The ample aperitivo spread 54 Mint offered at Una Serata a Roma. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Howdy amici. Hope you all had a swell weekend outside in the sunny weather. I definitely had fun on Friday, because boss of me said I should take the day off and hit the beach. (Love it when boss of me is cool like that.) I think last week’s tablehopper and Campari America event at 54 Mint, Una Serata a Roma, got some Italian siesta vibe into my veins.
Be sure to check out the beautiful photo recap on Dinners with Friends, and we just posted our own album on the tablehopper Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who came, and an extra-special grazie to Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch for supplying us with that amazing pork! (Please consider helping Mark out with his Kiva loan drive—it’s not a donation, it’s a loan, and I know he’d really appreciate any amount, even $5!)
You feeling a little drowsy? Yeah, it’s about that time in the afternoon when I need my second espresso. Here’s my post for 7x7.com on four new cafés to open around town (plus a cool tea spot too).
A huge congrats to our copyeditor extraordinaire, Jane Tunks Demel, who just gave birth to her baby boy last night, Eben Kent Demel (he clocked in at 9 pounds 2 ounces!). So if you find any typos in today’s (shorter) column, well, this is what happens when Jane isn’t here. Be kind.
Are you going to Eat Drink SF this weekend? I’ll definitely see you there (especially on Saturday morning, when I’ll be moderating Fabio Viviani’s demo).
Ciao ciao. Marcia Gagliardi
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Chris L’Hommedieu, a San Francisco chef who was adored by many people in our local restaurant industry, and far beyond. He shuffled off this mortal coil last week after a long and arduous battle with cancer. Such a tragic loss. Deep condolences to his family and everyone who knew him—he will be missed greatly and his departure is mourned by so many.
A report by Dana Eastland. As noted on tablehopper back in June, chef-restaurateur Alexander Alioto is opening an Italian restaurant called PLIN on Valencia Street in the former home of Conduit and Another Monkey. It’s opening on Friday August 1st, and we got a first look into the interior.
Alioto has his whole family involved in the project (after all, he is a fourth generation restaurateur), and his mother, Joanne, helped with the interior design (Architects II designed the restaurant). It’s a large space, with seating for 100 in the 3,700-square-foot space. There is also a glass-walled private dining room in back, with seating for twelve. The bar area has about ten seats at the bar, with additional tall tables nearby. In the dining room, a long communal table stretches from the entrance back to the kitchen, while banquettes divide the room into two dining areas, with leather upholstery and walnut tabletops.
The light fixtures are a nod the restaurant’s focus on seafood, with organic shapes that reflect the ocean and its inhabitants. Over the communal table, three lit wire pieces from Jan Pauwels are designed to evoke floating fish, while blown glass pendants over the bar resemble bubbles. The whole front wall is lined with wood-sashed square windows that allow light to stream in, while also providing some distance from the busy street. The back wall, which has a large picture window into the kitchen, has been done in small, iridescent tile that resembles the scales of a particularly fabulous fish (or mermaid, really).
The seafood- and pasta-focused menu includes Alioto’s much-discussed raviolo uovo, as well as the namesake agnolotti dal plin stuffed with chicken, lemon zest, brown butter, and chicken skin. There is also a raw tuna dish with figs, mascarpone cream, and balsamic vinegar, as well as a fried lobster dish with onion and mushroom consommé. (The menu should be posted on the site soon.)
At the bar, Daniel Federico (of Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles) has created a selection of Italian-inspired and seasonal drinks, like the Americano Sour with rye whiskey, Carpano Antica, Cappelletti Aperitivo, lemon, and egg white. Nunzio Alioto Jr., Alexander’s father, and Chuck Furuya are responsible for the wine list, which will include a selection of wines by the glass and half glass, as well as a reserve list.
The restaurant’s hours are Tue-Sun 5pm-11pm. 280 Valencia St. at 14th St., 415-655-9510.
Ravi Kapur's Upcoming Restaurant Name Revealed (Liholiho Yacht Club), Kevin Diedrich Named Bar Director
Things are once again moving forward for chef Ravi Kapur’s upcoming restaurant project in the TenderNob with partners Jeff Hanak and Allyson Jossel of Nopa/Nopalito—permits have been secured, construction has started (yay), and now it’s time to share a few updates. First off, the team has decided to name the project LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB after all. (Liholiho has been the name of Kapur’s pop-up around town after he left Prospect a couple years back.) It’s a fun and personal name, connecting him to the name of his uncle’s pop-up in Maui 30 years ago. Kapur says the name helps reference the Hawaiian elements in his cooking style—it’s a nod to his heritage and the lens he now uses to view food and handle ingredients. I’m happy that the cuisine style will be following the path of what we were tasting at Kapur’s Liholiho pop-ups—I thought the food was so exciting, flavorful, and uniquely his, and of course his ingredient sourcing is tops.
Another big piece of news I’ve been holding under my hat is that Kevin Diedrich has been brought on as bar director. Not only is Diedrich a wicked talented barman, but he also shares some ties to Hawaii—his wife is from there—so they all share a strong sentiment of ohana (“family”). Diedrich has wrapped up his involvement at Gaspar Brasserie, and is working some shifts around town in the meantime (you can find him at The European and ABV).
For now, the new target for the opening is late fall/early winter. I had a chance to tour the raw space in the beginning of the year, and it’s a spacious one, with two levels (the bar will be downstairs). The architect is Brett Terpeluk (Farina), and I can’t wait for more details to be released about how the style of the space—it’s assuredly going to be a looker (love the brick walls and skylights). 871 Sutter St. at Leavenworth.
In the meantime, Kapur is going to be cooking a new pop-up series on Thursday evenings in August at BLOODHOUND. This pop-up is called Paniolo Social, and will feature fun, casual, Hawaiian-inspired drinking food: think spicy noodles, yakitori, poke bowls, seasonal sashimi, and aloha dogs. To be clear, these aren’t test dishes for the upcoming restaurant, just Kapur and Bloodhound having some fun. Come by on Thursdays in August, starting at 4pm until they’re sold out (the first one is Thursday August 7th). 1145 Folsom St. at 7th.
It looks like the NAMU GAJI team is getting ready to open another outpost, this time in Dogpatch. Scoop reports that the new location (which doesn’t have an official name yet) is all about noodles. After their successful Monday noodle nights, and chef/partner Dennis Lee’s experience cooking in the neighborhood at Smokestack, they decided to bring their flavor to a new corner of the city. They won’t be focused on one type of noodle, though many will make appearances, including ramen and naengmyeon, a cold Korean noodle soup.
They’ll have a full liquor license, which means a large selection of not just sake and sochu but also Japanese whiskies and other spirits. The space will seat about 70, though a large portion of the 3,000-square-foot space will become a commissary kitchen for their street food operation and retail products. Right now, they’re hoping to open by the end of the year. 2405 3rd St. at 22nd St.
After vacating his original location in the Usual Suspects Cafe on Broadway, KIRIMACHI chef-owner Leonardi Gondoputro has found a new place at the Embarcadero Center. He said there is currently a tenant in the space, but he plans to open before the holiday season (ideally November). Not only will he be serving ramen, but there will be both Japanese and local craft beers on the menu. And if all goes well, Leo mentioned he’ll be making his own noodles too. Stand by for more in coming months.
We told you last week that FERRY PLAZA SEAFOOD was opening in its new North Beach location on Monday July 28th, and now we’ve got some additional details on the new spot. We swung by for a pre-opening party last week, and it’s practically kitty corner to Washington Square Park. The new space seats 49, with room for 11 at the bar and there are some outside tables; it has a minimal look, with elements of the previous location incorporated throughout: the tables are made with marble salvaged from the bar, and the taxidermy marlin and salmon still grace the walls, although now there’s a new salmon mural (by local artist Letty Samonte) too.
Many classics remain on executive chef Joey Ng’s menu, along with some new choices since there is now a kitchen at this location. There is now a larger oyster selection, with six current varieties and an additional six to nine more coming soon (depending on availability). There will also be a rotating meat dish on the menu, and a house-ground burger will make an appearance. There’s a new wine list, with white, rosé, bubbly, and red options, plus six beers on tap, and four by the bottle. There are plans in the works to offer lunch and happy hour in September, too. Right now, hours are Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. Closed Sunday. 653 Union St. at Columbus, 415-274-2561.
As previously mentioned on tablehopper, chef Ryan Scott has a new project in Potrero Hill, called MASON. It’s now open, serving Scott’s take on modern pub food. There’s a pizza oven, so look for pies on the menu, like a Margherita with smoked mozzarella ($12), along with small plates like radishes with cracklings, butter, and sea salt ($6) and deviled eggs with bacon, chives, and paprika ($6). Larger plates include choices like gnocchi with sweet corn, pancetta, and uni ($11), and smoked short rib with potato purée, cress, pickled cherry tomatoes, and horseradish ($14). There is also a soft-serve ice cream machine (porter floats, anyone?), local beer on tap, and a wallet-friendly wine list of bottles that top out at $30 (wines by the glass are also available). Hours are Mon-Thu 4pm-11pm, Fri 11am-11pm, and 10:30am-3pm and 4pm-11pm Sat-Sun. 338 De Haro St. at 16th St., 415-255-9335.
There’s some good news to report at CAFE FLORE in the Castro, a landmark location that has been hosting guests on its garden patio since 1973. I was happy to hear that owner JD Petras has brought on Stu Gerry and Brett Klinker as managing partners, along with silent partner Pat McKune. Anyone who has ever met Stu during his 16 years at Bix will understand why his involvement is great news—there’s a reason he was one of my favorite servers in the city: he really takes care of his guests. While I was sad to lose Stu from the floor at Bix to the world of real estate not too long ago, I’m glad his touch will be felt at Cafe Flore. (Klinker and McKune hail from the Hi Dive, so now we have some experienced industry folks involved.)
The plan is to restore and rejuvenate the space gradually through small changes, like they are now offering beer on tap instead of just in bottles, and you’ll discover there’s new table service instead of having to wait in line to order a refill of your mimosa at the counter. The liquor and cocktail program is getting an update, the menu (by Shellie Kitchen) is getting tweaked (the Caesar salad is back), and look for things to get cleaned up, adjusted, and refreshed in coming weeks.
Stu and the gang know and respect how iconic the venue is, and are “looking to the past to inform their future changes.” Example: the cafe’s original architect, Alfred Finnila, was the chief iron worker for the Golden Gate Bridge, and designed the Bridge Roundhouse (now the visitor and gift center)—well, guess what Flore’s redesigned DJ booth is going to look like? Yup. What will be projected on the walls? How about Whatever Happened to Susan Jane? a cult film that was filmed at Cafe Flore?! Look for changes like this and more in coming months, which means the location’s 24-hour entertainment license and the fact it’s the only place in the city where you can drink alcohol on the sidewalk are going to be fully realized and appreciated (and many of Flore’s weekly events, like Sunday trivia night, will continue). I look forward to having a reason to come back to Flore’s pretty (and heated) patio and seeing some much-needed TLC in effect. 2298 Market St. at Noe, 415-621-8579.
A few weeks ago I wandered over to RITUAL COFFEE ROASTERS for an afternoon iced coffee, and noticed there was quite a bit of construction going on. Owner Eileen Hassi Rinaldi has a big update for us, so let’s get to it. First things first: the shop is closed for the next three weeks or so, but they are hosting a pop-up out of Lost Weekend Video, right next door. You can grab your coffee from 7am-2pm. Nice solution!
It has been nearly ten years since Ritual opened, and Eileen says the poor café was falling apart from all the use (the floors were worn through!). She says the remodeled space will be opened up, and you’ll be able to see clear to the back when you walk in (they are working with Daniel Piechota of Sagan-Piechota on the space). There will be a garden in the back (for viewing only), designed by Daniel Nolan of Flora Grubb Gardens, and Laura Stevenson, a Mission-based artist and fabricator, is doing a really cool neon light fixture/installation. When they reopen, Paul Madonna’s work will be on the walls (it’s the ten-year anniversary of “All Over Coffee”).
The new brew bar is designed to be interactive, and they’ll do their usual V60 drip plus AeroPress (sometimes), as well as brew demos and daily tastings. A second espresso machine is being added, a custom Synesso (pretty rare in the Bay Area), so your espresso drink service will be a little quicker. The pastry lineup will include treats from Mr. Holmes, Sandbox Bakery, and gluten-free items from FlourChylde, and teas are from Song Tea.
One more cool thing: a parklet designed by Seth Boor of Boor Bridges will also be coming, but timing is currently TBD on that component. Congrats on the remodel, Ritual! We’ll see you in August. 1026 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-641-1011.
Last week, I was invited to check out the new lunch service at FARALLON which officially started today (it’s served in the Jellyfish Lounge and Oyster Bar). Whether you’re looking for a spot for a leisurely “ladies who lunch” kind of vibe, a lunch date, a birthday lunch, or even for a nicer business lunch, this should do nicely.
The lunch menu includes small bites ($6), like Dungeness crab toast with a piquillo aioli, and of course there are a variety of oysters from the oyster bar ($2 each), including Coromandels from New Zealand and Fanny Bays from British Colombia. Caviar service, check. My lunch date and I enjoyed the little gems Caesar salad and the smoked sturgeon with brioche toast (both $10), but the winner was the lobster roll ($18) on a soft housemade brioche roll. The tuna panino ($18) was also very good—it’s a bit like a tuna melt with a layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano inside. The stone fruit galette with amaretto crème fraiche by pastry chef Terri Wu makes for a good finish. And whatever you do, be sure to have some Champagne. Lunch is served Tue-Sat 11:30am-3pm. You can stick around and seamlessly slide into happy hour, which begins at 3pm, with $6 specials on small bites, cocktails, beer and wine. 450 Post St. at Powell, 415-956-6969.
Last week, anyone who attended the tablehopper and Campari America event, Una Serata a Roma, would agree that 54 MINT is the perfect location for aperitivo on their beautiful patio. Well, guess what: starting this week, you can enjoy their new daily aperitivo from 4pm-6pm, with complimentary snacks, and 2-for-1 on all wine by the glass and select beers. You’ll also find some special cocktails for $8 (including Aperol Spritz and the Negroni Sbagliato!). Take a look at the aperitivo menu full of goodies here.
One last thing to note: BAR AGRICOLE is now serving Saturday and Sunday brunch, starting August 2nd, from 11am-2pm. Other deals you’ll want to take note of include their $6 sandwiches for lunch Tue-Fri, and there’s also an oyster happy hour with $2 oysters Tue-Sat 5pm-6pm and all day on Sunday, along with cocktail, beer, and wine specials that go well with oysters ($6 cocktails, $3 Stiegl lager, and $6 muscadet).
Bar Agricole - 355 11th St. San Francisco - 415-355-9400
At a Giants game with a hankering for good pizza? You’re in luck: Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana has opened SLICE HOUSE BY TONY GEMIGNANI in AT&T Park. To start, they’ll be offering cheese and pepperoni slices, with Chicago Italian beef sandwiches and stromboli coming up to bat soon. View Level, Section 314, AT&T Park.
Getting ready for Outside Lands and all the awesome food and beverages available at the festival? Yeah, us too. If you’d like to skip the cash, and even save a little dough, check out the Paypal app, which allows you to buy all the food and drink you need from your phone, so you can leave your wallet at home. Plus, many vendors are offering $3 off your purchase if you use the app, including Il Cane Rosso, Chino, and Wise Sons. Sweet!
LONG BRIDGE PIZZA in Dogpatch has secured a beer and wine license, making their pies even tastier. There are two beers on tap, along with some in bottles, and wine by the glass. 2347 3rd St. at 20th St., 415-829-8999.
Here’s a cool new pop-up to check out! Starting this Wednesday July 30th, Nudnik Foods is popping up every Wednesday evening at Linea Caffe in the Mission. Chef Dena Ehrlich is preparing fresh, modern Israeli-style food, including a weekly brik (fried meat hand pie), vegan soups, and grain salads. A recent preview menu included ground beef brik with boiled egg, a grilled eggplant and zucchini salad with pinenuts, and carrot saffron soup. There are also date shakes, Linea’s iced coffee, and delicious cookies. The pop-up starts at 5pm and goes until they run out. 3417 18th St. at San Carlos.
After his first pop-up a couple of weeks ago, chef Kevin Castellanos is doing more of his Salvi dinners at Bocadillos on Sunday August 3rd and 17th from 4:30pm-8:30pm. He’ll be serving his modern take on the Salvadorean dishes he grew up eating, including costillas de puerco, or pork ribs with white bean stew, and pupusas made with summer squash and cheese. Check out the menu here, and follow along on Twitter for more updates. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington, 415-982-2622.
As previously mentioned on tablehopper, food truck LIBA FALAFEL now has a brick-and-mortar location in Uptown Oakland too. After closely following the opening with owner Gail Lillian the past few months, we’re happy to report that it is now open! The space clocks in at 1,400 square feet, with a menu much like their truck. The freshly housemade falafel are available either as a sandwich or salad, with an open bar of seasonal toppings that allow maximum customization. Some sample offerings from the current menu include Moroccan carrot, braised eggplant in tomato sauce, and grilled curried peaches—they change weekly. For now, hours are Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, and will eventually expand to Mon-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 380 17th St. at Webster, 415-806-5422.
Temescal Alley is getting a brand new ice cream spot, one we’ve been tracking since running a mention last year. CURBSIDE CREAMERY, from owner Victoria Wentworth, has been operating as a mobile ice cream tricycle while the new space in Temescal Alley was under construction. It’s now ready, and the grand opening will be on Friday August 1st. Wentworth specializes in ice cream sandwiches, and also offers lots of vegan ice creams made with nut bases, in addition to seasonal fruit sorbet. She’ll also be offering gluten-free cones, so the tiny space will be able to accommodate lots of dietary restrictions. Don’t worry, though, there will be plenty of classic ice cream. Flavors include bourbon whiskey vanilla, mint stracciatella, and Thai iced tea. A soft serve machine is coming soon, too. Hours will be Tue-Sun 12pm-6pm to start, though they may change in the coming weeks. 482 49th St. at Telegraph, 510-250-9804.
Eater reports that BELLY is now open in Uptown Oakland. It comes from pair Alice Woo and Alan Chun, who moved here from Southern California. It’s all about the fusion tacos and burritos that are so popular down south, with Asian flavors in the meats and fixin’s. There’s the spicy, honey-roasted pork belly with pickled cucumbers and sesame slaw, or the surf, a panko-fried fish with sesame slaw, avocado, and sour cream. They’ve also got burgers, fries, and salads; take a look at the full menu here. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-8pm, with later hours coming soon, along with a beer and wine license. 1901 San Pablo Ave. at 19th St., Oakland, 510-839-0000.
Periscope Cellars in the Swan Building in downtown Oakland is getting ready to expand into a full bar, with wine, cocktails, and bar snacks. According to a post on their website, once the expansion is complete the name will be changed to DEEP ROOTS RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR. They will continue to serve Periscope wines, as well as some additional pours from local wineries. While the build-out and remodel continues, the wine bar will be closed; we’ll let you know when the new project reopens! 907 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland.
Fellow Champagne lovers, you now have a new clubhouse to hang out in: the SAN FRANCISCO CHAMPAGNE SOCIETY. Owner Bill Marci is a Champagne fanatic, and has created a very intimate tasting room space in SoMa where fellow enthusiasts can make a reservation, and then come drink very special bubbles. His loft space was inspired by the many personal-feeling tasting rooms he has encountered in France, when you can sit with the winemaker and learn about their wines. Marci is particularly taken with small grower-producers, and he may also include some cava, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines down the road.
Reservations are accepted from 11am-10pm (email here) (you can also text to that address), and there’s also the option to take over the space for a private event (there’s room for 15). You can arrange for certain Champagnes to be poured, or in the case of Friday nights, there are flights already set up. Take a look at the inaugural flights for Friday August 1st, featuring Champagnes from Marc Hebrart and L. Aubry Fils, available individually or as four two-ounce pours for $45. The address will be revealed once your reservation is made. Salud!
Brush up on your cocktail knowledge on Sunday evenings at RED DOG’s new Cocktail University. Every month, they’ll select a different cocktail theme, like a historical period, a region, or a specific style, and then bar manager James Goad will lead a small cocktail seminar on the theme, with food to pair. The first in the series is this Sunday August 3rd at 6pm, and the theme is New Orleans. Drinks will be along the lines of a Ramos Fizz, Sazerac, and Vieux Carré, and for food look for cornmeal fried oysters and green tomatoes with rémoulade, dirty rice arancini, and Lake Tahoe crawfish étouffée, with beignets for dessert. The seminars cost $45 per person and are limited to ten people, so email for your spot now.