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Aug 21, 2008 12:29 AM

Incanto, SF report

2nd visit to Incanto on Wed 8/20/08. I made reservations by emailing them. That was ok.

Wanted the secret menu item: Handkerchief pasta w/ rustic pork ragu & sizzled egg on top! I didn't get the dish because the waitress kept saying they don't make it..even though I insisted it was in the SJ I just said ok. Demand this dish people! Later after eating my meal I spoke to Chef Chris Cosentino and he said he could make it!!!

Still they have the FREE Hetch Hetchy still or Sparkling water. You can get Refills!

FREE bread/forcaccia/breadsticks w/ olive tapenade. Breadsticks tasted kinda stale, forcaccia not my favorite, bread average, olive tapenade salty.

Hubby got the braised pork shoulder w/ squash entree $23 - he really liked it.

Heirloom tomatoes w/ peaches & basil $9-good, though not enough tomatoes & peaches for me. Very sweet & nice though.

My Handkerchief pasta dish $16 was still ok. Would have been better w/ the damn sizzled egg on top! Aiiggghh. Hubby got a Small Handkerchief Pasta - same as mine just as appetizer size for $10..not on the menu, but they can do that.

Broccoli di Ciccio $6 - side dish was horrible, way overcooked.

Subtotal $71.50
5% service charge $3.58
tax $6.38
$81.46 Before tip.

I skipped the over-priced desserts & went to Mitchell's down the road instead.

Got my FREE Heirloom Tomatoes book by using a Visa Signature Card until Aug 24, 2008. Best was talking to Chef Chris Cosentino!

Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

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  1. Incanto's desserts are $7-8, pretty average. For comparison, La Ciccia's are $7-9, Bacco's are $8.

    1. FREE Hetch Hetchy water ... please don't tell me that is tap water. If that's the case ... even though I prefer terroir on menus ... that would just be funny.

      Hmmm ... I read that peach/tomato combo somewhere else and it intruiged me. Maybe a chow recipe. Will try that at home soon.

      8 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        They have a fancy filtering thing at Incanto, so yes, it's tap water, but filtered by them. The sparkling water also starts with tap water, and it's free too, which is nice.

        1. re: JasmineG

          This, of course, reminds me a the huge Zuni nectarine debate going on. Would Hetch Hetchy water by any other name.....etc

          1. re: WCchopper

            Well, but it's free, so I don't think that the same issue applies. And they don't offer bottled water at all.

            1. re: JasmineG

              It's the perfect counterpoint to the Zuni nectarine. The sparkling water is wonderful. It's also local, free, and elegantly served without anyone trying to upsell you. They've been offering it since they opened.

              1. re: Windy

                At the least, when I'm in SF at any restaurant trying to push bottled water ... you know the type ... where they don't mention the option of tap ... I can answered that I would prefer the still Hetch Hetchy.

                I always feel like it is a game trying to make the customer say 'tap' and feel cheap for not ordering the $8 bottled water.

                Incanto Restaurant & Wine Bar
                1550 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

                1. re: rworange

                  I like that Incanto is about reminding people where SF's municipal water comes from, AND giving you their filtration (and carbonization) services for free. Just had a great meal down here in santa barbara at the hungry cat where they were offering unlimited "house filtered tap water" for 3 dollars for the table. And that 3 bucks was for water that starts off tasting like it came from a kiddy pool, not the sierras.

                  To me this just misses the whole concept of not offering bottled water. If the point is to discourage waste of resources (plastic, gasoline) that go into bottling and distributing water, then doing it as Constentino and Co do makes a lot of sense - why pay 7 or 8 bucks for something from france when you get local, filtered stuff for free. charging for local water seems to encourage the opposite behavior - like rw says you seem cheap for being ok with shelling out 3 dollars for tap but drawing the line at 8 for the fancy imported stuff.

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    I lived in the San Diego area. I'd pay any amount of money for a filtered water at a restaurant that removed the skunky taste.

        2. re: rworange

          It's funny that they use the water supplies name as if it's some exclusive reservoir the way one talks about wine regions, but other then that they're offering free filtered tap, or carbonated, which is a nice touch. Even if the filtering is probably factored into their service charge.

          The bigger question is why such a praised establishment routinely botches basic dishes? It's been a while since there was a report here that didn't mention at least one or more dishes cooked improperly followed by the usual rationalizations.

          1. It's too bad the breadsticks were stale....they were by far my favorite item in the bread basket on both of my visits.

            I also agree with Windy re: the sparkling water - it's too bad more restaurants don't offer this, I think it's a really nice touch.

            IIRC, the menu does include half-order prices for many of the pasta dishes. Is the handkerchief pasta usually not one of them?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dave MP

              No, on the menu it is not offered in the half size. But if you ask nicely, they sometimes will break down certain dishes into smaller portions. They made me a salumi platter for one when I said I'd be interested but couldn't eat the full portion.

            2. hmm....a 'secret' menu item so secret the server doesn't know about it...I really dislike the idea of secret menus:


              but I've wanted to try that pasta with the egg...I'd be disappointed too. The tomatoes and peaches look great; I've had a similar dish at Incanto and loved it.

              8 Replies
              1. re: susancinsf

                There's no secret menu. Some customers saw Cosentino break an egg on a dish of pasta he made for himself and started asking for it.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  Not so secret since it is on the website, but something I didn't know. For parties of 12-17 persons renting out Incanto's Dante Room, they offer a "whole beast" option, whole-roasted pig, lamb, or goat.

                  I knew they had these dinners periodically in the restaurant, didn't know that a large groups could schedule one.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I did a whole goat dinner for my birthday one year, it was fun. They roast whole lambs and goats for Easter but you don't get the whole beast on your table.

                    Once a year they do an all-offal Head to Tail dinner. With a week's notice you can get a similar "Quinto Quarto" menu for two or more people.


                  2. re: susancinsf

                    The famous pasta with the egg is the cured Sardinian tuna heart bucatini. It's on the menu.

                    1. re: Windy

                      The "secret" dish referred to in the Oakland Tribune article is the handkerchief pasta with pork rag├╣ topped with a "sizzled" egg.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, I realize that's what hhc meant. However Susan and I recently discussed the bucatini.

                        1. re: Windy

                          yes, need to do a little comparison between Incanto and La Ciccia on the tuna heart, even though I know the dishes are different.... I would like to try Incanto's pork ragu hankerchief pasta with egg on top also, though. I think I've tasted it without the egg when someone in my party ordered it, but egg would definitely be a boost. Actually, anything with egg on top appeals to me :-)

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            I have had both the Incanto and La Ciccia tuna heart pastas, and both were so good and made me so happy that I couldn't even think about which one I liked better. I could eat either almost every day and be happy.