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Dec 15, 2010 11:15 AM

Cotogna review [San Francisco]

A friend from out of town specifically asked to go to Cotogna, so we went last night. My overall impression was very good. The dishes were all good, and the gnocchi were the best I've ever had.

We started with the house made ricotta with wild mushroom crostini. The ricotta was to die for. My companion ended up wiping out every little last bit with his finger, because it was too good not to. How did they do it? Special high fat producing cows? Where has this ricotta been all my life? It was nicely complimented by the mushrooms and bread.

Then we had the rosemary gnocchi with braised duck. The best gnocchi ever. They were so pillowy, you wanted to take them home and sleep on them. The accompanying simple duck sauce was great with them. We like this dish so much, we considered ordering another round, but (barely) managed to contain ourselves.

Next up was the garganelli with rabbit, chanterelles & artichokes. This was a very nice pasta dish, with a nice sauce. In another meal, it might have been a stand out, because it really was quite good, but we were so smitten with the ricotta and the gnocchi, it was hard to get our attention.

However, the spit roasted pork with wild fennel & hot pepper managed to grab us. It was again a question of how did they do it? How did they manage to get all that fennel flavor to perfectly blend into the pork? Did they feed not only the pig itself, but its mother and several generations of pigs back solely on fennel? And how did they know that fennel and pork go perfectly together? There was not one thing wrong with this dish. I want to eat it again right now.

Some restaurants don't really seem to get dessert. It's just an afterthought for them. The bònet with caramel & amaretti crumble was OK, but why not just call it almond flan, and get on with your day? They were already out of the panna cotta by 8:30, and the gelato of the day was vanilla. So, Cotogna, some work could be done in this department.

Generally, really good, though! Two thumbs up!

490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

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  1. Thanks for the report. Did you have a reservation?

    2 Replies
    1. re: steve h.

      Yes, we had a reservation, which I made a couple weeks earlier.

      1. re: kzukor

        David Lynch is the wine guy at Quince. I knew his work at Babbo, other Batali places. How was the wine selection?

    2. I loved the bonet. It's a traditional Piemontese dessert that you rarely see here and their version of it was pretty good, and pretty traditional in its flavors. I suppose they could add an explanation of what it was, but calling it almond flan is calling it something that is different from what it is. I note that a lot of the menu uses either Italian or Piemontese dialect without explanation/translation, so my dining partner asked me for clarification on some of the dishes, including the bonet.

      I agree about the ricotta - it was a terrific dish. I also recommend the sformato and the halibut tartare. Next time I'm going to try some of the pastas.

        1. Cotogna is pretty special.

          Deb and I walked in last Friday without reservation. We liked Quince at their old shop and wanted to try Cotogna because we are fans of the Tusk family of foods.

          We walked in early, sometime near 5 p.m. and were led to the bar on the right. There are two bars: one in front of the wood-fired oven on the left and the proper bar on the right. The barkeep was charming and built me two martinis over time that were head-and-shoulders above the usual Bombay/Hendricks stuff. Well done. Deb liked the Di Gresy Nebbiolo. Wine steward Lynch has assembled a menu of bottles at $40. It's a decent list.

          Dinner service proper (pizza is always available) starts at 5:30 p.m.We shared the sformato, a raviolo and a little veal. These were wonderful dishes. Panna cotta to finish, maybe the best I've had in San Francisco. Grappa selection is quite good, espresso is good, too.

          We like Cotogna and what the Tusks and Lynch have built. My only regret is that I won't be able to just walk in after word gets out on this place. Yes, it really is that good. Especially on cold, wet evenings.

          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. Thanks for the post. I was looking at the menu prior to doing a search on CH and was wondering if the pork tasted as good as it sounds. Not only did you answer my question you had me chuckling over what you wrote.