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Sep 7, 2006 05:17 AM

Delfina Dinner Report- San Francisco

7PM reservation for dinner last night for two, my first time there. I was quite excited, been trying to go there for ages!

The place was hopping and just got busier as the night went on. However, service was prompt, one might even say speedy, and we never felt neglected.

We shared the following:

- Trio of crostini ($8.50): 3 crostini, chicken liver, fava bean with parmesan, and whitebean with a fish roe that was bright yellow in color- i couldn't remember the name. All were good, but as I'm not a big fan of chicken liver, the fava bean was the table favorite. Whitebean was good, but the fish roe was almost citrusy and didn't add much.

- Spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and peperoncini ($11): Just had to try the legendary staple there and weren't disappointed. Nice chewy al dente pasta that soaked up just enough sauce, the right amount of heat and garlic. The only thing that did bother me was that plum tomatoes were used. I know that Craig Stoll is a fan of quality canned tomatoes, but with tomato season in full swing, it would've been nice if he made it with fresh tomatoes right now.

- Wolfe Ranch quail with polenta, house-made fennel sausage and vin santo ($21): I was a little hesisant about quail since I cooked a lot of it recently, but this was nice. Basically spatchcooked and served in 3 pieces (so maybe it was 1.5 quail?), with perfect polenta that wasn't too gummy- soaked up the sauce nicely. The fennel sausage was slightly crispy and a nice foil to the other flavors on the plate. This entree was sandwiched b/t the steak and chicken on the menu- I had read on Chowhound that this was where they place the "interesting" rotating item to try, and I'm glad I did.

- Golden raspberry crostata with what seemed like a marscapone-like filling, with red raspberries and coulis on the side. The crust was amazing- hard to cut into intially, but it wasn't tough, just more like a cookie. Filling was light, airy, and not too sweet. Raspberries and coulis on the side didn't add much, but I really liked the whole thing.

With two glasses of wine, the bill came to $70 before tip. We were both full but not overly so, and I really liked the neighborhood vibe of the place. Saw someone order roast chicken, which seemed a huge portion.

I actually liked the whole experience better than A16, where the food was good, but was a little too yuppie and girls-night-out atmosphere for me. Plus, how can you go wrong when you are able to pick up a scone and a ham-and-cheese crossaint from Tartine before dinner?

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  1. Are you sure the tomatoes were canned? Fresh plum tomatoes are available locally.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wally

      I'm not sure since I didn't ask. I only assumed b/c he didn't list where the tomatoes were from.

      1. re: chezchristine

        That pasta always uses canned tomatoes from Italy, that's what makes that dish incredibly consistent all year. I believe the Tripe alla Fiorentina also uses canned tomatoes year round. One of the things I love about Delfina is that they have some comfort dishes that are on the menu year round, and are executed so well that regulars order them too:
        -Insalata del campo – Bitter greens, pancetta, walnuts, parmigiano and balsamic vinaigrette
        -Salt cod mantecato with walnut oil and fennel seed flatbread
        -Spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and peperoncini
        -Tripe alla Fiorentina
        -Roasted Fulton Valley chicken with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and royal trumpet mushrooms
        -Niman Ranch flatiron steak and French fries

        And then most of the rest of the menu is based on availability of seasonal ingredients. So if you feel like fresh tomatoes right now, you can order any of the other dishes on the menu with tomatoes. On tonight's menu, for example, they have:
        -Gazpacho Andaluz
        -Fresh-stretched mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and basil oil
        -Wood-oven roasted eggplant with tomato and basil
        -Fregnacce with fresh Florida white shrimp and oven-dried tomatoes
        -California sea bass with Umbrian lentils, smoked bacon and cherry tomato conserva
        which must all be using fresh local tomatoes.

    2. IMO, canned San Marzano tomatoes from southern Italy are always better than any fresh, local tomatoes for a sauce like this. There's something about the flavor and acid level that makes the San Marzano better.