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Capannina - Fine Italian Dining on Union Street

watercolor Oct 24, 2009 12:45 PM

Ristorante Capannina was the destination for dinner the other night, thanks to helpful Chowhounders. Four of us - clearly tourists - arrived ridiculously early and not exactly dressed for dinner. No matter. We were welcomed with a glass of wine and given the window table where we could catch our breath and people watch to our heart’s content.

Dinner proceeded to unfold over several lovely hours, beginning with an antipasti of tender Calamari Staffed with Crab and Potato. The specials of the day included a salad of prosciutto-wrapped roasted figs with a balsamic-dressed mix of radicchio and arugula. It was a perfect balance of flavor and texture; sweet and peppery with a buttery accent of gorgonzola.

We proceeded to our main courses, which included Veal Scaloppine with Lemon-Caper Sauce, Braised Short Ribs in a Red Wine Sauce, and two daily specials featuring perfectly cooked duck and a ragu of crushed olives and rabbit served over house-made gnocchi. Portions were generous and the sides were well-prepared, including a spinach & parmesan risotto and goat-cheese mashed potatoes. We were introduced to Aglianico Terredora, a reasonably-priced Campania-region red with woodsy, cherry notes that complemented the assorted flavors of our dinners.

The service was attentive and unobtrusive, with Sergio (lured from the island of Capri by a Santa Rosa girl – but that’s another story) leading a team of servers who cleared plates, filled glasses and respected the relaxed and leisurely pace we’d seem to set for ourselves. As the evening unfolded, a well-heeled crowd of regulars was warmly greeted by owner Michele di Ruocco. But the signore didn’t ignore the sensible-shoe folks at our table, introducing himself and making us feel right at home with a spirited conversation about simmering ragus.

No room for the desserts or cheese plates, so we’ll just have to go back the next time we’re in the city. I should also mention Capannina offers a $25 Prix Fixed Menu featuring three courses, served from 5:00 – 6:00 PM. Capannina is at 1809 Union Street.

1809 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123