Latin highs - Page 2

A new chef livens up beloved Italian tradition Oliveto, and sexy Gitane intensifies its regional Spanish focus

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A surprising fritto misto at Oliveto
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY VIRGINIA MILLER

Though they've combined Spanish and Moroccan influence since day one, Bridget and Patrick's recent Spain travels allow them to now dig deeper into regional Spanish cuisine. The first regional focus was Valencia. The tasting menu began with a salad of baby beets, fuyu persimmon, Marcona almonds, citrus, nasturtium paired with honeysuckle notes of a Musva Moscatel from Valencia. Moving on, Dungeness crab and cuttlefish were touched with sea urchin vinaigrette and pineapple. A delight of fatty Iberico pork cheeks, Matsutake mushroom and raw Nantucket Bay scallops sat in a brilliant golden raisin-saffron-mushroom coulis. Fourth course: pan-roasted duck breast in tempranillo chili puree accented by oloroso sherry-compressed pears (yes!) The finish? A winning pumpkin creme caramel.

An à la carte meal yielded an over-salted but beautifully seared scallop with crispy sweetbreads ($16). I preferred crisped, roasted artichokes piled with sunchokes and Manchego cheese ($13), or an entree of rabbit (conejo) two ways ($32): roasted saddle and a dreamy riletta, accompanied by braised snails and caramelized squash. Ramon Garcia remains Bar Manager, still serving refreshing cocktails ($12) like an elegantly smoky Chimenea: mezcal, rye, allspice dram, maple syrup, orange bitters.

6 Claude Lane, SF. (415) 788-6686, www.gitanerestaurant.com

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