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Mind blowing meals

lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 03:39 PM

Going to San Fran for New Years, what is the best Italian? Also reccomendations for breakfast/brunch and lunch places. Bakeries? Have been to Tartine and absolutely love it.

Have a reservation at The House, what are your thoughts? Do you like the slanted door more?

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  1. smatbrat RE: lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 04:01 PM

    Well what kind of Italian are you looking for? And any neighborhood choices?

    1 Reply
    1. re: smatbrat
      lovesfood11 RE: smatbrat Dec 22, 2012 05:48 PM

      We are staying at the Omni hotel. Good pasta and pizza, nice ambience

    2. Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 06:26 PM

      Some contenders for best Italian: Incanto, La Ciccia, Perbacco, Cotogna, A16

      2 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        lovesfood11 RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 22, 2012 09:19 PM

        Out of those which one would you choose and why?

        1. re: lovesfood11
          Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 10:59 PM

          They're all great but totally different. Incanto and Cotogna have their own styles of Cal-Italian. Perbacco's my favorite for a traditional multicourse blowout including a great cheese course. A16's Neapolitan like in Naples. La Ciccia is Sardinian and the owners make you exceptionally welcome.

      2. mariacarmen RE: lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 07:14 PM

        The House is ok, but not worth it for an out-of-towner, i don't think, if it's one of only a few meals you'll have hear. Slanted Door is very popular, but to me it's very much a scene.

        8 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen
          lovesfood11 RE: mariacarmen Dec 22, 2012 09:19 PM

          What would you choose instead of the house? We are looking for Asian fusion.

          1. re: lovesfood11
            mariacarmen RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 02:11 AM

            i haven't been since the remodel, but here's a link to E&O Asian Kitchen: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867906

            before the remodel, it was a place for drinks and maybe an app or too. i met the new chef at the SF Food Bank and she seemed very gung ho about updating the menu. like i said, i haven't been.

            i might argue that a place like Namu Gaji is asian fusion, but i'm not sure if others would agree... but i personally really liked it on our first visit recently.

            i'm sorry, i don't know if i know of others that i think are any good (i.e. Betelnut, which i think is horrible). Again-House is not bad, it's good - although it's been at least 12 years since I've been there...

            if you don't come up with any other asian-fusion, i would not try to talk you out of going to Slanted Door.

            1. re: lovesfood11
              Ridge RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 08:48 AM

              It's not Asian Fusion but I would highly recommend Mission Chinese which is kind of re-invented Sichuan. You will have a more memorable meal there than any Asian Fusion place I can think of in SF.

              1. re: Ridge
                tjinsf RE: Ridge Dec 26, 2012 11:43 PM

                memorable in that everything is over spiced or underseasoned you wait an hour for cold food? I think Mission Chinese food is Asian Fusion cause it sure isn't Sichuan.

              2. re: lovesfood11
                Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 10:30 AM

                Ame probably get the most praise on this board of any Asian fusion place.

                Mission Chinese has a lot of influences: Sichuan, Hunan, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Oklahoma City. The chef basically tried to create versions of his favorite dishes at his favorite restaurants in SF.

                1. re: lovesfood11
                  ipsedixit RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 11:37 AM

                  In terms of Asian Fusion, instead of The House, maybe consider Benu. I've not been that impressed with it, but my friends who live up in north are much more enamored with it than I am.

                  While not technically "asian fusion" you might also consider Jai Yun, which provides a dining experience hard to find outside of Toronto, Vancouver or Hong Kong.

                  And I know Hakkasan just opened up a branch in SF and having been to the one NYC, it might fit your criteria of "Asian fusion".

                  Lastly, the most memorable meal I've had in SF was at Saison.

                  Hope this helps.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    Robert Lauriston RE: ipsedixit Dec 23, 2012 11:47 AM

                    Jai Yun's great. It's basically Shanghai banquet food served as a tasting menu, so you don't have to order ahead and get ten people together. Reservations are essential, though, the chef shops and cooks based on how many people are coming.

                    At last report, Saison won't be open in their new location before February.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      ipsedixit RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2012 11:50 AM

                      Ah, yes, thanks for the reminder on Saison.

              3. Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 22, 2012 07:57 PM

                "Mind-blowing" is setting the bar pretty high, but the best meals I've had in SF in the past year were at AQ, Bar Tartine, and St. Vincent, plus the Italian places I mentioned earlier.

                1. d
                  Dustin_E RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 07:18 AM

                  your profile says "best meal you ever ate" was chinese food in las vegas... which i'm suspecting was wing lei in the wynn.

                  you might enjoy hakkasan, then. upscale, a little bit (but not too) westernized chinese, extremely nice decor and service.

                  i'm a fan of both.

                  my vote for "best italian" would be farina, or chez panisse downstairs (if you consider that italian.) both are very expensive. the others robert mentioned are also good, and a bit more reasonably priced.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Dustin_E
                    Robert Lauriston RE: Dustin_E Dec 23, 2012 10:33 AM

                    Upstairs at Chez Panisse is sort of Cal-Italian, but downstairs usually feels far more French than Italian to me.

                    I have to get to Farina. An Italian banker who eats out all the time told me it was his favorite place.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      smatbrat RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2012 12:09 PM

                      My GM used to be the manager there, he is from Rome and has lived in SF for 10 years. I asked him where he goes when he wants to eat like home and he said Farina. So that is now top of my italian list

                      1. re: smatbrat
                        Robert Lauriston RE: smatbrat Dec 23, 2012 12:16 PM

                        The banker was saying that a lot of ex-pat Italians he knows are really narrow-minded about Italian food and won't go to places with non-Italian chefs, so while he likes Perbacco, A16, and Poggio, he can't get some of his Italian friends to go there.

                        Speaking of Poggio, their annual bollito misto festival is a must. Usually starts mid-January.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          lovesfood11 RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2012 07:23 PM

                          What does everyone think of Zero Zero. There ice cream looks very interesting.

                          1. re: lovesfood11
                            Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 23, 2012 07:57 PM

                            Good place. Best to have a reservation.

                            1. re: lovesfood11
                              mariacarmen RE: lovesfood11 Dec 24, 2012 01:39 AM

                              i really liked Zero Zero, a lot. though i actually do remember not liking dessert. but everything else was pretty great.

                              1. re: mariacarmen
                                lovesfood11 RE: mariacarmen Dec 24, 2012 10:36 AM

                                That's too bad because the dessert actually looked better to me than the pizza. Did you find the crust to be too well done?

                                1. re: lovesfood11
                                  Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 24, 2012 10:52 AM

                                  I'm not a big dessert person but Zero Zero's soft serve ice cream with caramel or olive oil and sea salt is really good.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    lovesfood11 RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 11:10 AM

                                    How does it compare to A16?

                                    1. re: lovesfood11
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: lovesfood11 Dec 24, 2012 11:18 AM

                                      Zero Zero has a lot of California influence, A16 tries to do everything like in Naples. Totally different styles of food.

                                      A16 attracts a lot of Italian immigrants who probably wouldn't recognize Zero Zero's food as Italian.

                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 24, 2012 03:07 PM

                                      it's funny, but that's exactly the dessert i was referring to. maybe because i'd had an amazing version of that at Coi previously, i was tainted, and 00's didn't live up to Coi's.

                                    3. re: lovesfood11
                                      mariacarmen RE: lovesfood11 Dec 24, 2012 03:10 PM

                                      i loved their pizzas. i've not been to A16, but 00's and Tony's are among my top 5 pizza places in the City. the others are Delfina Pizza, Gialina, and i can't even think of the last...

                              2. re: smatbrat
                                Dustin_E RE: smatbrat Dec 26, 2012 12:14 PM

                                in my experience, farina is one of those places where, when you get the right dish, it is mind-blowingly awesome, and when you don't, it is just over-priced.

                                my favorites have been:

                                seafood stew (so much better than taddich or sotto mare)
                                tagliatelle with white truffle ($42 but amazing with very generous truffle shaving)
                                tempura calmari (best i've had in sf by a wide margin)
                                millefeuille with berries (almost as good as the one i had at arpege in paris)

                                also extremely good have been:

                                basil pesto handkerchief pasta
                                pansotti di recco with walnut pesto
                                the pastries they serve at brunch
                                ice creams, sorbets, and tiramisu

                                okay, but not sure it is worth the high prices:

                                lamb chops
                                focaccia di Recco
                                a squash ravioli pasta with basalmic vinegar

                                their service is usually efficient and friendly enough, but not always. (my friend calls it "italian style".)

                                1. re: Dustin_E
                                  tjinsf RE: Dustin_E Dec 26, 2012 11:49 PM

                                  Farina is also one of those places where it depends on who you go with and when. I've gone with Italian friends and been served pretty good food and had excellent service and went with American friends and both the service and the food has been truly horrible and it's happened enough time that I only go there with Italian friends.

                                  At La Ciccia, Perbacco, Cotogna the service and the food has always been excellent. La Ciccia is really good Sardinian. Then again I don't try to find authentic anything in San Francisco, one of the great things about restaurants here is they are always putting their own spin on it even when they are using words like authentic.

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