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Arancini: savoury balls of goodness in the City?

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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.

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      LOL!

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

      1. 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. 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. 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

              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

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

              2. re: meggie t

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                  1. 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

                      How are they? What fillings? What size?

                      1. re: SteveG

                        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....
                        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

                          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. I've had a good version at Ducca before.

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

                        1. 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. 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

                              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

                                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. 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. 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

                                  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

                                    54 Mint's are really good.

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

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      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

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

                                        1. re: Cynsa

                                          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

                                          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. 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. 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

                                          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

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

                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                              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

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

                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                  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

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

                                        2. 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