, Lina. It has a clean design, with charming little personal touches. Huge family pictures adorn the walls: black and white photos of grandpa with a mini-hat on for his birthday (you gotta see it), or family posing in front of the leaning tower of Pisa.

Service is personal and friendly, and the place will be literally hopping. Read: slammed. The neighborhood is in love with this joint. And then there are people like me who don’t even live in the ‘hood who will be clogging its precious tables. Yes, it’s amore. You might need to cruise up the street for a drink or a stroll before your table is ready, because it is shoebox-sized (40 seats). Folks who live nearby are seriously lucky with the takeout option.

Ardiana has been working like mad with a friend on perfecting the recipe for the dough, and with all the pizzerias opening in this town, she has still managed to turn out a pie that is nothing like the others. The toothsome crust is Neapolitan-style, and hits just the right amount of chewy and moist, with a hearty cornicione (try that on for size: it’s the lip around the edge of the pizza, i.e. the crust) that you actually want to eat. Carb-phobics: stay away. Hints of sour, and sweet, and toastiness. (She professes to be a fan of the pizzas at Zuni and the Chez Panisse Cafe.) It tastes homemade and looks handcrafted, and in spite of not having a brick pizza oven, they are doing a nice job.

So let’s get to the pies. Hands down, just like a good hooker, the puttanesca ($11) left me begging for more. I’m gonna be back for additional visits with that hot little number, let me tell you. It’s not a pizza for everyone, but I find the combination of dry-cured black olives, anchovies, capers, and chili pure alchemy. Everything you need for an impassioned roll in the hay is there. And what a sauce. Deep tomato flavor. Yes, I’d like one hour alone with the pizza, thank you.

We also tried the tangy dandelion greens with sweet house-made Italian sausage and Fontina ($13). I know, dandelion greens, like, yum. I drizzled some chili oil on top and this pizza went to 11. We customized another, the wild nettles with spring garlic and pecorino (plus some provolone and Fontina) ($14), but instead of the portobello mushrooms, Sharon was cool to swap in some pancetta instead. The next morning I warmed up the few leftover slices, poached an egg and voila, breakfast of champions. (Or pizzaholics.)

You can also get a classic Margherita ($10), meatball ($13), or the Atomica ($12) with mushrooms, red onions, mozz, and spicy chilies. Gourmet goodies abound on the menu, like butternut squash, pecorino, ricotta salata… you can even get an egg, anchovy, or prosciutto added to your pizza. (Note to self: I totally should have ordered the wild nettles pie with an egg.) Ardiana also does a roast of the day, like pork or brisket. I had a Vulcan eye lock on the pizza, however. (And no, I am not a Trekkie.)

Starters include some juicy meatballs ($9), made with veal, beef, and pork (the holy trinity?), and the salad of mixed chicories, arugula, shaved egg, fennel and Italian dressing ($8/$14) really lets the ingredients speak for themselves. When it comes to salad dressing, I do like a light hand. And it’s presented in a lovely Heath bowl. Nice!

The wine list is all-Italian, with eleven types available by the glass, quartino, or bottle. Yes, viva Italia. We started with the Adami Bosco di Gica prosecco ($27/bottle)—thanks to some friends (E + R!) at another table who sponsored our bottle! It was a nice reminder how fab it is to have someone buy you a glass of wine, or a drink. Or, bonus, a bottle. Super!

Our chipper server steered us to the powerful Magliano Morellino di Scansano ($34), which held up to the puttanesca for sure. Mano a mano. For the record, it’s also the most expensive bottle on the list, so it might have been a veiled up-sell, but it was also strongly recommended. Fine.

Now, dessert. Ardiana is some kind of pizza freak (high-five, sister), because she has actually created a dessert pizza ($9). Pazza! Think Nutella with crumbled amaretti on top and a dollop of mascarpone. And because she’s all hooked up with the gourmand set of SF, she has the only joint in town that features Bi-Rite ice cream on the menu ($6). Hello honey lavender. She’s also had the mint chocolate chip and brown butter pecan in there too. But I’ll be back to try the homemade ices ($6). The ricotta cheesecake ($7) was also lovely, with little hints of citrus.

So, as expected, the gourmet hootenanny for three was not cheap. But this is how we roll in SF. Truth be told, we could have done with only two pizzas, but when you’re out with the tablehopper, well, this is what happens. Lunch will be happening here soon. And my return visit for some more hot puttanesca action.

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the socialite

Rhone Rangers

Rhone Rangers

SF Grand Tasting
March 17-18, 2007

Various locations

Fort Mason Box Office



Advance general admission: $45
Rhone Ranger members: $35
Day of event: $55
Seminar/Tasting package: $75

MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Raise those wineglasses: some folks are sure to have some stained teeth this weekend during the ~RHONE RANGERS~ events. Giddy up:

Saturday, March 17, 6:30-10:30 pm: Gala barbecue, tasting and live auction at the San Francisco Film Centre (the Presidio). Join Rhone Ranger winemakers for a kick-off feast, celebration and live auction. Eighteen winemakers will each host a table of ten and will pour their handcrafted Rhone style wines. A live auction with a unique, one-of-kind item donated by each winemaker will cap off the evening. And the food? It’s catered by Union Street Catering and includes platters of grilled lemon chicken sausages and herb-grilled tri-tip, salad, grilled vegetables, artisan breads, coffee and tea. The beautiful San Francisco Film Centre on the Presidio is the venue. $75 per person, $140 per couple. You can read more, or buy tickets.

March 18, 11:00 am-12 noon: Rhone varietal educational seminar in the Golden Gate Room at Fort Mason Center. Join six Rhone Ranger winemakers to taste and discuss "Boutique Syrahs" and "Rhone Rosés." Seating is limited to 120 participants. No seminar tickets will be sold the day of the event. Seminar attendees get admitted to the tasting beginning at 12 noon. 

March 18, 1:30-4:00 pm: The Main Event! Sample Rhone varietals from over 120 Rhone Ranger member wineries and artisan food products from Bay Area producers. Festival Pavilion doors open to consumers at 1:30pm. A trade and media tasting takes place from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. A silent auction runs from 12:00 noon until 3:30. New this year: "Meet the Winemakers" special tasting area. Member winemakers will present 20-minute mini-tastings for small groups on topics like single vineyard Syrah and vintage variation. See the schedule available the day of the tasting. Click here for a list of participating wineries.

Growers Dinners

Growers Dinners
Mar. 21-May 16, 2007

Jack Falstaff
598 Second St.
Cross: Brannan St.
San Francisco, CA 94107



MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Another series of ~JACK FALSTAFF GROWERS DINNERS~, where you can savor a true taste of seasonal cooking are kicking off. Executive Chef Jonnatan Leiva (and total lover of the farmers’ market) will be highlighting the products of some of his favorite local producers, with pairings offered from Wine Director Gillian Balance. This week starts with the mushroom lady!

Wednesday, March 21, Connie Green, owner of Wine Forest Mushrooms
Connie Green from Wine Forest Mushrooms (Napa), an authority on edible mushrooms from all over the world, will be on hand sharing her picks of the season.
$65 per person for 4 courses, or $85 with paired wines.

Wednesday, April 18, Mariquita Farms
Mariquita is a small family run farm located in Watsonville, CA, and renowned for the excellent organic specialty vegetables, greens, strawberries and herbs produced there.
$65 per person for 4 courses, or $85 with paired wines.     

Wednesday, May 16, Howard Case Olive Oils
Join proprietor Howard Case, distributor of fine imported olive oils, as he teams up with Leiva for an evening of culinary decadence that will showcase his exquisite oils.  
$65 per person for 4 courses, or $85 with paired wines.

Toast of the Town

Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town
Thu., March 29, 2007

War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave.
Cross: Grove St.
San Francisco, CA



VIP tasting 5pm-10pm
Grand Tasting 7pm-10pm

VIP $185 ($165 for tablehopper readers)
Grand Tasting $95 ($85 for tablehopper readers)

MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO This year will be the first time Wine Enthusiast magazine hosts its ~TOAST OF THE TOWN~ wine, restaurant and music event in San Francisco. And tablehopper readers get a discount!  (See below.) There will be local live jazz, premium wines and spirits from over 70 international producers, and culinary creations from over 30 Bay Area restaurants, like Bix, Delfina, Myth, Michael Mina, Bar Tartine, and PlumpJack Cafe.

The VIP tasting (from 5pm-10pm) offers a much smaller audience a special selection of super premium Reserve and Estate wines. For a list of participating wineries and spirit companies, click here. The larger Grand Tasting takes place from 7pm-10pm. Also included in this event is a Silent Auction, with donations from the participating wineries and restaurants to benefit America’s Second Harvest. For both tastings, space is limited; tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tablehopper readers: for your discount, be sure to enter the code: THOP07.

the starlet

MARCH 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Fashion, people! Tim Gunn of Project Runway was seen at Delfina.

Christina Aguilera (she sings “Hips Don’t Lie,” right? Kidding!) was spotted at the Ambassador.

Danny Glover came into McCormick & Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant for lunch. He had calamari, popcorn shrimp and crab Louis salad.

Patricia Wells, cookbook goddess and educator extraordinaire, was spotted at Ritual.