Seared foie gras at Haven.
Campo Pizzeria (Palo Alto)
The latest well-packaged project from the team behind Osteria Coppa has chef Robert Holt going well beyond margheritas. There are satisfying starters like veal-and-pork meatballs, along with pastas ranging from chicken lasagna to lamb pappardelle. Befitting its surroundings, Campo works as a casual adult evening or a college kid’s semispecial night out. 185 University Ave. (at Emerson St.), 650-614-1177 J.S.
Hillside Supper Club (Bernal Heights)
Tucked into a Victorian just off Precita Park, this welcome Bernal Heights addition serves a brief menu of refreshingly simple fare: a jar full of duck liver mousse, a sprightly arugula and apple salad. The tasty lamb sugo is oddly sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, but the chewy handmade cavatelli beneath it makes up for the quirk. Ultimately, Hillside is everything you want in a neighborhood joint: solid food, friendly service, and a taste of no-place-like-home. 300 Precita Ave. (at Folsom St.), 415-285-6005 S.D.
This restaurant’s name, Italian for “seaside promenade,” carries a hint of romance not often linked to Oakland’s waterfront, but the menu aims to keep the fantasy alive. Its old-world inspiration shows in fennel-scented Ligurian fish stew, cotechino sausages with Umbrian lentils, and a deliciously dense ribollita. Amiable service makes the sprawling space more intimate. There is—disappointing pizza notwithstanding— a bit of Italy to it after all. 1 Broadway (near Water St.), 510-444-7171 J.S.
Mission Street Oyster Bar (Mission)
This solo project from former Anchor Oyster Bar chef Fredy Gamez is a San Francisco rarity: a throwback restaurant without a trace of irony. Its laminated menu is also retro in substance, celebrating such coastal classics as scampi, and daily seafood specials are served with a veggie medley on the side. In a fittingly unfashionable setting, complete with marlin trophy mounted on a bluegreen wall, Gamez offers earnest, skillful versions of your grandparents’ cooking (the cioppino, in particular, is a hit). You wonder, though, how it will fly with a generation that likes its nostalgia with a nod and a wink. 2282 Mission St. (at 19th St.), 415-621-6987 J.S.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of San Francisco.