Report on Specchio in the Mission
This Italian place on Mission between 19th and 20th has been open for a few weeks. It is still working through isome ssues but has the potential to be a solid addition to the neighborhood.
We started with a salad that was simple and well made and also had a bruschetta of eggplant and tahini. While the bruschetta did not strike me as as particularly italian, it was nicely done.
We then had some pastas. The wild boar papperadelle was aromatic and rich. Though not exactly the ragu sauce described, it was flavorful and satisfy. The salmon and spicy tomato sauce pasta was not as good. The smoked salmon was bit overwhelming and the spicy tomatoes were AWOL. Somehow this dish did not come together. The pizza looked good but we did not try it.
Surprisingly, the wine list was the weakest point. Some things on it just didn't make any sense. What is an "Italian Bordeaux" from "Veneto" -- that just doesn't make any sense. In addition, the wine by the glass list included a lot of Vin d' Pays from Heron that were marked up to over 3X retail. We avoided these obvious train wrecks and had some other wines by the glass for $8 or $9 which were good to very good.
The interior has a lot of poured conrecte and not too much else. A bit stark for my tastes but some people get into this.
Service was friendly but a bit tentative and slow (despite the restaurant being nearly empty).
This place does not rank up there with Delfina; however, its prices are much lower (pasta are $13 to $15), so it may turn out to be a good neighborhood place (if not a true destination).
I'm guessing here, but many regions in recent years have put together "Bordeaux mixtures" to entice buyers, especially if the region's own wines were not well known and/or competitive.
Although I understand the thought process that produces the expression "marked up over retail," I always like to remind folks that retail already implies a likely 50% mark-up over wholesale, so the impact of gouging, when it does occur, is somewhat mitigated with that description!
Seriously, Specchio is much, much better than Gondola. While I always enjoyed Gondola, Gino is actually behind the stoves at Specchio. I wish I had more time to write about my dinner there last week, I swear I will this weekend. In short, the pumpkin ravioli were fantastic (very rich, fair warning) and the pappardelle was perfectly sauced, not too much they way a lot of Italian restaurants do. Loved the orange, fennel, and black olive salad...