Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
The whole underground restaurant movement has become so above-ground that I find myself overwhelmed by the options. I just can’t seem to commit.
However, a few weeks ago, a couple of friends invited my husband and I to a dinner put on by the Naked Kitchen—and I’m really glad we went. I’m a cynic at heart and when I went to the restaurant's site and read their mission statement—“At Naked Kitchen, we take you on a creative journey where food, wine and art unite in the present moment”—I’ll admit that my eyes rolled just a bit.
Nevertheless, we gamely found ourselves at a lovely Victorian house in the Mission District, smack in the middle of Valencia Street’s most bustling stretch, where chef Ryan Baker and Ian Mullen were working away in a huge, very covetable kitchen. We started out with a bit of bubbly on the porch and moved inside with the other guests to be seated at two long communal tables for dinner.
I actually set my notebook aside since this was pleasure, not business, so I don’t have the details of what we ate—wine plus good conversation tends to blur the memory a bit. But I do know that it was all inspired by NorCal summers and I vividly recall the pleasure of sitting across from our friends, chatting effortlessly like one might at a dinner party (versus screaming over a restaurant crowd), while the very kind chefs delivered a delicious multicourse meal that arrived with a swiftness only professionals can pull off. The wine is BYOB, so you only have yourself to blame for it. The next Naked Kitchen featuring the food of these talented guys is August 25. I suggest reserving seats as soon as they're for sale. (The price varies depending on the menu and isn't posted yet.)
Meanwhile, today, just in the nick of time (it's the end of the production cycle for our September fashion issue, the time of the month when every editor is starting to wilt), Casey’s Pizza delivered a few different pizzas to the office for us to try. Staking their claim as the first pizza truck in the Bay Area (I think this might be another way of saying, “Take that, you big beast Del Popolo!”), they also make a mighty nice New York-style margherita and a good old-school pepperoni, both with chewy, salty, thin crusts. On Fridays, Casey's is parked at Mission and New Montgomery in the Financial District and if you hurry up and get there by 1 pm, they have a "pizza truck happy hour," wherein slices are served and all pizzas are $1 off. Run!