HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Farina?

A co-worker just asked me about a restaurant he saw around 18th and Guerrero called Farina. I saw the blip awhile back in SF Gate but he says it now looks open. Anybody have confirmation? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. It did not look open when I passed by yesterday, but did look close. I saw what looked like people filling out job applications.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pane

      I drove by tonight and it looked like they may have had a private dinner...? Or something. It certainly looks ready to open any day. No website that I could find. The place looks cool and it would be fun to go before the crowds descend. I live a few blocks away and although it is fun to live in the heart of the great restaurants getting a reservation is the same!

    2. According to tablehooper Farina opens tomorrow (Wednesday).

      1. Opening party was tuesday nite and open to public Wed (last nite). Went for dinner and it was so incredibly overpriced for what is was that i found it insulting. I just returned from Genoa so the food was good and foccacia authentic which was nice but prices not accurate at all. They do not have a liquor licence yet so send you accross the street to Bi-Rite to buy a bottle of wine and bring back with no corkage fee. The service was fine with a few kinks to be expected but overall a comfy place with nice people.

        6 Replies
        1. re: linda22

          What is the price range for pastas? Thanks!

          1. re: chaddict

            I just remember my primi hankercheif pasta with pesto was $16 and that was probably one of the lowest price because no meat. Not an expensive dish to make and very small as a primi plate. My fish of the day entree was a piece of halibut that didn't even taste fresh and had 1 cherry tomato, a few white potatoes and 1 olive. I swear. No flavor, no nuthin' and it was $25. Absurd.

            1. re: linda22

              Ouch! I wish they had a web site so I could see the menu.

              1. re: chaddict

                I was there last night as well. Nice place and friendly service but I agree the prices are a little steep for a casual place. I like that the pastas are "side" portions but they start at $16 if my memory serves me which seems crazy expensive. Had a main course of halibut that was pretty good. I thought the menu was pretty limited and there are no salads on menue although server indicated they would make me a green salad if I wanted one.

              2. re: linda22

                $16 for a primi plate of pesto is downright offensive.

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  Considering that they import pine nuts from Italy to get the right flavor, that does not seem offensive to me. A friend who is in the business once told me that Chez Panisse is barely making a profit given the quality of the ingredients that they serve.

          2. We just had dinner and I have to strongly agree with the majority, what a joke !! They would have done just fine maybe in the Castro but Delfina (& Pizzaria) and Range have nothing to worry about...We had the white fish carpaccio, cheese foccacia and a pasta with walnut cream sauce ...It was good, not great and the cost was $50 for those three courses only...For that much money I expected the food to be fantastic and it just wasn't...Nothing was seasonal that we could tell, the bread was good but the foccacia was greasy. With the Bay Area Italian choices of Oliveto, Incanto, Quince, A16 and Delfina- there is no comparison...PS I know they are not the same region, I am self-admittedly generalizing italian food into one lump sum, if Farina is accurate for Genova- then I know why I have never eaten at a Genova-ian italian place...

            As a side note, the staff are in jeans and Ralph Lauren Polo-ish shirts, they were nervous and didn't seem to be enjoying themselves probably due to the creepy Mr Howell type grumpy older man...sigh, too bad its at the end of our street- how I wish it was Range !!!

            4 Replies
            1. re: banditsf

              omg Mr. Howell! that's hilarious! It WAS Mr. Howell roaming around!

              1. re: linda22

                Sorry to be dense but who is Mr. Howell?

                Also sorry that the experiences have been so poor and the prices so high. I live in the neighborhood and have been eagerly awaiting another good restauarant a few blocks away. Delfina is always packed and not on opentable so I rarely get it together early enough to get us a reservation. Will appreciate any other opinions and will post one when we get there.

                1. re: sfdoc

                  They're referring to the character of Thurston Howell III from "Gilligan's Island."

                  1. re: sfdoc

                    I was going to go last night but I ran it past a friend who lives around the corner and who I actually trust for recommendations, ("___, have you been to Farina yet? Should I go to there or someplace else?").

                    Her exact reply was "Farina BLOWS. Do. Not. Go."

                    I can't think of the last time she has been so definitatively negative, usually she just steers me away from the bad stuff or let's me know the negative aspects of a place so I'm prepared.

              2. Farina is a rip off. The ingredients contrary to some posters are nothing special. The pine nuts are readily available in the U.S. through various import companies and while more expensive than Chinese or local pine nuts, they do not justify the prices. Delfina uses very expensive imports including Sicilian pistachios and they do not get away charging those kind of prices. The food tastes like an authentically mediocre tourist trap in Genova. Service is amateurish at best.

                For all the corporate Lavazza money that went into Farina, you think they could have done better--from food to service to decor which feels outright hostile and cold.

                1. Dinner report: finally made it to Farina for dinner. Has been out of town and had a class later, so went at 6:20 p.m. by myself without a reservation on a Monday evening. Not very crowded at that hour and seated promptly by the hostess at a place of my choosing, which was the bar overlooking the pasta station. So far so good, but when I was still sitting there 10 minutes later I started asking bus staff if I was in anyone’s section. I noticed that they seem to be holding a wine education for the staff, but eventually came to find out that they had just THAT DAY gotten their liquor license. After that the service was fine, though not stellar, and it may be that my server was not at all happy that I had attracted a lot of attention from the management types sitting there with no service for so long.

                  I thought the food was very, very good, and am mystified by the comments about the prices. Have lived in this general neighborhood for a long time, and eat all over the city a lot, so am familiar with the scene and the prices around here. I had the green salad, which was a dinner plate sized, very good salad with good balsamic pine nuts and good cheese ($9). My pasta dish was an ethereal herb ravioli dish with a wonderful walnut cream sauce. Very rich, but satisfying and filling and the end of all that I was too full for dessert. Total for that, $25. I had a class of very nice wine for $8, which although more expensive than I would like, is completely standard for anything like that around here. The entrées were in the low 20s, and honestly I am not sure where you could get quality food in San Francisco for less unless you want burritos.

                  Over all, I thought the interior was very interesting and pleasant, and the food very good, although the place is at this point lacking in warmth. The contrast with Delfina makes me realize all over again how well run a well executed Delfina is. BUT, having said that, I think this is a fine option for a restaurant with a sophisticated interior and very good food in a great neighborhood.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sfdoc

                    Entrees in the low 20s, you could go to Delfina or any of the best Italian restaurants in town. A16, Incanto, La Ciccia, Antica Trattoria, entrees top out at $23 or less.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Sounds like Acquerello needs to be on your itinerary sometime...

                      1. re: swag

                        No arguement there and definitely not trying to promote this place. Just thought some of the posts were overly harsh. I would not drive across town like I do for A16, but also don't think it is the bad news rip off that some have felt. Good luck getting into Delfina or A16 also!

                        1. re: sfdoc

                          Can someone else please review this place? I might want to try it tomorrow night. Yelps reviews are mixed, but I heard they have free valet parking right now which makes it very tempting to try it out.

                  2. Just dined at Farina and was worried given previous posts... perhaps they needed some time to get into their groove but I loved it and found the service to be very pleasant and attentive. I was a little put off by Mr. Howell but once I learned that he's the owner's father who speaks little English and wants to be helpful, I cut him a bit of slack. Although, I think he'd be better off sitting at the bar with a big glass of Barolo...

                    My pesto was out of this world! Not just the sauce but the pasta too. It was light and delicate. I also had some of the focaccia di Recco. It was delicious but a bit too oil laden for me. I will go back.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: piggypeg

                      Dined at Farina last evening and can see where some of the comments come from on the prices. Of our party of three, I arrived early and started with a Martini Genovese - a regular gin martini that was heavily muddled with basil which was quite refreshing.

                      After being seated and getting a bottle of sparkling rose, three of us shared two salads: a "terrine" of fresh seafood which included lobster, shrimp, octopus, and more as well as a prosciutto and cheese composition that was topped with fresh summer white truffles. The cheese was a house-made version of a Mozzarella that was stunning. The seafood terrine was no less than brilliant.

                      Three pasta dishes then arrived; the handerchief pasta with pesto, spaghetti and meatballs, and a seafood ravioli. Of the three, it was the meat ragu on the spaghetti that surprised all of us. The pesto was elegant and all that, but the meat sauce was the most flavorful.

                      Two entrees arrived; halibut (or was it escolar?) with grilled bell peppers and a large veal chop. Of the two, the fish was the better entree. While the veal was thick and ample, it was quite fatty.

                      We finished up with nutella and chocolate filled fried fritters served with three sauces; a lemon, raspberry, and vanilla (I think).

                      I liked that the much of the wine list was offered by glass, half-carafe, and full bottle. I didn't see the final tab, but imagine it to be on the pricey side. The waiters were wearing Genova t-shirts, no Ralph Lauren polo shirts. They were incredibly friendly and accommodating. The business was bustling and many were waiting for a table. Considering the ample offerings of Italian in this city, I doubt I would return, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        Menupages shows appetizers $14-15, pastas $15-16, entrees $18-23, and desserts $8.

                    2. My sister and I went to Farina for lunch today. The hostess seated us by the front window at first, but it was quite chilly (she said they had turned the heater off), so we were moved to the far end of the communal table. There was a group of 6 or 7 people at the table next to us who were having a great time. I could have done without some of their conversation, which was loudly and sexually explicit, but they left by the time we were halfway through. They turned out to be friends of our waiter and they all hugged and kissed as they left.

                      Sadly, our waiter was not nearly as happy to see us. He brought us the menus and after we looked at them and realized they were (fairly limited) brunch menus, I asked if I could just see the regular menu, out of curiosity. He came back after a long period of time and asked if we were ready to order. I said yes, but that I would like to see the regular menu. He said yes, he knew, and he would bring it after we ordered. I guess he was afraid we'd ask for something on the regular menu.

                      From the somewhat random assortment of dishes on the menu, we each ordered one of the foccacia/wine pairings (onion, and stracchino cheese, $10 and $12, respectively). I also ordered the lasagne with pesto (mostly because it was the only dish I saw on the menu that featured pesto), and my sister ordered a meatball and mashed potato dish. He seemed a bit unsure about the foccacia order, so I repeated "one onion and one stracchino". He left and came back a minute later and asked us again which ones we'd ordered. Oh, well, better safe than sorry.

                      Then we sat there for quite a long time before he brought us the wine and said the foccacia was on its way (he was good at keeping us informed that way). We weren't in a rush, so continued talking. A busboy brought a basket of bread and put three small pieces on the small wooden board that is set on each table. The pieces were half slices from a light wheat loaf--basically sandwich bread. They were OK, but didn't go with anything that was on the menu, so were a bit of a mystery.

                      After another five minutes or so, the waiter brought each of us a basket, each with two pieces of 4"x4" foccacia. They were hot and toasty. We split them. They were quite greasy and a bit bland, but pretty good. The wine pairings were not that exciting, though; my sister's rose was almost like Kool-Aid, with no discernible nose.

                      After awhile he brought our second courses. I loved the first bite of my thin lasagne ($14); the pesto was good and the top of the lasagne was browned and crispy. As I ate it, though, I realized that it too was bland. It cried out for a little pile of cherry tomatoes or something to contrast with the flavor. It also tasted undersalted (especially compared to Italian food in Italy). My sister's meatballs ($16) were similarly bland and undersalted. I flagged down the waiter, who had never come by to check on us (and never did ask if we wanted another glass of wine), and asked him if I could please have some salt. He brought it, then returned in about three minutes and asked if we were done with it, and took it back to the station. Did he think we were going to run off with it?

                      As we were eating, my sister stopped chewing, got a strange look on her face, and removed some tiny hard shards from her mouth. We examined them but couldn't tell if they were nut shells, pieces of a plastic utensil, or what. She finished the meatballs (carefully). When the waiter came by, I showed them to him and said "We just wanted to let you know that these were in the meatballs." He looked at them, didn't look at either of us, and said "I'll take them to the kitchen and ask", and carried them off. He returned a few minutes later and said "I asked the manager and the kitchen, and they said we don't have anything like that in the kitchen".

                      ????

                      I dunno. Did he think we were trying to do the old "waiter, there's a bug in my salad" trick to get out of paying? We had no intention of not paying, but thought it was worth mentioning, for obvious reasons. We paid up ($60+ (she paid) for two glasses of wine, two orders of focaccia, lasagne, and meatballs) and left without ordering anything else.

                      So ... I really like Ligurian food, thought their dinner menu looked very interesting, and would normally have gone back for dinner soon. However, I'll be giving this one a miss, and can't recommend it.

                      1. Had the single most Disgusting Dish of the Year (DDOY) at Farina a few Friday nights ago, and overall a disappointing meal.

                        Avoid, at all costs, the veal chop. It was 70% fat and 30% meat and sat atop a pile of inediblly bitter red cabbage (or was it radicchio?) drowning in a sour, vinegary sauce. My bf could not finish it, and he loves game. Washed $27 down the drain on that one.

                        Dessert was forgettable, a peach something tart that looked like shortbread spread with jam and crisscrossed with pie dough. The worst part, the most unforgiveable: my coffee was cold! If the owner of Lavazza is reading, know that your minions are ruining your reputation by pouring tepid dross into the cups of customers. The blasphemy!

                        Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I have to say that not everything was bad. The foccaccia with ham and cheese was pretty tasty, but it was sort of like a $14 croque monsieur. From Liguria. Whatever. My pasta, a black cod gnocchi, was pretty freakin' tasty and very unusual. But on gnocchi alone no restaurant can be sustained, I think.

                        Finally, I must say something about the management. Yes, I know I made a reservation for Friday night at a peak time, and did not expect to be seated upon arrival (we were not mean about this, and did not complain because I didn't want to stress anyone out). But I didn't like waiting another 20 minutes to get seated, and I didn't like being forgotten when I stepped outside to wait for the table. (We also waited a full 15 minutes before any bread showed up on our table before the meal.) At first I thought I was just being ungenerous, but then I heard two patrons bitching out the dude who runs the place. I felt bad for him -- but not so bad that I'd eat there again any time soon. My tip: Make a reservation but not for Friday or Saturday night. Eat the pasta, eat the bread, and get the hell out. Or save your money for Bar Tartine or Delfina.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                          personally, I don't care if it IS a Friday night, if I have a reservation I do expect to be seated on time. Plenty of good places meet this expectation: starting with, in my experience and in the same general area of town, Incanto and La Ciccia. Ditto for Aziza (another area of town, but crowded, popular and I've never been kept waiting).

                        2. Michael Bauer reviewed it in today's Chron:
                          http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                          (I was going to add a link but for some reason the software won't let me choose Farina--it keeps reverting to Farina Jay something.)