Restaurant Review

Poesia

I like to watch
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paulr@sfbg.com

Since my Italian is limited to a few cuss words plus "prego," I was not able to follow the ins and outs of the Italian film being shown, Foreign Cinema–style, on the rear wall of Poesia, a lovely restaurant opened by Francesco D'Ippolito in March in one of the Castro's most haunted locales. Read more »

Pizza Place on Noriega

Dude, where's my pizza?
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paulr@sfbg.com

Surfer dudes are people too, and they get hungry just like the rest of us. Surprisingly, San Francisco has such dudes; unsurprisingly, they tend to cluster at the city's western edge, a land whose great highway is the Great Highway. Just beyond the Great Highway is the beach, pounded by surf, and surfer dudes (of any and all sexes) love the surf. Fog? This is irrelevant. Read more »

Loló

When Turkey met Mexico ...
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paulr@sfbg.com

The turkey is native to Mexico and one of the few animals to have been domesticated by the Indians. Turkey is central to Yucatecan cooking in particular — and by "turkey" I of course mean the bird, the roasted star of so many Thanksgivings, not the country east of Greece. No turkeys there (though plenty of lamb) or really any other connection to Mexico. Which makes Loló difficult to explain.

And what is Loló? A kind of soda? A male stripper? Read more »

L'Ardoise

Let's go to the board
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paulr@sfbg.com

The French love their chalk, and no wonder. Chalk makes possible some of France's most prized wines, from the sparkling cuvées of Champagne to the wonderful, minerally whites of the Loire Valley. It's also useful for writing on chalkboards, which tend to be ubiquitous in French restaurants and on sidewalk sandwich boards outside of same. Read more »

Prana

Hall of the disco king
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paulr@sfbg.com

Prana has a soundstage look of the sort we haven't seen in restaurants around here since the late 1990s, when Entros and Mercury lived their firefly-brief lives. The main dining room is a vast hall whose ceiling is supported by two parallel columns of whitewashed pillars. With some flagons of mead and a clutch of bit actors in Viking period costume, it's easy to imagine a scene from Beowulf being filmed there — maybe an early moment in which the warriors are sleeping one off while Grendel comes creeping from the bog.

But no. Read more »

Alembic

Raising the bar
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paulr@sfbg.com

If Cheers had served good food instead of cheap beer and persiflage, Dr. Frasier Crane might never have fled to Seattle to start anew. Also, the place might have come to resemble the Alembic, a smallish installation along upper Haight that has been distilled from that nearby citadel of suds, Magnolia Pub and Brewery, now an institution. Unlike Cheers, the Alembic isn't in a basement; it occupies a storefront that was most recently home to Maroc. Read more »

CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen

The big dig
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paulr@sfbg.com

You could, if you were inclined, step into CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen and do nothing but drink wine. The establishment opened on mid-Market in 2005 as a wine bar, after all, and the wine list is so extensive that it's actually presented as a bound volume. I've seen less impressive Bibles. But you could also, if you were inclined, step into CAV and eat food while not drinking wine, and you wouldn't necessarily think you were missing out. Read more »

SPQR

When in Rome ...
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paulr@sfbg.com

If all roads lead to Rome — or once did — what does this tell us about the Eternal City? That it has terrible traffic? Yes, eternally — since ancient times. That the city was and is an international city? Yes, again, though more so in yesteryear, when the imperial Romans called the Mediterranean Sea mare nostrum and grain grown in Egypt was shipped more than a thousand miles by boat to feed the capital's million or so citizens. Read more »

Piqueo's

The sauce king
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paulr@sfbg.com

When Carlos Altamirano opened his first restaurant, Mochica, on a drab block of Harrison Street in SoMa more than four years ago, I thought: well, Peruvian, that's interesting, but how good could it be if he had to put it there? Then I went and found out how good it could be: way good, extraordinary, probably the best Peruvian food in the city. Few pleasures are as exquisite as that of finding one's expectations exceeded.

And yet, in unlooked-for success, danger can lurk, too. Read more »

Pacific Catch

The filling station, continued
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paulr@sfbg.com

When a service station is torn down to make way for an art gallery, we cheer. When the art gallery folds and is succeeded by a restaurant, we shuffle our feet uneasily. At least they won't be tearing the building down to bring back the service station — but art galleries are harder to find than restaurants.

Pacific Catch is a pretty good seafood restaurant in a neighborhood already chockablock with restaurants. The prices are moderate, the service is friendly and efficient, the food is good, and the look is handsome in a not-overbearing way. Read more »