Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 21, 2008 01:28 PM

Poesia review

Well, we gave Poesia a try last night, and it was a mixed bag. They have lots of friendly Italian staff covering the tables, so we didn't have any of the typical new restaurant service problems.

Food-wise, it strikes me (a west coaster, so take with a grain of salt) as a red sauce joint re-imagined for the Castro with some trendy appetizers thrown on top. Our arancini to start (3 for $6) were tasty, but my favorite part was the fried wisps of leeks that came under the arancini. The leek bits were less than 1/8" wide and up to 2" long, crispy, salty, slightly caramelized from frying but not bitter: really good. Our other appetizer was burrata, supposedly flown in fresh the day before from Italy. The burrata was tasty, but not mind-blowing. It was a smaller ball than I'm used to buying, which made for a good appetizer serving, but it didn't have much of an oozing center. It was on top of a bed of spinach greens dressed heavily with truffle oil--to the point where the truffle oil masked the flavor of the cheese and it was hard to get much out of the dish.

Our mains were two different red sauce dried pastas finished in the oven. Fine for $12, but not worth a detour. The short ribs pasta was tastier than the meatball pasta--sorry, I'm blanking on names.

The bartender isn't really dialed in yet to San Francisco sensibilities. My BH, in a fit of impulse, ordered a blueberry orange concoction that turned out to be thick with blueberry puree and had the most heavily sugared rim I've seen in my life. Our glasses of falanghina were nice, though the cheap stemware filled close to the top prevented us from really evaluating the wine critically. A glass of bourbon at the end of the meal came with a big huge twist of orange, which is absolute heresy for my partner, but we plucked it out immediately and sucked it down anyway.

The space is comfortable and warmly decorated, water glasses are beautiful straight sided, thin walled Riedels.

The chef came out periodically to talk to diners, but I don't know how much he was looking for feedback--when I told him I had trouble tasting the burrata through the truffle oil, he didn't look very pleased with the comment. I'm sure various items on the menu will be better balanced after they hit their stride.

Overall, it was a fine meal and pretty reasonably priced. I was hoping for better quality, but this will still be a viable option for us if we need a bite before a show at the Castro Theater or have other reasons to be in the neighborhood.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the first report.

    I read they had a chocolate mousse with olive oil and sea salt on top. Usually I'm not a fan of olive oil on desserts, but for some reason this just sounds good to me.

    4072 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I almost hesitate to write this, but I think the chocolate mousse was a definite miss.

      Flavor: the chocolate flavor was not very strong--it tasted like swiss miss hot cocoa
      Seasoning: the sea salt on top was way too much--it looked and tasted like 1/2 of a teaspoon of salt on two or three small balls of "mousse"
      Texture: off. This was an ice cream, not a mousse, and it was rough and hard, probably because the serving temperature was too cold for the olive oil component.

      The salt issue could have been a case of them trying to respond to a diner's taste--I had asked for salt for my pasta dish earlier in the meal, because I thought it was under seasoned. Perhaps they thought I was a salt fiend, but I think it's more likely that the very large flake sea salt they were using is hard to measure carefully and they just tossed a very large pinch of the stuff on my dessert.

      1. re: SteveG

        Thanks for helping me get over what sounded like a good idea.

    2. Just went to Poesia last night and have to say they have improved drastically over this review in March. We had a fresh housemade pasta that was excellent as well as a delicious beet salad. My husband had a dried pasta dish that was like a ragu that we all thought was very flavorful. For dessert we had the poached pear which I liked (normally I don't like those) and the mousse which I really enjoyed. On the other hand it did seem a bit expensive. But not so expensive that I wouldn't return.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Missmoo

        I've been enjoying my recent visits, five in all in the past two months; and I concur with Missmoo about the wonderful beet salad and can add that that housemade ravioli with chestnut puree makes me a very happy diner indeed.

        I missed what appears to be an uneven start for this place, but in the past two months I've had some wonderful food and inventive drinks -- grappa infused with Bay and Basil, or with fennel -- and I'm grateful to have this as a neighborhood place.

      2. Went last night with two friends. Another friend who has worked in the Castro for years and knows Italian food said something like, "finally there's a really good restaurant in the neighborhood," so I'd been very curious to try it. It was around 9 on a Friday night, so the place was full, but we sat at the (empty) bar, drank Prosecco, and had a table within 15 minutes. We lucked out and got the three-top in the front window, definitely the nicest table in the place.

        The arancini were really good: crunchy exterior, gamy lamb ragù filling, and a nice tomato sauce on the side. I expected more fish in the baccalà dish but it was more like scalloped potatoes flavored with salt cod--tasty though we wouldn't have ordered it if the description had been clearer.

        Pastas were all good. I had strozzapretti with nduja and sardines, really flavorful and spicy. Big fat tortelloni were also great.

        I'm forgetting one appetizer and one pasta but everything was good. We drank a nice bottle of Prosecco and a new-to-me Lamezia Riserva. We were too full to order dessert. Came to $75 a head with tax and tip.

        I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to eat there, but I'd definitely go back if I were in the Castro.