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Mar 11, 2010 11:54 PM

La Ciccia or Aziza for a nice dinner?

Hello Chowhounds!

I am in SF now, eating my way through your amazing city! Thank you for your help in my last post and I will definitely be reporting on the first few days here very soon.

I am planning to go to both La Ciccia and Aziza for dinner (as well as Canteen, but that will be on my own), but need your help in deciding when to do those dinners as well as with whom. There is one casual dinner I will be doing with friends and one that I will be doing with my colleagues in which we will be taking a mentor/benefactor out for a meal. Which place would be better for which scenario? Or are both unsuitable for the nice dinner? The dinner with the mentor/benefactor doesn't have to be super fancy and can be casual but nice, but of La Ciccia and Aziza, which is more "special occasion"? Or would Range be better? Which has the better food? As one of these dinners is happening tomorrow night, the speedy advice and help of you very generous SF Chowhounds would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you so very much!!!

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  1. The only way I could see Aziza being casual is if you were to sit at the bar and have some of their amazing cocktails and maybe order a few plates; it has a pretty formal atmosphere otherwise

    1 Reply
    1. re: vulber

      While I don't think of Aziza as being formal, (and also don't think of it as a good place to eat at the bar, btw, despite the wonderful cocktails: that bar area is very small and can get very crowded, even when the restaurant isn't as full), I completely agree with the conclusion behind vulper's post: Le Ciccia is the dinner to have with friends, and Aziza is better suited to the dinner with your mentor.

      For one thing, Aziza has the Michelin star, and the cocktails, and yes, while it isn't formal service is probably more formal there than La Ciccia. It is also bigger with a bigger restaurant /destination feel. Heck, they even have a valet. La Ciccia has more of the feel of a neighborhood place that just happens to serve wonderful/destination worthy food, has a fantastic all Italian wine list, and with some of the warmest service in the City. Besides, you will want to share at La Ciccia and that is more conducive to a dinner with friends.

      I like Range, but wouldn't second guess your original choices. Aziza for the semi business meal, La Ciccia for the other.

    2. I was also considering Ame or Range for the "nicer" meal in addition to considering Aziza and La Ciccia, though at this point it seems like La Ciccia is out considering the replies of vulber and susancinsf. Thanks for your speedy replies!

      2 Replies
      1. re: j.jessica.lee

        little confused by this answer. I thought you were asking for which meal where, and I guess I assumed if you were to substitute Range for something, it would be for Aziza. (because Range is a bit more 'special occaison' in feel, at least arguably).

        There is no way I would choose Range over LaCiccia if coming from out of town and had limited meals in the city, unless it was *extremely* important to me to have cocktails at every meal (LaCiccia is beer and wine only. for that matter, I don't even know what they have in the way of beers. for me, it is all about the wine). I haven't made it to Ame, a gap I'd really like to address soon, but it is more special occaison, I believe, than any of the other options.

        Nor would I want to be in the position of choosing between Aziza and LaCiccia. I've had great experiences at both, but they are different.

        disclaimer: when I lived in the City LaCiccia was my favorite restaurant and I was a regular there. Of course, it was walking distance from my house and Aziza was across town. that said, I am still welcomed back as a regular when I get a chance to come to the city and to dine at LaCiccia, and it is still one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, for many reasons, not the least of which being its welcoming staff.

        1. re: j.jessica.lee

          Ame is definitely the nicer of all of those restaurants, and is much more business-y. Ame also has the advantage of being much easier to get to if you're staying downtown than Aziza, if that is a consideration. I've had good meals at both, but I wouldn't think of Aziza as being a place for a business kind of dinner.

          I'd pick LaCiccia over Incanto (if you can get reservations), though I've had good meals at both; La Ciccia is a very friendly and cozy place, and while the food is great at Incanto, the service isn't quite as friendly. Also, while they do some classics well, the menu at Incanto is more adventurous, so I think it depends on your dining companions for if Incanto is the right place for the group.

        2. Ugh, sorry for yet another question: How do La Ciccia and Incanto compare? Is there one that has the superior quality food/cooking? Are they both really unique? Is there one you love more than the other? THANK YOU!

          4 Replies
          1. re: j.jessica.lee

            Keep in my I've only eaten at each place once, but I found my meal at La Ciccia to be the more memorable of the two. I thought the food was a bit more rustic and comforting -- like what someone's grandmother would make (but very professionally executed, high-quality, etc. as well, of course) -- and I prefer that, especially when it comes to Italian cooking.

            But Incanto certainly isn't a bad option either, especially if you're really into innards and such.

            1. re: j.jessica.lee

              I think Aziza is too romantic for a business dinner, and Range's rooms aren't very special occasion. Ame is very formal and in a completely separate price range.

              The places you're asking about are really apples and oranges. Or apples and tomatoes--very very different.

              La Ciccia is a cozy neighborhood restaurant. Incanto is a more formal haven for adventurous eaters. The food at both is wonderful. Both have their fans and detractors. You'll really need to try them yourself.

              You might want to start with Open Table and availability. These are all very popular restaurants, unlikely to be able to accommodate a group on a Saturday with very little notice.

              1. re: Windy

                funny thing is, I don't necessarily think of Aziza as romantic. I had one very succesful business dinner there (we did eat early, however, my colleague was on east coast time).

                it is a good point about availability.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  I think Aziza gives a warm mood which could be romantic with the right people, though it was a perfect place for me to take my sister's in laws. It just makes everyone feel a little bit closer which can work even in a business dinner.

            2. I'd take friends to the place I think would be more fun/interesting, Aziza. I think La Ciccia is safer and a better pick for colleagues or biz associates.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                I second ML8000, Aziza with friends -- it's darker and more conducive to group eating and sharing. For biz, you'd be better off at La Ciccia, the dishes are sized for the individual. The pastas are great, especially anything with bottarga or tuna heart, they even had an uni pasta the last time I was there. For the "nicer" dinner, if cost is not important, I'd go to Ame over Range.

                1. re: wanderlust21

                  We've been to Aziza and La Ciccia once each. Both were excellent for different reasons and I'd agree with the comments that Aziza has a bit more romantic appeal, especially if you get seated in one of the semi-circular tables. The reason I'm posting is... may have been a one off but it was sweltering at Aziza the evening we went and not because of the weather outside which was cool (March of last year).

              2. May I just rave a little about La Ciccia?

                My friends and I had the most fantastic meal at La Ciccia tonight. We had the special burrata appetizer as well as the baby octopus stew appetizer. The burrata was so rich in flavor and the texture was so creamy yet with a little chew. The octopus were some of the most tender I've ever had and the tomato stew it was cooked in was so hearty and full. Great way to begin the meal.

                We got three pasta dishes: spaghetti with bottarga, a special fresh linguini with squid ink and mixed seafood, and the malloreddus with pork ragu. They were spectacular, each one. I have had a lot of great Italian food in New York and this definitely equals, if not surpasses anything I've had there and definitely comes very close to the food I had while in Italy.

                We also shared the lamb with sapa main course which was cooked a nice medium rare. One of the center pieces was a little too rare, but I'd rather that than the other way around.

                We also got the selection of gelati: fig, olive oil, and something with raisins. They also sent out the semifreddo with almonds and quince sapa on the house and that was REALLY delicious.

                All in all a FANTASTIC dinner. I loved it so much that I am considering bringing my colleagues and our host/benefactor back here for our special dinner. Am I crazy to repeat? Is a meal at Aziza likely to equally blow me away or should I bring my colleagues back here? What do you think, Chowhounds??? Thank you for such a great recommendation!