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Oct 19, 2007 09:50 PM


Had my first meal today at the new SPQR on Filmore between Bush and Pine. Wonderful.

Split an appetizer of chanterelle mushrooms. Excellent fall dish.

My wife had the lasagne (comfort all the way) while I had the fresh calamari with chard and chickpeas. The half carafe of Italian white recommended by the server was crisp and elegant.

Small, unpretencious place featuring knowledgeable servers and fresh, delicious food.

Will return many times.

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  1. What a weird name. Any idea what it stands for? Or am I supposed to know?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Kim Cooper

      "the Senate and the People of Rome" (in Latin). This was the slogan of ancient Rome, found on various artifacts, and frequently pictured on depictions of Christ on the cross.

      Not the most appetizing image, no?

      1. re: waldrons

        No, not appetizing at all.... See what I missed not being raised Christian?
        Does this mean it's Italian food? Or California Italian?
        Price range? Is there any parking nearby?

        1. re: Kim Cooper

          SPQR is serving Roman cuisine, as best as it can be done in California. The menu features 12-15 appetizers, 4 or so pastas and a like number of entrees.
          Parking is on the street and is not exactly plentiful.

          If I remember correctly, the appetizers are $7 each, $13 for two and $18 for 3.
          The pastas are $10-$15 and the entrees are in the $12-$18 range.

        2. re: waldrons

          INRI, not SPQR, are the letters frequently appearing in depictions of Christ on a cross. INRI was an acronym for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews [in Latin [Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm]].

          1. re: grishnackh

            grishnackh, thanks for that needed correction--it needed to come from a believer not a pantheist like me. The Roman Republic to which SPQR refers goes back earlier than what most Western nations now call year 0 of the 'common era', formerly called 'A.D.' for anno domini (based on the attributed birth of "J.C.")and I get tickled when I hear that time called "ancient."By year 0 C.E. the Republic existed more in name than in substance. cheers

              1. re: chaddict

                Additional trivia - the manhole covers in Rome, amongst other things, are imprinted with "SPQR."

                  1. re: adampaul

                    The manhole cover is their sign...

              2. re: grishnackh

                Oops, that's what I get for being raised Unitarian!! Thanks for the correction, grishnackh!

          2. Is the lasagne new on the menu? When I went a couple of weeks ago I didn't remember seeing that on the menu.

            3 Replies
            1. re: gemster

              My guess is the menu at SPQR will change frequently, depending on the seasons and what is available in the markets.

              1. re: DavidT

                Lasagna was on the menu last night. The menu was dated so I assume there are some changes on a regular basis.

              2. re: gemster

                My initial report was in the following thread:

                And, yes, when I was there, I had to wait a few minutes for the menu to finish printing as it will be changing often - if not daily.

                My first visit had no lasagne on the menu and my second did. The first time had no pig's trotter croquet and the second did (amazing!


                Also, I saw that it was open for lunch today -- maybe permanently???? <hope, hope, hope>

              3. We went last night for dinner and I must say that I love, love, love this place! It’s on the small side and it was packed but the noise level was never a problem. No reservations but we walked in at about 7:00 and had a less than 15 minute wait at the bar (bar seats didn’t have backs so friend insisted on a table). The bartender was fantastic and really knew her list well.

                We had:
                House-made pork sausage (a patty rather than a tube) with faro, mint, and cucumber. This is why God invented the pig! Perfectly seasoned and the cool light faro-mint-cucumber helped cut the fattiness of the pork.

                Roast Chanterelles and sunchokes with pancetta-absolutely delicious but would have benefited from a higher sunchoke/ lower pancetta ratio.

                2 orders of suppli al telefono (because I don’t share suppli!) – perfectly fried, light outer coating, perfectly cooked riso, melty, gooey cheese. My friend (he has quite a lot of family in Rome) had one complaint: really good suppli should have tons of strings of cheese when pulled apart; these two, not so much. Still tasted good though.

                Antipasti are $7 each, $18 for 3, $28 for 5.

                I had the carbonara with spaghetti (notice a pork theme going here?) and friend had the Cacio e pepe with rigatoni, $12 and $11. Never did get a bite of friend’s rigatoni (I was told it was very good) because I was too busy scarfing down only THE BEST CARBONARA I HAVE EVER HAD! Pasta was perfectly salted, perfect ratio of guanciale, black pepper, and pecorino. Love at first bite…

                Shelley’s wine list is awesome. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of the wines with dinner because I had never heard of any of the ones we tried. She has crafted a truly unusual list, making it just that much more fun to explore. I do remember the 2 dessert wines (yeah, um, having the dessert menu in front of me right now helps…): “Cornarea ‘Tarasco’ Roero Arneis Passito, Piemonte, 2001” and “Roberto Zeni, Moscato Rosa, Trentino, 2005” at the sommelier’s suggestion. They were both lovely but I especially liked the lighter Moscato Rosa. We didn’t do dessert because of all the “pigging” out earlier but the menu looked wonderful.

                Service was pitch perfect all evening and I must say, there were a ton of industry people checking the place out…

                1. Has anyone been for brunch yet? I'm taking my mom out on Saturday and am torn between Bar Bambino (I've been for dinner but not brunch) and SPQR (never been - should my first experience be dinner?)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tvham

                    A co-worker went for brunch yesterday and she has not stopped talking about a dish with stewed shelling beans and two eggs that were softboiled, covered in breadcrumbs and then deep fried so that the white was firm but the yolk runny. She claims that her husband had a polenta and ricotta pancake which she took a bite off and was the best pancake she ever had. She went on and on about how incredible brunch was to whomever would listen to her. I sit in a cube in middle of the office so I got to hear the whole story about 5 times. That said, I am heading there this weekend given how delicious she made it sound.

                  2. Went for dinner last night and it was good but not as good as all the buzz. The appetizers were good (braised chard, calamari, chicory with anchovy) but the pastas weren't as good as I'd expect. The linguine and clams suffered from gummy, oversalted pasta. The salmon was pretty good. My real complaint was the rushed service. I understand the place is popular, but at every step of the way we felt like they wanted to get us out of there to turn the table over. So overall, a mixed review. I'd like to go back and eat at the bar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: oaklandguy

                      I feel as though I am beating a dead horse and your review confirms it: Stick with the left-hand side of the menu. If you want pasta or a great hunk of Italian-esque meat, walk up the street another block to Vivande.