Report - Italian on Russian Hill (long)
Thanks for the suggestions for Italian on or around Russian Hill last week.
In the end, we ended up eating Italian 3 nights in a row... once at Antica, once at home, and once again at Frascati.
All three were really nice meals with good company, great atmosphere, unbelievable SF weather, and some tasty chow!
Personally, I enjoyed 'Antica' the most.
The food was very authentic, honest, and delicious.
- Papardelle w/ sauce of braised duck and tomato.
Fresh, wide egg noodles lightly covered in a simple but unique and wonderfully flavored sauce. Yum.
- Grilled Lamb medallions, wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto served in a light pool of natural juices (no flour thickening!) peppered with artichoke hearts.
- Mouth watering appetizer of warm goat cheese rolled up in grilled eggplant.
- Dessert called Copa Antica, a very unique, sweet finish. Can't explain it, you just gotta try it.
The ambience was classy without being stuffy and the service was warm and efficient and not a bit overwhelming or pretentious.
The wine list seemed very reasonable and the wine we ordered, a simple, inexpensive Chianti, was very nice and typical.
The only drawback to Antica, in my opinion, is the noise level. It really did require some effort for our table of six to make ourselves heard, not usually a problem for my boisterous Italian-American family!
But, surely, we will return to Antica.
Frascati proved to be a very nice meal as well.
The most notable difference between Frascati and Antica to me was, Frascati is not authentic Italian. Not sure I would even regard it as an Italian restaurant... more Cal-Med, despite the Italian name.
Frascati was also perhaps a bit warmer and more romantic. The setting is intimate, on Hyde St. atop Russian Hill, with dim lighting, candles, and views of the cable car running by.
Also, Frascati seemed more expensive than Antica.
Not sure if the menu is actually more expensive,
but it is one of those restaurants where the servers insist on pouring your wine and water as quickly as possible. Once you're liquids are running low, they immediately bring another bottle of water (without asking) or eagerly suggest another bottle of wine from the relatively expensive list (as if you have a choice when the entrees have yet to arrive)!
I don't know... I guess I just don't like the feeling that I need to be cautious about the waitcrew trying to pad my bill ! Not that the service was poor. In fact, if anything, it was freindlier and livelier than at Antica. But, well, you know what I mean.
Standout dishes at Frascati were a special appetizer of scallops, an arugula salad with endive and dry cherries, and center-cut pork chops with mashed potatoes and fresh, tiny string beans.
What made the night, however, were the desserts.
Creative and fun presentation, but definitely not at the expense of flavors.
So, next time I guess it will be Antica for dinner.
Good, honest Italian food with good, honest service!
Then on to Frascati for dessert.
Fun, creative sweets without having to worry about secret agendas to get us to drink (and buy) more coffee! :>)
We still need to try Allegro.
After entertaining the in-laws for a weekend,
I'm sure its time for some comforting 'pasta e ceci'
at least for me!
Thanks again for the suggestions, particularly for Antica, which was wonderful.