La Ciccia's cena di porco
La Ciccia has long been a favorite haunt of many of the SF Chowhounds, and for good reason. Sardinian food is hard enough to find, let alone beautifully prepared Sardinian food. Add to this a gracious and talented chef and a hostess with excellent knowledge of Sardinian wines and you've got a wonderful gem of a restaurant. One of the best things about this restaurant is that it continues to offer a truly personal experience.
Last night, several friends and I were lucky enough to book a table for La Ciccia's pig dinner/cena di porco. Here is the menu:
Ingaungiu de Terra(Salumi and pickled vegetables)
Malloreddus a sa Campidanesa(Sardinian Semolina Gnochetti served with pork meat sugo)
Procededdu Arrustiu (Roasted Suckling Pig served with Sardinian Style Row Vegetables)
Trutta de Arrescottu (Sardinian Ricotta cheese Cake)
Paired with a couple of very nice wines:
Vermentino di Sardegna
Cannonau di Sardegna
This prix fixe ($75/person) menu was truly an informal and amicable experience with huge portions served family style at each table. Servers with seconds/thirds and free flowing bottles of wine were attentive and friendly. Lorella and Massimo were also very much on hand to talk with diners and add that personal touch.
Starting off on the right foot/hoof, the salumi platter was simply awesome. With both traditional proscuitto, as well as one cured using the front leg (not coppa), Massimo also offered several salamis and cappocola. The pickled peppers, cucumbers and olives were excellent counterpoints as well.
The Gnochetti with pork sugo is always a favorite and rightly so. Perfectly cooked al dente with a slightly sweet note, this smaller and firmer pasta is markedly different from the big soft poofy potato puff gnochi commonly served. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to have an extra bowl of this great dish, even though my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.
The star of the evening of course was the roast suckling pig. Perfectly prepared, with a gorgeous crisp and perfect skin, no one at our table could resist its charms. Tender and very moist, the pork, in particular some pieces from the back, was well complimented by the Cannonau's dusty fruit and medium body. Cannonau is Sardinian Grenache and the very soft tannins lent itself to the delicate flavors of the pork.
Desserts have never been my favorite part of the meal, and I would normally opt for La Ciccia's excellent Sardinian cheese offerings, but since this was a set menu, I happily tried the ricotta cheese cake. It was a very different rustic type of cheese cake. The texture was coarse and only slightly sweet. However, the addition of Sardinian honey and almonds added another dimension, although my friend and I felt the honey was overpowering and perhaps better served on the side.
Finishing off the dinner with an excellent cup of espresso punctuated another fine meal at this wonderfully down to Earth restaurant that truly feels like dining in a friend's home each time you walk in the door. Lorella told us that they will be hosting their annual lamb dinner in November so keep you eyes and ears open to book a table.
291 30th / Church Street,
San Francisco, CA 94131