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Attention Perbacco lovers

m
mrs bacon Sep 1, 2010 12:37 PM

My in-laws will be in town next week, and I'm trying to decide where to take them Friday night. Perbacco comes to mind as they love Italian food (they've enjoyed A16 in the past). I just can't shake the memory of my one dinner there. My pasta was overcooked and the whole vibe was a bit...sterile? I haven't been back since, but I hear so many good things about it that I'm wondering if my experience was anomalous. La Ciccia and SPQR are two of my faves, for a point of reference.

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La Ciccia
291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

Perbacco
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

A16
2355 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123

SPQR
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

  1. b
    bobpantzer Sep 1, 2010 12:48 PM

    I've been to Perbacco for lunch and dinner many times and have never been disappointed. i would say your experience was an anomaly. On the other hand, I have never been disappointed at La Ciccia or SPQR either. Tough choices.

    -----
    La Ciccia
    291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

    Perbacco
    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    SPQR
    1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    1. Ruth Lafler Sep 1, 2010 01:39 PM

      Perbacco has been getting nothing but raves for the food lately. The atmosphere is definitely not as warm as La Ciccia -- it's more downtown/sophisticated, which may have struck you as sterile. I think it can be different depending on where you sit, with people finding the area under the stairs a bit more cozy.

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      La Ciccia
      291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

      Perbacco
      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      1. Scott M Sep 1, 2010 01:48 PM

        Maybe you want to try Sociale

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        Sociale
        3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

        1 Reply
        1. re: Scott M
          mariacarmen Sep 14, 2010 10:14 PM

          oooh, i second Sociale! i took my BF's parents there and we all loved it. sit outside if you can - there are heatlamps - because the outdoor patio is very charming. inside is a little more elegant but never sterile. I've been there twice now and everything we've tried has been excellent. meats are perfectly cooked, pastas are fresh, depth of flavor in everything. standouts were a rack of lamb and kobe style steak, but also a fresh pasta pork ragu one time was deeply satisfying. there's nothing cutting edge, but the food is consistently delicious.

          I like Perbacco very much, but love La Ciccia.

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          Sociale
          3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

        2. myst Sep 1, 2010 02:00 PM

          I like the food, but find the atmosphere very financial/business like. I'm work in finance and its not my favorite vibe in my down time.

          1. escargot3 Sep 1, 2010 02:13 PM

            I think the food at Perbacco is as good as it gets outside of Italy. I've been lucky to dine there 3 times in about the past 6 months. Once, my Italy-loving friend nearly cried with joy over the housemade "mostarde di fruita" served with the rabbit. I myself am thrilled by the scallops as well as by the lamb. I suspect your experience was an "off" night.

            And I also have enjoyed really great meals at La Ciccia - but I haven't eaten there recently.

            -----
            La Ciccia
            291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

            Perbacco
            230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

            1. d
              dordogne Sep 1, 2010 02:58 PM

              I can't fault the food at Perbacco (or Barbacco, for that matter), but I agree with your characterization of the vibe as sterile and with your enthusiasm for La Ciccia. Incanto might be a good choice--menu is imaginative and beautifully executed, less "rustic" than La Ciccia, and the room and service are warmer, none of that Financial District chill.

              -----
              La Ciccia
              291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

              Perbacco
              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              Barbacco
              230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

              4 Replies
              1. re: dordogne
                m
                mrs bacon Sep 1, 2010 03:09 PM

                I've only been to Incanto once, and it was for the special Fergus Henderson dinner, so it didn't represent the usual menu. I worry slightly that the more offal-ly things would be out of the in-laws' comfort zone.

                The other issue is that mom has hearing loss (as do I, actually) so many of the exciting new places are simply too loud for her to enjoy).

                1. re: mrs bacon
                  d
                  DavidT Sep 1, 2010 03:18 PM

                  I don't how old your in-laws are, but places like Perbacco and SPQR might have a little too much "hustle & bustle" for them. They might be more comfortable at a lower-key place like Sociale.

                  -----
                  Perbacco
                  230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  Sociale
                  3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

                  SPQR
                  1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  1. re: mrs bacon
                    s
                    sfbing Sep 1, 2010 03:36 PM

                    I think Incanto gets a bad rap--people stay away because they seem to think Cosentino serves nothing but guts. Usually there are plenty of non offally things on Incanto's menu for the nonoffal eaters.

                    http://www.incanto.biz/sample_menu.html

                    I agree that I thought Perbacco was a little cold when I went. I actually preferred Barbacco.

                    But how about taking the in-laws to La Ciccia?

                    -----
                    La Ciccia
                    291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                    Perbacco
                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Barbacco
                    230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    1. re: mrs bacon
                      d
                      dordogne Sep 1, 2010 09:00 PM

                      I agree with sfbing below--in fact, most of the menu at Incanto is not offal (e.g.,they do a wonderful pasta dish with shaved dry tuna heart similar to La Ciccia's, veal-stuffed agnolotti, pork belly, and on and on). In addition, they did a renovation about a year ago that greatly enhanced the acoustics for conversation.

                      -----
                      La Ciccia
                      291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                  2. m
                    mrs bacon Sep 10, 2010 01:30 PM

                    We decided on La Ciccia. Thanks for the input.

                    -----
                    La Ciccia
                    291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrs bacon
                      s
                      SteveG Sep 14, 2010 12:55 PM

                      For future reference, places like Perbacco have several distinct areas of their dining rooms, and the noise level depends on where you are seated. Always worth requesting a quiet table when you make a reservation, and even calling a few hours in advance to emphasize that.

                      My personal opinion is that Perbacco is the best of the restaurants mentioned. My few nits with Perbacco from the first year it was open have all disappeared and my most recent meals there really left nothing I could criticize, and I'm pretty good at finding areas for improvement. Conversely, I've thought Incanto has slid as the chef's time gets spread more and more thinly between his salumi business and TV appearances. That, or my tastes are evolving and Incanto is stuck in time.

                      One last comment: Sociale is a lovely restaurant with a quiet and sedate interior that is great for people who are hard of hearing. They aren't putting out revolutionary food that gets lots of press, but I've been there a half dozen times and always been happy with my meal.

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                      Perbacco
                      230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      Sociale
                      3665 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118

                    2. d
                      DandySF Sep 15, 2010 08:03 AM

                      My favorite seats are the booths that line the right wall when entering. Although they are in the bar area, the noise is much less than in the back, where the dropped ceiling creates a cramped and noisy atmosphere.

                      http://www.thesluicebox.com/

                      1. m
                        mrs bacon Sep 22, 2010 11:37 AM

                        Thanks for all the input. We ended up going to La Ciccia, and it did not disappoint. Although the in-laws didn't go for the sardines or even the calamari, they did enjoy the spaghetti with bottarga and the lamb loin entree. I forgot that in that small space, it does get a little noisy, but the delicious food and gracious service made up for that.

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                        La Ciccia
                        291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                        1. d
                          dolcevita_sf Oct 15, 2010 02:46 PM

                          I've had two wildly different experiences at Perbacco.

                          My first visit with my husband and a friend late last year was fantastic. We loved every bite of every dish, and service was also excellent. I considered it great value, and was excited to return.

                          I organized dinner for a group of six there in July. And was actually embarrassed to have done so. Pastas were swimming in water, which of course diluted the sauce. Flavors/textures were just lacking all around. Service was not especially great - one of our guests had to wait quite some time for his entree after the rest of the table had been served, and then his side dish was not delivered until several minutes after that. Prices felt high for an extremely lackluster experience.

                          We might have just caught an extremely off night, but there are just too many places that are reliably good. Perbacco is now off my list.

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                          Perbacco
                          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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