SF (or Bay Area) Authentic Sicilian Restaurant?
I'm looking for a recommendation for an authentic restaurant, preferably of high quality, that is dedicated to Sicilian food in the city. I know the whole A16 routine as a source for some Sicilian dishes but would like a deeper survey than our friends on Chestnut offer. Outside of SF is a second option but one that I'd be happy to entertain. Thanks.
Caffe Sport in North Beach is Sicilian, but I haven't heard much about the food since the original Chef/Owner Antonio La Tuna passed away.
Alioto's at (gasp) Fisherman's Wharf, is Sicilian.
The humble U.S. Restaurant in North Beach is Sicilian. (The U.S.stands for "U; Siciliano".)
Those are three I know about; but this is San Francisco, after all, where Northern Italian reigns.
You might get on Incanto's mailing list for the special mattanza dinner.
The food at Caffe Sport is nothing like what I had in Sicily.
The owners of the Original US Restaurant may be of Sicilian extraction, but the food is strictly Nord Biccese.
Reportedly Sicilian restaurants I haven't tried:
1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA
1040 Main Street, Napa, CA
La Finestra Ristorante
100 Lafayette Cir Ste 101, Lafayette, CA 94549
re: Robert Lauriston
The original owners of U.S. Restaurant were apparently actually Slavs (per the Chron's Original Joe's article link you posted recently) but only lately the U.S. started displaying "U; Siciliano" prominently on the window, so I assume it's the current regime that claims to be Sicilian. To tell the truth, I haven't eaten there since before the makeover of the original location (currently the Panta Rei site).
re: Robert Lauriston
Funny that the U.S.'s Sicilian roots should come up just now. Lidia Bastianich of "Lidia's Italy" recently did Spaghetti Pesto Trapansese, a dish I first experienced in Trapani, the Sicilian city it was named after. It involves chopping up almonds, garlic, tomatoes and hot pepper flakes with olive oil and I love it.
Anyway, this spurred a memory that I had spaghetti Trapanese a the U.S. restaurant a few years ago, and it appears they still serve it (with sausage). It's not something I've run into in very many restaurants and speaks of Sicilian roots.
Apparenty the original owner of the US was a Slav (and who knows what the"US" stood for then), but the Cippolinas, who owned it for 50 years prior to the regime change in 2004 were Sicilian (or at least the husband was) but put out that the "US" stood for "Unione Sportiva" and had a mostly mainland Italian menu (with some exceptions,as you noted). The current trio of owners (one of whom is Sicilian) have kicked up the Sicilian ID (with a map of Sicily on the window and turning the "US" into "U; Sicilianu"). Not sure what they've done with the menu to make it more Sicilian.
re: Robert Lauriston
To offer an update on Original U. S. Restaurant, I was there with my mom in September when she asked for spaghetti and meatballs. It was crowded at 6pm on a weekday and we scored the last table.
To start, the U.S. Salad that's garnished with marinated white beans, olives and red onions. The tomatoes were terrible considering the time of year.
I had the pasta Trapanese, my first time with this Sicilian dish. It doesn't show in the pastas listed in the online menu but does appear on the catering menu. Again, underripe and cottony tomatoes were a problem, and the scant toasted almonds were mostly slivers and sliced, whereas ground nuts would seem more appropriate. The flavor mostly came from olive oil and cheese. To its credit, the spaghetti was al dente.
We did like the spaghetti and polpette. Mom did complain that the pasta was too hard for her (just right in my book).
Did the sauce have the cinnamon spice that Zach laments here as missing? Dunno, I wasn't looking for it, maybe. I'll just mark this plate of spaghetti and meatballs as enjoyable and enough for two meals.
Ristorante mezzo mezzo in Marin. There are some mundane dishes but others such as the pasta with cauliflower, pine nuts, raisins, and saffron are great. I really like the sea bass with blood oranges and the rabbit too. Skip the apps.