Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
It’s been an epic week of eating—often with a chaser of Alka-Seltzer. In fact, I’m trying to rush this blog so I can get over to try Del Popolo’s mobile pizzeria/art truck parked along Sydney Walton Square. Jon, our editor in chief, tried to get a taste of Jonathan Darksy’s pizza on Wednesday and they sold out early. It’s 11 a.m. I’ve got 30 minutes if I want to be first in line.
Last week I bum rushed Central Kitchen, a week into their opening. This great article in LA Weekly is talking LA, but it sums up the “casual insouciance” that S.F.'s restaurants are all about right now. (Apparently in 1985, Ruth Reichl coined this term and I intend to drop it in my next conversation and impress everyone). Following in the footsteps of Saison, Commonwealth and more, Central Kitchen is bringing this cultivated nonchalance to another level. Unlike Flour + Water with its hearty pastas, chef Thomas McNaughton is cooking anew here. He's elevated his food to something fine, hyper-seasonal, and delicate—all countered with casual service and classic rock. Tablecloths aren’t even a conversation at this point. In fact, they’ve been so willfully discarded that the next hip-chic restaurant will probably use them as a counterculture statement.
For lunch last Friday, I met the charming Liam Mayclem at Piperade, an old favorite of mine (Piperade, not Liam) that feels good about its tablecloths. I ordered their most beautiful and perfect butter lettuce salad tossed with herbs—and followed that with foie gras (may it soon r.i.p.), you know, to balance the health factor. That, plus a glass (ok, brinking on two) of the bright and refreshing Clos Pissara Garnatxa Blanca that chef Gerald Hirigoyen is making in Spain. The work meeting I attended after was particularly fun.
Then there was the party on the fire-pit-and-all roof of Hipstamatic’s very cool SoMa office to celebrate Cochon 555. I felt urban and cool standing up there sipping on my bourbon cocktail, the twinkling cityscape in the backdrop. Ravi Kapur, now of pop-up Liholiho Yacht Club, cooked and the food was fantastic: buns filled with thick slices of pork with black bean sauce and kimchee mayo, some amazing smoked octopus, and much more. I could go on.
Another great lunch I had was at Delfina Pizzeria on that glorious Sunday last week. D.P. is one of those restaurants that I love so much I’d burned myself out on it. Until caught offguard, I found myself consumed by a margherita craving again. Back in the saddle, I sat down with Joe and Mia (husband and step daughter) to a meal of a perfect spring salad of chickpeas, calamari, and argula with a liberal dose of olive oil, arancini filled with beef sugo, and a skillet filled with a coil of housemade sausage topped with tangy onion jam that I could have eaten by the spoonful and did. Pizza? We had plenty, but I’m telling you—those three dishes were knockouts. When D.P. is on, it’s on.
There was more to tell you next week. I also ate at Copita in Sausalito on Wednesday night and I’m going to Local’s Corner tonight. Then there’s Ravi Kapur’s pop-up on Monday (after trying his food at the party, I instantly made a reservation) and Meadowood on Wednesday night.
My mother thinks my work life is eye-rollingly privileged, which it is. I never take it for granted. But Mom—just for you: Last night I stopped by my little corner store, bought one of those dubious food-in-a-bag things of chana dal from Tasty Bite Indian food (why a packet is scarier than a can, I don’t know), and heated it up in the microwave with some four-day leftover basmati rice. I poured myself a glass of cheap rosé, sat on the couch, flipped on "So You Think You Can Dance?" and made a tablecloth out of my lap. And I had seconds.
P.S. It’s now 2 pm and the pizza at Del Popolo is surely sold out.