Favorites on current Incanto menu?
I had my first meal at Incanto on Friday and had a "where have you been all my life?" experience.
Obviously, I really enjoyed what I had on that visit (cardoons with lemon and anchovy, capunti with lamb sugo, rice pudding with rhubarb), but now I am wondering what to try next.
The menu currently on the website (see link below) is very close to the one I saw on Friday.
Ordinarily, I can narrow things down by eliminating things that I can get anywhere else and/or are easy for me to replicate at home. The menu at Incanto, however, offers so many things that I would not or could not easily make, that I had a very hard time deciding that night. Now the task is made only slightly easier by eliminating the items I've already tried.
If you were a solo diner, which of the dishes would you go for? Why?
Thanks for the input!
Edit: I forgot to mention the wine selections, all 3 of which were great, and 2 of which went very well with the dishes they were paired with. In order:
2006 Monchiero Carbone Roero Arneis Recit - Minerality stood up well to, but didn't clash with, the citrus and fish notes in the cardoon appetizer.
2005 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso - Rich, medium-full body with a lot of cherry and plummy fruit and just enough acidity to give it some structure. I really enjoyed this wine on its own. I noticed that the acidity came on too strong (to my taste, anyway) while eating the pasta, but I should note that I've noticed that my mouth has become sensitive to acidic foods over the past year or so.
2006 Cascina Ca’ Rossa Brachetto "Birbét" - Lovely rosey bouquet. Sweet, but not too sweet, gently effervescent, and enough crispness to balance out the richness of the rice pudding. Hands down the best pairing of the evening for me. The floral bouquet and crispness of the wine went hand in hand with the subtle sweetness of the pudding. I almost bought a bottle on the spot (assuming they would have let me).
Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131
I had the kampachi crudo and the malfatti last week and my husband had the whole roasted petrale sole. Both were excellent. The crudo had shaved asparagus and a savory granita on the top that made the dish. The malfatti was good but nothing I couldn't make at home, so I wouldn't get it again.
I was there Saturday night, and the capunti with lamb sugo was excellent.
The fava beans in the gnocchi with favas were super. I'm not a gnocchi fan. We also loved the rhubarb.
Bucatini with egg yolk and tuna heart is a regular item, and a must, as is the panacotta. I also highly recommend the trotter, bacon, and foie gras appetizer, although it's rich.
Antipasti came with a scrapping of something gelatinous (my friends said something about head to hoof) that was exceptional.
Generally stick to the roasted/braised meats (esp lamb neck if it's offered), offal, and pastas. I haven't been too impressed with their seafood offerings except the crudo.
When I go alone, I rarely get an entree and generally order an appetizer, half pasta, and dessert. Sometimes a side of a green vegetable just to feel virtuous. And a lot of half glasses of wine.
The menu on the website is rarely updated.
I have dined there solo more often than not (although I am long overdue, your post is reminding me) and I love dining at the bar. You get great service but there's a little bit more energy than there would be if you were alone at a table.
They are known for offal, but I think they do salads quite well -- even though we all can whip up a salad at home, I don't think I could match theirs.
I've also really enjoyed the crudo every time I've ordered it. Whenever you see beef hearts I would recommend getting them. And the lamb neck -- if you're in the mood to tackle a huge piece of meat. And everyone loves their antipasti plate, but I've never ordered it solo. That's too much for me.
You should also ask the advice of your server/bartender. I almost always do unless I have a specific hankering, and I've never been steered wrong.
It's such a wonderful thing to "discover" a new place -- congratulations!
The menu changes daily. The olives, antipasto platter (I think they'll make a half for a solo diner), handkerchief pasta with pork (or sometimes boar) ragù, and panna cotta (with seasonally varying accompaniments) are the only constants.
From the current March 31 sample menu, I'd order both cardoons, kidney, lamb pluck, bucatini, and (if I wasn't too full) duck leg or venison, but I wouldn't be surprised if none of those dishes were on the menu this week.
Some of my most memorable dishes there have been the nervetti (beef tendon) with sweetbreads, various preparations of beef heart, stewed and fried tripe, chicken liver, various seasonal vegetable appetizers such as shaved raw zucchini, the handkerchiefs, chicken liver ravioli, finanziera (stew of sweetbreads, duck's tongues, blood sausage, and cockscombs), various composed fish stews, lamb neck, and braised pork.
Despite that offal-centric list, many times I've had great meals there with no innards, and at least once with no red meat.
I saw the Birbet brachetto at K&L the other day. $15. I almost always order it when someone at the table orders dessert, though more often than not we're all too full.
re: Robert Lauriston
Thanks for the tips. I came very close to ordering one of the offal-based starters, but I knew for sure that I was going to order one of the braised meat pasta dishes. So, I decided to go with the the lighter- and brighter-looking cardoon appetizer instead.
I had the feeling that the menu changed frequently, so I was quite surprised by how closely the menu I saw on Friday matched up with the online menu. There was at most 1 mismatch each category (e.g., Friday's dessert list was identical save for a carrot cake with orange-carrot sorbetto being served instead of the Meyer lemon tortina). That being said, I'll certainly keep an eye out for items mentioned here that are not listed on the current online menu.
I went to the K&L website on Saturday and saw that they do indeed have that Brachetto on hand. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to pick up a bottle until my next trip up here in May.
ps. I almost forgot..my dessert was comped on Friday. The only reason I can think of is because I didn't put up a fuss when I was very politely asked to scoot down one seat at the bar to make room for a woman and her young daughter. Whatever the reason, it was a nice touch.
One of the things I like about Incanto is the breadth of their palate. The choice of featuring a Roero Arneis, for example, highlights one of the under-appreciated whites in a region that lives in the shadow of its red Le Langhe sisters (Barbaresco, Barolo, and various nebbiolo grape permutations).
Incanto has frequently been reliable for trying new things you don't always see on every other menu in town.