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Nov 19, 2008 05:20 AM

Chowdown Il Borgo, SF report

I finally tried Il Borgo. It's a small Italian restaurant in Hayes Valley. From Civic Center Bart it's a good 15 min walk here. I don't recommend walking on Fell St at night, pretty scary. Stick to Hayes St.

There were 5 people that went and these are the dishes we tried.

1. Antipasto misto $11.75 - mixed appetizer of artichoke hearts, olives, mozzarella & tomato. Just ok.

2. Carpaccio $9.75 - nice presentation. Meat was just ok and not that much of it. Some capers given.

3. Quattro Stagioni Pizza $12 - pretty good, though the toppings weren't spaced out, just plopped down such that 1 slice had all the olives, another all the mushrooms, another area all the prosciutto.

4. Fettuccine bolognese $11.50- just ok, noodles are al dente, meat sauce boring.

5. Lasagnetta $13.75 - my favorite dish. Like eating lasagna but rolled up.

6. Lobster ravioli $14.75 - about 6 pieces of ravioli, al dente. I thought it was ok.

7. Vitello al Marsala $20.75 - veal scaloppini w/ mushrooms in marsala wine sauce. I thought it was ok, veggies on the side mushy & salty, roasted potatoes were tasty.

8. tiramisu - just ok

9. Gelato - pretty good. Spumoni was good, raspberry sorbet fine, mango sorbet fine.

Joel brought his own Zinfindel wine bottle - corkage is $10.

Total w/ tax & tip was $160. Split 5 ways = $32 ea.

One unisex bathroom in the back.


Il Borgo
500 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. I wasn't there for this, but i just gotta say that i've been a big fan of that "lasagnetta" for a while now. 4 years ago there was a sassy older man who worked there. i had assumed he was the owner, but he was either a co-owner or just a waiter. he was part of why i liked the place so much. so it isn't as "warm" now that he isn't around. The fellow who does own it seems to work his butt off. i would see him come in at 8am and start baking bread and making the pasta, either by himself or with one helper, and then he leaves after 11pm. i suppose it's not a "destination" restaurant as the people say. but a good neighborhood place. i have a soft spot as it was an early "date" location, so maybe I just want to see them do well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kairo

      I have a huge soft spot for this place too, dating back from when I first went there for a Chowdown. I actually love both the bolognese and lasagnetta. The meat sauce might be boring to some. But to me it's comforting and familiar, the kind of straightforward food we all sometimes crave. I would go more often because there simply aren't many places to get no frills pasta for $11, and the family who owns the place is completely charming.

      1. re: Pei

        i used to live right by here, and i agree. i also have a soft spot for it, and i really like their bolognese and lasganetta, too. the bolognese might be dull to some, but i always found it rich and warming. i was just thinking about the fact that i haven't been back here in nearly three years when i found this thread, and i think that sort of sums it up. great neighborhood option, but not a destination draw. except now i think i have to go back.

    2. I think the four season pizza is supposed to be that way, at least everyone I have seen is built like that, with each section representing a season. How was the crust?

      1 Reply
      1. re: tomatoaday

        Yeah, it is supposed to be like that. It threw us off too, but it's not bad. Nothing at Il Borgo is the best, but the whole package is more than the sum of its parts. I don't know what it is, Il Borgo just puts me in a good mood. I do only go when I'm in the mood for basic meat sauce with soft homemade pasta and cheese, so I might be priming myself for a good time.

        1. I enjoyed this meal, although I drank too much wine to be completely reliable in my analysis. It was nice to have only five at the table, so we had interesting conversations.

          The vibe here is low-key, quiet, warm, friendly. The food was richer than what I'm accustomed to; the lasagna-like dish, and the lobster ravioli, were quite creamy. The veal was excellent, and the veg accompaniment was very nice -- very fresh, and the potatoes very crisp. The fettuccine Bolognese was bland, I think someone mentioned it could use a sprinkling of cheese. Wine-induced clumsiness caused me to spill a bit of Zin into the dish, which perhaps improved it.

          It's a neighborhood place, a bit out of my geographical range, so I might not get to go back. But if you're in the area, and in the mood for an uncomplicated Italian dinner it would be just the spot.

          Thanks again to the very clever Arlene for organizing and photographing.

          1. Il Borgo is an intimate ..warm space...on this night ...too warm! but the conversation and the food was better than I remembered it...the pizza, after a redistribution of goodies was quite good...really nice crust, with piquant tomato sauce and stringy mozzarella. My favorite was also the Lasagnetta, both testure, and sauce really shone...the veal marsala was a good version of a simple dish, with a nice balance of lemon and marsala...and the veal was nicely cooked! The rest were good, not great.....a nice neighborhood place!