Pumpkin cheesecake from Noe Valley Bakery. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello hello! I know I’m not the only one fired up for this short week, whew. The past couple weeks have had me waaaay over-busy, including the two Jewish Food Society events I helped produce (check out my Reel recap here!), and last Friday, I had the opportunity to interview Phil Rosenthal of Somebody Feed Phil for his book tour appearance on stage at the Palace of Fine Arts. Interacting with his audience of 900 amazing fans was an incredible experience—I loved hearing how his show has inspired so many folks to travel and see the world. So uplifting! Another big lift: seeing The Flaming Lips perform at The Warfield on Saturday night, what a show.
I have some exciting news updates for you in today’s column, and I’m also including a recap from my summer press trip to Greece when I went to learn about kiwis! (Stand by for my piece on cherries next!)
If you haven’t figured out your Thanksgiving reservations or takeout or pies yet, I have a ton of tips in my Instagram Thanksgiving Highlights, which can be helpful for you last-minute folks!
As you can imagine, there are so many special meals and events and experiences coming up for the holidays. Look for my Instagram Holiday Highlights for all the latest on Hanukkah latkes and winter cocktails and Christmas dinners and more (I’ll be updating it daily).
I know many of you are gearing up for holiday shopping since this is the week of crazy sales. I wanted to be sure you knew I’m going to be doing another hopper holiday gift bag this year in case you want to shop small and local! Like in years past, I’m curating a bunch of unique, quality, and delicious products from local restaurants, bars, and makers. And just wait until you see this year’s tote! (I’m just sayin’.) Stand by for details VERY SOON! It isn’t easy putting this all together, so I hope you’re still excited to support our local F&B industry and community for a third year by purchasing this awesome tote of artisanal treats!
Wishing you a beautiful Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Native American Heritage Day, and holiday. I have so much to be grateful for, and you’re a big part of that, so thank you. I’m looking forward to getting together with my adorable family (sis and I are bringing our kitties, so the grand-cats will surely be getting spoiled with lots of snuggles and bites of turkey). Wishing you safe travels, good health, and happy times at the table.
Gratefully yours, Marcia Gagliardi
BAR SPREZZATURA just opened yesterday (Monday November 21st) from TableOne Hospitality (from Michael Mina, Patric Yumul, and Highgate), partner and barman Carlo Splendorini, and TableOne Hospitality’s director of beverage, Phil Collins (don’t sing “Sussudio” to him, I’m sure he has heard it before). This Italian bar takes inspiration from Venetian bar culture and bacaros (wine bars), with spritzes, cocktails, cicchetti (bar snacks), and larger plates.
We all know how Financial District businesses are suffering, but here’s hoping that if you build something glamorous enough, customers will come (I can’t wait to check it out). The swanky space was designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, inspired by Venice (Italy). There’s a marble bar featuring marbles in Rosso Alicante and Gallo Siena, with upholstered bar stools, and antiqued mirror inserts across the back bar. Lighting includes four large standing light features that look like modernist lamp posts, with smaller table lights on the bar and tables in the lounge area, which has club chairs and low-slung curving loveseats in mustard and dusty blue. (It’s kind of giving me a glam Harry’s Bar [in Venice] vibe.) There’s also an outdoor terrace.
It’s open for lunch, and transforms into an aperitivo, cocktail, and cicchetti bar at night. The cocktail list includes original cocktails, five Negronis, spins on some classic cocktails, spritzes, and zero-proof options—I just wish there was a classic Venetian spritz al bitter on there. Their play on a Bellini, the Ciao, Bella, combines ruby red grapefruit and pink peppercorn sorbet with Prosecco. Since they’re doing a Venetian theme, I’m also requesting a sgroppino. (I lived in Venezia for a year, so I have some special requests.) The wine list is coastal-inspired, focusing on natural, organic, and smaller family producers.
The all-day menu by executive chef Joseph Offner (The Bungalow Kitchen) features Laughing Bird shrimp with lardo and lemon; guanciale meatballs “Polpette Di Patrizio”; Venetian classics like baccalà mantecato (whipped salt cod) and carpaccio; some quality salumi (including culatello di Zibello); panini; Roman-inspired pizza al taglio; salads; and dishes like sepe al nero (Venetian for nero di seppie/cuttlefish with their ink) with polenta; and fresh bigoli with Liberty Duck ragù, orange, and clove.
Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm for lunch and dinner. One Maritime Plaza, 300 Clay St. #100 at Front.
New Openings Include Reem's California at the Ferry Building, Saru Handroll Bar, Bernal Bakery, The Laundromat, Marigold Café, and More
Newly open at the Ferry Building Marketplace is another location of Reem Assil’s REEM’S CALIFORNIA, offering some classic dishes (like the mana’eesh, or Arab flatbread, including the Classic with za’atar, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint, and the Pali Cali with sumac chicken, caramelized onion purée, arugula, and pickled onion), plus new dishes exclusive to the Ferry Building location (like the MLM, with Akkawi cheese, sujuk spicy salami, tomatoes, and arugula), and seasonal dishes inspired by ingredients from Foodwise Ferry Plaza Farmers Market vendors and Ferry Building merchants.
The kiosk will be focused on grab-and-go street food dishes (although there is a counter where you can sit), including housemade dips, freshly baked pita, savory and sweet pastries, cookies, and some beverages, too, like their cardamom cold brew. It’s a full-circle moment, since Reem’s got its start on the back plaza of the market seven years ago. Opening hours: Thu-Fri 11am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm. 1 Ferry Building, Suite 19.
Back in October, I reported on the transformation of Saru Sushi Bar’s second location in Russian Hill into SARU HANDROLL BAR, featuring temaki handrolls, and it’s now open. They mention they are still waiting on their alcohol license, so you are more than welcome to BYOB. No reservations. Open Wed- Sun 5pm-9pm. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.
Available this Wednesday November 23rd is a pre-Thanksgiving pick-up of goodies from BERNAL BAKERY in their new space! They wiil be open from 9am-1pm at 1501 Cortland Avenue, and Liminal Coffee will be serving up hot coffee (place your preorder with this link! Hello, gorgeous croissants.).
You may remember this pandemic pop-up from restaurant industry couple Daniella Banchero and Ryan Stagg, who started baking bread (and cinnamon rolls and cookies) in their home during lockdown as a way to pay the rent, and would lower the baked goods to customers on the sidewalk in a basket on a pulley! Well, they have scaled up significantly over the past couple years, with a stand at farmers’ markets around the Bay Area and lining up a number of wholesale accounts/grocery stores, and now they’re opening their very own bakery. While they won’t have a storefront for now, it seems that will change in time. Follow their Instagram account @bernal_bakery for updates.
My “marinara brother” @knucklesamwick brought me a warm and pillowy (read: huge) and golden-deeeeelicious bagel from the newly open THE LAUNDROMAT in the Outer Richmond, featuring bagels in the morning from Kevin Rodgers and Jenna O’Connell of Holey Roller (with really tasty schmears!), and salads and pizza in the evening, plus beer, wine, and vermouth drinks. What Now SF reported the CinemaSF owners (Jaimi Holker and Adam Bergeron) are partners on the project—they operate the beloved Balboa Theater across the street. Closed on Tue. 3725 Balboa St. at 38th Ave.
There’s a new coffee shop called MARIGOLD CAFÉ that opened in the Marigold flower shop in the Mission. Look for coffee from Heart Roasters, and pastries from Black Jet Baking Co. and Le Dix-Sept. Open Mon-Fri 7:30am-2pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm. 2681 21st St. at York.
There’s a new, teeny-tiny sake bar (like six seats and two tables!) serving craft sake, sashimi, and koryori (small plates of Japanese home cooking) called CHIKA AND SAKE, now open near Japantown. (It was recently the short-lived Sushi Aoba, and for my fellow SF old timers, it was previously Kiss Seafood.) Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm, reservations recommended. 1700 Laguna St. at Sutter. [Via Eater]
I’m happy to see North Beach continue to percolate with new openings. Now open in the former Caffe Baonecci space is CONVIVIUM ENOTECA, from Sofia Scarpone. In case her last name is familiar, she’s the daughter of Lorenzo Scarpone, known for his Italian wine importing company, Villa Italia, and an early supporter and ambassador of Slow Food, working closely with founder Carlo Petrini for 32 years. Lorenzo is from Abruzzo, and his children have grown up with the food and wine from the region, as well as being steeped in the values of Slow Food (good, clean, fair food). As originally reported in What Now SF, Sofia used to work at A16, and has lived and worked in Rome as well.
Rotating dishes on the menu will feature some Abruzzese classics, like arrosticini (skewers) and spaghetti alla chitarra, but will also highlight dishes from other regions, like a trofie pasta dish from Sicily. (The part-time chef is from Puglia.) But these won’t all be traditional dishes: there will be inventive small plates, like a savory cannolo with mortadella mousse (!), or filet mignon tartare with osetra caviar, and larger dishes, like eggplant parmigiana alla Convivium, with couscous, avocado, and tomato confit. Some Japanese and other Asian ingredients will also be making appearances.
Of course, the extensive wine list will feature Italy prominently, but there are also Californian wines, biodynamic wines, and more. Look for six-seven whites and reds by the glass (each), and 70-80 bottles.
Community and conviviality are a big part of this project—it’s important to the family to showcase and preserve Italian culture and history in North Beach. Sofia is passionate about involving the artist community, musicians, and more, and she is committed to creating a space of inclusivity, where everyone is welcome (even people who don’t drink—Sofia knows how to take good care of you!).
In fact, the space used to be home to Danilo Bakery (for 36 years, until 2005), and the Scarpones reused the former plank the bakers used to knead bread dough into a counter for the enoteca. There’s room for 25-30 guests, with a small room and bar in the front, and two private rooms in the back. Dava Guthmiller of Noise 13 (the local design shop that designed the tablehopper newsletter and website many years ago!) consulted on the design of the space and branding, and has been an amazing support.
Things are a little wonky with hours this week because of the holiday, but they will be open Wed-Sun 5pm-10pm (except Thursday/Thanksgiving this week). 516 Green St. at Grant.
Now open in the former Franchino is ELENA, a Mediterranean restaurant from Nader Parhizgari of Nature Stop grocery. This interview on Joe Content mentions the menu spans Turkey, Greece, and Spain, featuring halal meats, and the wine list is focused on small producers. Open Sun and Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm, and Fri-Sat 11am-3pm for lunch and 5pm-9pm for dinner. 347 Columbus Ave. at Grant.
A tablehopper reader wrote in with a tip that LUKE’S LOCAL appears to be opening another location of their popular grocery store (also known for their deli and prepared foods) on Green Street (What Now SF spotted the permit filing back in September). I was able to get confirmation that they’re opening in winter 2023—additional details are coming soon. 580 Green St. at Stockton.
Big congrats to Dontaye Ball, aka Mr. Gumbo, the chef-owner of GUMBO SOCIAL, who has the keys to his first brick-and-mortar location in Bayview (the former Frisco Fried)! Ball is an Outer Sunset farmers’ market favorite, as well as at the Soma West Farmers Market on Saturdays, and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Thursdays. He’ll be bringing build-your-own gumbo to this new location, as well as other soul food favorites, including five po’ boys, and vegan options, like his California Greens dish. He’s hoping to open in March 2023, and just launched a Kickstarter to help get some wind beneath his wings. Please read his personal note and support this Black-owned, family-operated business! 5176 3rd St. at Thomas.
I went to an event last week at the Italian consulate with Farming Hope, who announced some big news: REFETTORIO SAN FRANCISCO is moving from their location at the former Cala in Hayes Valley to their new permanent home: the former San Francisco Cooking School at 690 Van Ness! It will house their job training kitchen and community food hub, helping individuals overcome barriers to employment while feeding it forward to the community. In a follow-up email, they mention: “We’re so excited to shepherd Jodi and Tony’s amazing vision for the space into its new life helping train a new population of the community in the culinary jobs while feeding our communities in need. To help kickstart our fundraising for the move, we launched our Harvest Club and invite everyone to join as our founding members in support of Farming Hope’s work.”
They will probably be moving into the new space in January. In the meantime, get tickets for their next guest chef dinner on December 5th with Penny Roma and Flour + Water’s culinary team. Tickets are available here.
The former Mozzeria in the Mission is going to be ANGIE’S PIZZA, offering wood-fired pizza from John McCloskey, an alum of Pizzetta 211 and Pizza Hacker. Opening December 2nd. 3228 16th St. at Guerrero. [Via Eater]
Earlier this year, I was invited on a press trip to Greece by The Charming Taste of Europe, as part of a campaign designed to showcase some of the EU’s quality agricultural products available for export to the US and Canada. This particular trip was highlighting Greek kiwis and cherries. When I told friends why I was going to Greece, many were puzzled and (most) had the same question: “There are kiwis in Greece?” I initially wondered the same thing, but after visiting the Kavala COOP consortium near the Aegean coast of northern Greece, it made perfect sense why Greece is now one of the top kiwi producers in the world. It ends up kiwis are Europe’s most-exported fruit!
The Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Kavala (Kavala COOP) was founded in 1927—today, it has 500 members that include producers from the provinces of Kavala, Nestos, and Thassos. Kavala is a top kiwi-producing region in the nation. We visited the kiwi processing facilities in Haidefto, and thanks to the highly irrigated area (there are canals everywhere), specialized agronomists started cultivating kiwis there 22 years ago. And with great success: the mild climate and fertile land were quite ideal, thanks to the Nestos River (the area was previously renowned for growing tobacco and corn).
Since we were there in June, there weren’t any ripe kiwis for us to try—harvest is in mid-October through early December. (What’s interesting is since Greece isn’t in the same hemisphere as New Zealand, they have different cultivation schedules.) Kiwis can be kept in cold storage for up to six months—at this facility, they can store 10 million kiwis in 52 refrigerated rooms while carefully monitoring the temperature, humidity, and oxygen levels. Kavala COOP exports kiwis throughout Europe (Spain buys the most), South Africa, USA, Canada, and other countries.
We toured the processing facility and the kiwi fields and learned about how they’re grown. Did you know kiwis grow on vines, not trees? It was fascinating to see them growing on pergola frames (like old-school grape vines!), which helps to provide shade. Another interesting fact: the cultivation team will pluck two kiwis off the vine and leave one to grow plump and sweet.
In the fall, Kavala COOP will separate the harvested kiwis into ten kinds (by weight and class). It ends up different markets have different preferences: France likes their kiwis small, Spain likes ‘em big. And since kiwis reportedly have two times the vitamin C of oranges, they were quite popular during the pandemic. I also learned that gold kiwis are sweeter and less reactive than green kiwis for some people who report feeling tingly lips or a swollen tongue when they eat them, so give the goldies a try.
In case you’re wondering how to say kiwi in Greek, it’s “aktinidio.” You’ll see Greeks using kiwis in pastries, smoothies, and as a topping on Greek yogurt or in parfaits, just like we do. The next time you’re buying kiwis, check and see where they’re from—they may have a Greek accent!