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Jun 30, 2010 07:35 AM

Where can I experience the most authentic Scampi in the Bay area?

About 15 years ago, we resided in the East Bay, and my husband commuted to UC Davis.The delight of our culinary existence was a few times a week, we would meet in Union Square, head to our favorite little restaurant on Geary, near Macy's, and savor their Scampi..Huge scampi, lots of garlic, and a sauce to die for..Even now, our mouths water each time we share those memories.
Unfortunately I think they closed their doors about 1997. I think there were a couple of other restaurants also in the city, by the same name, which I cannot remember. This restaurant had been at it's location a very, very, long time. It was so wonderful, the chef remembered you, and started your dish the minute you arrived.
Now, I want to move back, and I have to have a restaurant that creates those memories and provides the same quality of service and food. I am hoping that someone might help me and recognizes the restaurant of which I am referring to.

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  1. I'm curious and don't want to set off a debate about "authentic", but was this dish made with real scampi (an Adriatic crustacean resembling a sort of cross between a shrimp and a Maine lobster or just large shrimp? I have never seen real scampi in California.

    1 Reply
    1. re: little big al

      i know what you mean, most restaurants do not serve authentic Scampi. However, that is the other character of this dish that made it so very wonderful.

    2. There was an Original Joe's off-shoot near Macy's. I can't remember the exact name - not Little Joe's or Broadway Joe's. However they did close right around that date, and the certainly seem like the kind of place that would have a memorable scampi dish.

      Little Joe's
      1106 Market St, San Francisco, CA

      Original Joe's Restaurant
      301 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

      3 Replies
      1. re: Calvinist

        New Joe's? Something like that. I used to go there with my dad. I can't think of many places like that, now. Not even Spenger's has scampi.

        1. re: Glencora

          New Joe's it was, I think . And it was on Geary, near Macy's. Like you I would expect them to serve a shrimp scampi. However I never ordered the dish there so I can't say. But location and description sounds right. It was a tad nicer in terms of decor than the other Joe's I've been to.

        2. re: Calvinist

          Little Joe's is now at Mission and Fifth St, ground floor of the Pickwick Hotel.

          Might try spiny lobster prepared Italian style, sorta like real scampi.

          Little Joe's
          1106 Market St, San Francisco, CA

        3. I remember the was a "Joe's". Used to serve "pazutti" (corrupt name of a type of ravioli). I don't recall them serving authentic scampi (tho they may have served "shrimp scampi", popular now). The only place I recall that served real scampi was Oreste's then later Orsi's. It was the favorite of a good friend of mine...altho a bit too pricey for me. Oreste told me he did not make money on the dish, since real scampi was so expensive...but he had to have it on the menu. It was dusted in flour and lightly cooked in butter. Tastes like lagostinos, or rock shrimp, but very sweet. I doubt if anyone serves scampi any more...since most people expect shrimp or prawns. It was never available fresh, only frozen, and only one seafood wholesaler carried it (forget the name, but it was on Pacific ave near Polk)

          1. You got me hankering for this dish! Found Jumbo Prawns Scampi Style (Gold MIrror, 800 Taraval) and Scampi Biarritz (whatever that means, Rist. Marcello, 2100 Taraval SF). Who knows if either are close to what you remember, but both restos have been around forever.

            1. If anyone find true scampi--aka Dublin Bay Prawns & Norwegian lobster--in the SFBA, please give a holler!

              On a trip to Europe last year I relived the joy with 2 or 3 encounters with "langoustines," the French name for them. Fresh, they're incomparable.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Fine

                At the Fort Mason FM. there is a vendor of fresh fish with a lovely display and mostly great stuff (scallops not so much) and giant (4-5 per pound) prawn tails. Withou seein the front I couldn't really identify them, but they are good and not frozen and about 22 bones a lb. (But a serving size could be one.)

                1. re: little big al

                  they are good and not frozen and about 22 bones a lb.
                  May I assume that's $/lb?

                  1. re: wolfe

                    That is correct. Sorry for lapsing into "hip", I've been listening to Lord Buckley this week. 22 dollars a pound.

                  2. re: little big al

                    Unless they were Monterey Spot Prawns in season, I doubt they were fresh. They were probably "thawed for your convenience".

                  3. re: Fine

                    In June we rented a flat literally 50 ft from Mercat La Boqueria in Barcelona. We cooked up langoustino a couple of nights. YUM!!

                    I've not seen langoustino served in the Bay Area, but would love to know where if anyones knows.