La Ciccia, SF report w/ pics
FREE bread - we didn't care for it. Olive oil is an extra $2.
1. fresh sardines sauteed in EVOO, garlic, parsley & bread crumbs $9 - 3 sardines, I thought they were fine, they leave them whole w/ bones & heads.
2. bottarga pasta w/ garlic, EVOO $16 - small portion since it's First Course-really enough for 1, but we shared it since we weren't that hungry. A bit too al dente & doughy, fish egg flakes when all mixed in didn't have much taste, though was creamy.
3. side of veggie B. picked cabbage $5 - fine for me, B. thought it was very salty.
4. seafood salad w/ lemon oil dressing $12- very tasty w/ lots of calamari, shrimp, mussels. This was good.
5. assorted artisanal gelati $8 - 3 different scoops were goat cheese w/ fig, saffron, & marsala w/ raisin. All were fine.
6. B. got a glass of wine $8 - he liked it.
Another table got the $2 olive oil tasting & then he wanted to buy a bottle. The owner (I think) asked the chef & customer was able to buy 1 bottle for $15 + tax. So if u like the olive oil, ask to buy one - maybe they'll sell it to u.
bill was $63.51 before tip. They take credit cards.
One unisex bathroom in the back.
Hrs: Tues-Sun 5:30-10p
We went earlier this year because the place was so highly touted on Chowhoud. It was ok, but did not live up to the reviews. The cracker bread everyone raved about tasted like cardboard. The food was good but not as vibrant as good Mediterranean food can and should be. I thought maybe we were there on an off night and we planned on going back to give it a second chance but haven’t made it there yet.
Three of us had a great meal last night. As always the owners were super-friendly and welcoming. We arrived right when they opened at 5:30 since our friend had a plane to catch, and I was worried because the place was empty or nearly so for a while, but by the time we left around 8 it was full.
Ordered all three special appetizers. Housemade prosciutto was delicious and nice on the flatbread. Stuffed grilled squid were great. Braised chicken gizzards were the best I've ever had, right up there with goose gizzard confit in Perigord.
Then had four pastas. Fregola with fresh ricotta and tuna heart was amazing, reminiscent of risotto, but richer, kind of overshadowed the linguine with clams, mussels, and saffron. Fresh maloreddus (similar to cavatelli) with pork sugo and aged pecorino was great. A special of some sort of fresh macaroni with a sugo of goat, veal, and prosciutto with myrtle berries was delicious and the spicing was new to me.
Unfortunately at that point we were stuffed. This is one of the handful of restaurants where every time I eat there I wonder why I don't go more often.
They're doing a family-style single seating dinner on New Year's Eve:
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131
Some quick comments:
I'm impressed with the care put into the explicitly Sardinian dishes, the three best for us were all evening specials: gnocchetti sardi with ragù, pretty much traditional malloreddus with boar. The malloreddus themselves were unremarkable but hold the sauce well. The meat flavors in the sauce were medium, not strong or particularly clear -- overpowered by the rich tomato flavor. Excellent consistency, too heavy on the fruit rather than the flesh.
My sense is that La Ciccia likes concentrated tomato flavor, because a stewed tripe dish - better than the gnocchetti - was also really a tomato stew. The tripe itself barely came through in flavor, but its texture was perfect: soft but well short of the total mush you sometimes find in callos or menudo.
The standout in the meal was tagliarini with cured (that is, salt-preserved) tuna heart. Intense, fishy flavor - almost old botarga meets bonito flakes. The chef had the good sense to match it with moderate chilli spiciness. The thin pasta stayed completely coated with the sauce. My only complaint would be that the sauce is a little oily - there was still oil (very flavorful oil) left in the plate after lifting a forkful of pasta. An outstanding dish, somewhat offbeat, not for everyone, but anyone who likes anchovy pizza with hot peppers is seeking these flavors.
For dessert we ate little ricotta cakes flavored with saffron and orange. These were unnecessarily gilded with sliced almonds (a quick scrape fixed that).
Pane guttiau and (very fine) Parma prosciutto were not as noteworthy, although certainly edible.
As other reviewers mention, La Ciccia is friendly, personable, and crowded. The wine list is long and well-considered, with plenty of Sardinian choices. Cannonau aficionados will delight.
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131
re: David Sloo
It's one of the best Italian wine lists in town--the only lists I know that might beat it are Acquarello's and Incanto's--and no one has such a broad and deep selection of Sardinian wines.
I ♥ La Ciccia. There are several (not many) other Italian restaurants in the area that make equally good food, but I don't know anywhere else that gives customers such a warm welcome. The only similar experiences I've had were in Italy. They really treat you like family and the place is clearly a labor of love.
re: Robert Lauriston
re: Ruth Lafler
Among other things, being short of money due to periods of unemployment makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have such great Italian restaurants around and afford to enjoy them. Also, I think the lousy economy has encouraged some other places to be friendlier and more attentive to their customers (never a problem at La Ciccia).
I'm still hard on places that don't measure up: