HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What's your latest food quest?
TELL US

Arancini: savoury balls of goodness in the City?

grayelf Jul 28, 2009 01:06 PM

I was reading a report on the arancini at Adesso in Oakland and wondered if anyone had a preferred spot for these Sicilian treats in SF proper. Much obliged.

  1. wolfe Jul 28, 2009 01:31 PM

    Mixed reports for U.S. Restaurant over last few years. Shack on or some gout.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe
      a_and_w Nov 12, 2009 08:50 AM

      LOL!

    2. Robert Lauriston Jul 28, 2009 02:08 PM

      Bar Bambino, Cinecitta, District. SPQR, when they have them.

      1. m
        margieco Jul 28, 2009 02:15 PM

        I had a fabulous (don't know if it was traditional or not) one at 54 mint a couple of weeks ago. Squid ink. it was a big square instead of a small circle but quite tasty.

        1. farmersdaughter Jul 28, 2009 02:20 PM

          There used to be a deli in North Beach called Palermo Deli that had great ones - traditional Sicilian just like at the Palermo train station. The deli is now called La Spiaggia, I think. I don't know if it's the same ownership or if they have the arancini any more, but if you want one to take away and eat in Washington Square Park, it might be worth a visit (that's what I used to do).

          1. m
            meggie t Jul 28, 2009 02:36 PM

            Pizzeria Delfina on California/Fillmore has them sometimes. I believe Melanie Wong wrote about it not too long ago. They are really delicious.

            6 Replies
            1. re: meggie t
              Mari Jul 28, 2009 03:34 PM

              I had them at Pizzeria Delfina on 18th Street and they were delicious. I just looked at the menu and I don't see them so they might go on and off the menu. I have also had them at Ducca - the restaurant at the Westin on 3rd Street - but Delfina's version was better.

              1. re: Mari
                m
                mrs bacon Jul 28, 2009 06:44 PM

                They rotate as part of the daily fritti special. I agree; they're fabulous.

              2. re: meggie t
                pamf Jul 28, 2009 07:01 PM

                I have had them at Pizzeria Delfina also. They are tasty, but tiny, one or two bites each and an appetizer portion is 5 or 6.

                Earlier this year at an Italian restaurant in suburban Boston I had baseball size arancini appetizer that was just excellent. I would love to find something like that here. Very crisp exterior with a thick layer of rice surrounding a meat and cheese filling, served on a puddle of marinara.

                1. re: pamf
                  grayelf Jul 28, 2009 10:53 PM

                  Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I am going to have an image in my mind of arancini rotating for quite some time thanks to mrs bacon :-).

                  I must admit I would love to find ones similar to those described by pamf as that is how they were served in Sicily (minus the marinara) when we scarfed many on the move (we always got them as street food). Sometimes they were conically shaped which I think had to do with differing fillings. I have not seen them in that size and configuration here and thought perhaps yes in SF...

                  1. re: grayelf
                    farmersdaughter Jul 29, 2009 10:07 AM

                    That's how the Palermo Deli ones were. You might check with the new deli that's taken its place to see.

                  2. re: pamf
                    pamf Nov 2, 2009 07:02 PM

                    Sorry if it is bad form to reply to my own post, but I had a new version of Arancini at Delfina (California and Fillmore location)

                    It's now on the menu as a special as "Arancini with Oxtail"

                    They are somewhat larger than before. They come 4 to the order for $7

                    They were just delicious. The risotto was creamy and cheesy , each bite had some shredded oxtail meat embedded in it.

                    I might still like a bit of marinara sauce for dipping, but these were great as they were.

                    -----
                    Delfina Restaurant
                    3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                2. c
                  chezchristine Jul 28, 2009 06:38 PM

                  Americano has them. 2 balls a little larger than golf balls for $7.

                  1. o
                    OneMoreCindy Jul 29, 2009 11:16 AM

                    Canyon Market in Glen Park sells them in their cold case if you feel like picking up food to heat and serve at home.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: OneMoreCindy
                      s
                      SteveG Jul 29, 2009 12:41 PM

                      How are they? What fillings? What size?

                      1. re: SteveG
                        casalbore spirit Jul 29, 2009 02:37 PM

                        My memory of my first delicious bite of a perfect traditional Sicilian arancini,hot crispy fried breaded rice ball,stuffed with piselli(peas},oozing mozzarella,and meat tomato sauce,washed down with orangina(orange drink) while floating face up to the Mediterranean sun,on a local friends boat with my sister on the sea off of Mondello(beach area outside of Palermo}.I thought I could die happy at that moment.Since losing my taste for red meat I am more drawn to the Mondo Arancini in Rome versions with various fillings.My fav:arancina ala Norma w/eggplant,mozzarella and tomato sauce.Suppli are the conical or round shaped Roman treats with various fillings. http://www.annamariavolpi.com/suppli.html
                        In Oakland I have only had one disappointing version at Bela Nico although in their defense and version they called it crochetti di riso(rice croquette).I would love to find a great arancini or suppli anywhere in the bay area.As in so many things like pizza and pasta,the sun,soil and water is why we can't recreate these things in the same way here.This is not a picture of me,but the same magical feeling I had in the same spot although we were on a boat for three.Surely she most have just eaten an arancini!
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/macorig/...

                        1. re: SteveG
                          jupiter Nov 5, 2009 02:50 PM

                          The canyon market ones are decent. they are pretty plain, saffron flavored and come with some good marinar on the side. I usually pick them up cold on hot days and let them come to room temp for eating on picnics. I can't vouch for how they taste if you were to put them in the microwave, but for a cold rice treat, they are pretty good.

                      2. tvham Jul 29, 2009 03:05 PM

                        I've had a good version at Ducca before.

                        -----
                        Ducca
                        50 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                        1. o
                          originalfig Jul 29, 2009 03:55 PM

                          Farallon has sometimes had them on the appetizer menu - the type has varied, but I remember in particular a butternut squash version with a nugget of melted mozzarella in the center. I just checked their menu online and it looks like they are not currently making them. :( But maybe if you put in a special request before you go, who knows?

                          -----
                          Farallon
                          450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          1. k
                            katya Jul 30, 2009 02:26 PM

                            Let me know if anyone has any arancini recs in Silicon Valley. I love Villa Deli's ravioli but their arancini were not so good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: katya
                              casalbore spirit Aug 1, 2009 06:37 AM

                              Thank you.I was in Villa Deli yesterday to try their ricotta ravioli that has gotten good reviews.I saw their house made baseball size meat and also eggplant filled arancini but did not try them.Based on your review I'm glad i didn't and the ravioli was only so so.

                              1. re: casalbore spirit
                                k
                                katya Aug 3, 2009 12:29 PM

                                I have to say I love La Villa's beef ravioli (first time I've really liked meat ravioli over cheese), but wasn't that impressed by the bite I had of my friend's ricotta ravioli.

                            2. Robert Lauriston Aug 1, 2009 05:01 PM

                              Poesia's are good. Not baseball-sized but larger than many and served with tomato sauce.

                              -----
                              Poesia
                              4072 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                              1. lucymom Aug 3, 2009 02:48 PM

                                i would say the best version i had so far has been at 54 mint. it's a baseball size version served on top of this amazing tomato sauce.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: lucymom
                                  grayelf Aug 6, 2009 09:08 AM

                                  Once again, thanks for all your reply. Here's my arancini cheat sheet for easy reference:

                                  Arancini: Bar Bambino, Cinecitta, District. SPQR when they have them, 54 Mint, La Spiaggia (check first), Pizzeria Delfina, Ducca, Americano, Farallon, Poesia

                                  1. re: lucymom
                                    Robert Lauriston May 8, 2010 06:00 PM

                                    54 Mint's are really good.

                                    -----
                                    54 Mint
                                    54 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      grayelf May 9, 2010 02:11 AM

                                      That's funny, I have a card for 54 Mint in front of me right now! We had a look in last trip and added it to the "to try" list but I didn't notice the arancini. Thanks.

                                      -----
                                      54 Mint
                                      54 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                      1. re: grayelf
                                        Cynsa May 13, 2010 09:41 AM

                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodnut/...

                                        1. re: Cynsa
                                          grayelf May 13, 2010 12:36 PM

                                          Drool -- and so much tastier looking than the sad little spheres I had on Monday at Red Card in Vancouver, sitting in a puddle of canned-tasting marinara sauce (4 for $8, ack). Thanks for the food porn shot, Cynsa!

                                        2. re: grayelf
                                          Cynsa May 13, 2010 11:54 PM

                                          Arancina al Nero di Seppia - Fried squid ink rice ball stuffed with spicy shrimp at 54 Mint on June 2, 2009

                                          -----
                                          54 Mint
                                          54 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                           
                                    2. pamf Sep 20, 2009 10:06 PM

                                      New at Trader Joe's (new to me at least, first time I've seen them), Arancini Bites.

                                      12 in a freezer package for $3.69.

                                      They are filled with Fontina cheese, and to me, the cheese to rice ratio is off, too much cheese for the bite size balls. I baked mine (as per package instructions) and they were less crispy than I would have liked. Overall a bit bland. There was no marinara dipping sauce included.

                                      They are not as good as restaurant made arancini, but I will probably buy these again at TJ's for a quick snack.

                                      1. s
                                        SteveG Nov 5, 2009 10:43 AM

                                        Just tried the arancini at Ducca. They weren't very good, in fact they were very similar to pamf's description of the ones from Trader Joe's. The rest of the food was similarly uninspired, and is definitely not on our repeat list. For example, a fresh paparadelle pasta dish had a huge knot of stuck together gummy noodle that was 2"x2"x1/2". No sauce penetrated the unappetizing mass, and it just shouldn't have made it out of the pasta water or past the sauce station to the table. We would have sent it back if we actually wanted to eat a full dish of the boring sauce and gummy noodles, but that wasn't the case.

                                        So far, the ones I had at Poesia are the best I've had locally, but that's my only other datum outside of Sicily.

                                        -----
                                        Ducca
                                        50 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                        Poesia
                                        4072 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: SteveG
                                          grayelf Nov 12, 2009 12:27 AM

                                          La Spiaggia does have them, they are baseball sized and go for $3.50. They appear to have cornmeal on the outside, the rice is tender and tasty and the filling is like a really good spag bol sauce plus peas. Take one over to Washington Square and munch on it while watching the pigeons divebomb other people eating more bird-identified food :-).

                                          1. re: grayelf
                                            Cynsa Nov 12, 2009 06:29 AM

                                            yum - rice is nice...
                                            La Spiaggia
                                            1556 Stockton at Union St.
                                            San Francisco, CA 94133
                                            (415) 362-3354

                                            1. re: Cynsa
                                              farmersdaughter May 14, 2010 12:06 PM

                                              Just an FYI - La Spiaggia (formerly Palermo) is closing or has already closed. The place is going to be taken over by Tony Gemignani of Tony's Pizza Napoletana next door: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                              -----
                                              Tony's Pizza Napoletana
                                              1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                              1. re: farmersdaughter
                                                grayelf May 14, 2010 11:15 PM

                                                Ack! I wonder if they will still have my round and tasty friends?

                                                1. re: grayelf
                                                  farmersdaughter May 16, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                  Keep your fingers crossed. I never did make it to La Spiaggia to see if their arancini were as good as Palermo's. Most of the other arancini I have had around town are too small - I prefer the tennis to baseball sized ones.

                                                  1. re: farmersdaughter
                                                    grayelf May 16, 2010 09:24 PM

                                                    Agreed. The little ones are too easily dried out, and don't give you enough creamy risotto-y goodness per bite :-).

                                        2. pamf May 8, 2010 12:28 PM

                                          Reviving an old thread, because I have tried a new version of Arancini at Pizza Nostra in the Potrero Hill area.

                                          Here's the description from their menu:
                                          ARANCINI SICILIANA FRIED SAFFRON RISOTTO STUFFED WITH SMOKED MOZZARELLA, BALSAMIC PESTO, ARRABIATA SAUCE

                                          The risotto was lovely and creamy, beautifully colored and flavored by the saffron, the smoky flavor from the mozzarella also came through. The arancini were very small, just one or two bites each. The appetizer portion ($7 if I recall correctly) was only two pieces.

                                          The arancini were plated with three sauces drizzeled around the plate, the red arriabiata, the green pesto and the dark balsamic vinegar. The presentation was lovely.

                                          I enjoyed these, but thought the portion was small, also the aracini were not cooked long enough for the cube of smoked mozzarela in the middle to melt. So instead of the lovely stringy cheese in the middle there was just a hard cube.

                                          -----
                                          Pizza Nostra
                                          300 De Haro St, San Francisco, CA

                                          Show Hidden Posts