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Oct 13, 2009 07:31 PM

Where to take visiting Italians?

I have some business colleagues from Verona, Italy coming to town next week and I want to take them to some restaurants that they cannot replicate at home. Obviously, Italian is out. So far I'm thinking Sebo and Slanted Door. One of my guests is pretty "stuffy/uptight", so my favorite Taquerias in the Mission are out. I'll probably take them on a cable car ride down California Street to Swan's also...


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  1. Well, in the spirit of Swan, Tadich is something they can't replicate at home. If not Mission taquerias, maybe a more upscale Mexican place, like Colibri or Mexico DF. Something American? Town Hall? Bix?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Tadich seems dicey to me. The food is fundamentally Italian, basically a version of what someone from Ancona would eat if they went to the Italian coast for a vacation, and probably not as good.

    2. House of Prime Rib. Italians love huge American servings of beef.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        This is a fantastic idea. Unless they've been to Los Angeles or Vegas, they probably won't have had a huge slab of prime rib with all the traditional trimmings. Plus, the old school ambiance can't be replicated elsewhere.

        Upscale Mexican like Colibri, Mexico DF, or Tropisueno is also a great idea, but I'd to those for happy hour or lunch instead.

      2. Personally I would be disappointed to be served Asian food while in the US. Take them somewhere uniquely Californian or American. The stuffy guy might even be offended - "you think we don't know what good Japanese food is? Trying to show us off? Where is the beef?".

        1. Definitely california cuisine, Range fits the bill or Nopa. Your colleagues should experience solid food and killer cocktails. Ame is quite unique even though there is some Japanese influence there.

          1. Also don't forget about Chillango, the new Mexico DF offshoot that opened up in Duboce/Castro area; depending on where you are locationwise.

            As the slow food movement started in Italy, I actually don't think they'd be super impressed by California cuisine.

            4 Replies
            1. re: vulber

              My experience with slow food guide top-rated restaurants in Italy was different; I think they started the slow food organization because they were having a worse food crisis than we were, caused by rapid encroachment of parmalat and such. Perverse, I know, but don't knock our good california cuisine restaurants.

              1. re: SteveG

                I think vulber is right, California cuisine is generally too much like Italian food to be terribly interesting.

                Slow Food was started specifically in response to McDonald's opening a branch off the Spanish Steps. I was living in Rome at the time and there was no general crisis, just a tendency of teenagers to eat hamburgers. The tradition of shopping daily at the local open market was and is still much stronger. The foodie minority here was and is the majority there.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  At the open markets I visited in Italy, the quality and variety of the produce was nothing compared to what we have here. Yes, it was fresh and seasonal and thus blessed by slow food, but it wasn't all that good. Again, I think our local produce and restaurants that take advantage of it shouldn't be discounted. I would think the differences in preparation and ingredients that differentiate californian from Italian would be interesting to an Italian eater, but I'm probably wrong.

                  1. re: SteveG

                    Our variety is superior, but the ordinary produce I got at my neighborhood open market in Rome was comparable to the best I ever find at the best farmers markets here. Some things here rarely come close: garlic, tomatoes, melons, peaches, strawberries ... sigh.