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Porcellino [San Francisco]

Incanto's reincarnation is now open. No reservations, order at the bar.

http://www.porcellinosf.com

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  1. Sandwiches look reasonably priced, though I guess that depends on size. Wonder how the porchetta stacks up against Elmira's and others?

    2 Replies
    1. re: bigwheel042

      Porchetta was juicy and decadently fatty

      1. re: bigwheel042

        Agree with Barley, the porchetta is juicy and delicious, the portion size is very substantial -- I happily took some home. On Friday, they also had a tuna heart pasta listed as a special.

      2. Nice to see they kept the bay leaf panna cotta; that has long been one of my favorite desserts in the city.

        1. Went tonight. The porchetta was good, nice crisp skin, moist inside. The porchetta large plate is made for sharing with three slices and a acidic salad. I took one slice home.

          They also have very good shortbread style cookies.

          We also tried the Tuna conserva which was good for the pescatarian but I will the egg was more runny.

          The space looks much the same. The market space is pretty small with most still being the dining area. Everything was under $16 and there were options for vegetarians too.

          1. I tried the sausage, rapini and polenta as a takeout item tonight. It survived the 2 minute walk home well. The sausage was excellent, polenta creamy and rapini very garlicky.

            I'll be back soon to try the meatball sandwich.

             
            4 Replies
            1. re: absc

              Watching someone eating the meatball sando, I can hear the crunch of the grilled bread with each bite from 15' away. Looks like its served in a puddle of marinara that the customer is spooning on the edge. Smells great, threads of melted cheese, looks like more meatball than bread.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                A trusted friend had the meatball sandwich yesterday and reports that "It was so GOOD! Get it soon!"

                Meanwhile, I was pleased with my take-out salumi plate.

                1. re: absc

                  The way I was obsessing over the meatball sando you wouldn't think I'd just finished my own lunch! Maybe I was observing your friend.

                  Here's Cosentino's Instagram of the meatball sandwich.
                  http://instagram.com/p/m3gqN7STbh/

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I finally tried the meatball grinder and give it a thumbs up. The properly melted cheese and sauce reminded me of childhood meatball grinders. For a to-go order they provided extra sauce in a separate container, which kept things from getting too soggy.
                    The child loved the soft serve ice cream. She opted for Valhrona pearls, always a favorite and strawberries, which were sliced and very juicy, per the menu "conserva."
                    Additional praise for the glasses of sparkling water served while we waited.

            2. I didn’t just stare at other customers yesterday. I ordered one of the daily specials, spaghettini & tuna heart, $16, and took a seat at one of the two large tables.
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

              Looking around the room (nearly 3/4s full at lunch hour), the most popular items seemed to be the pasta with ragu and the spaghettini carbonara, supplemented with salumi and giardiniera. It was sort of surprising that there weren’t more tuna heart orders, since it was one of Incanto’s signature dishes. In any case, it was really wonderful if a bit too dry towards the end. I was very glad that it still makes an appearance here.
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

              Chris Cosentino was very much in evidence running in and out of the kitchen, directing traffic at the host’s stand, and taking in the mail.
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

              More photos:
              https://www.flickr.com/search/?tags=p...

               
              6 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Heh. Melanie, your "more photos" link brought up a page of...kittens! Here's a better link:

                https://www.flickr.com/search/?tags=p...

                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                  Thank you. The original link goes wonky from mobile, works fine on full web view.

                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  Is the tuna heart special something that's offered consistently? I'm going to be in SF next month (LA 'hound here) and am so sad to have missed the opportunity to try Incanto, but this dish sounds amazing. May try La Ciccia's too just to compare.

                  Does Porcellino offer other offal dishes as specials?

                  1. re: TheOffalo

                    No idea, and since its only been open for two weeks, the Porcellino folks probably don't know themselves either. You can follow on twitter and/or Instagram for occasional specials (e.g., sweetbreads) or just call the day you want to go.

                    1. re: TheOffalo

                      When we stopped by yesterday, there were (I think) 4 specials, including the tuna heart. Offal was on the list as well.

                      1. re: absc

                        Good to know, thanks!

                  2. Went last night. Porchetta was excellent, flavorful, crisp skin, as good as it gets. Carbonara was fine, a good second dish for the two of us. A few slices of San Daniele prosciutto were excellent, though they proved to be more than we needed.

                    Can't say I was thrilled with ordering at the cash register/bar. One person was slowly dealing with confused customers, credit cards, drawing draught beer. Just like at SuperDuper Burger. Seems quite inappropriate for this level of food, even given the very creditable informality of the place. What's wrong with a waiter/waitress taking orders?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Thomas Nash

                      Eliminating table service allowed them to drop their prices instead of raising them. They'll probably get more efficient with time, they've only been doing this for two weeks.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yes, and they have already acknowledged the current employees are stretched thin and that they are hiring.

                    2. Went for dinner last night, had the small chef choice salumi platter, lard fried potatoes with nduja, porchetta plate with arugula/fennel salad, pasta carbonara and two Straus soft serves, one with strawberry conserva and one with coffee sea salt and olive oil. Porchetta was very good, salad balanced it perfectly ( the porchetta I had recently at Box and Bells was much better in terms of flavor but not in terms of fat to meat ratio); salumi was good, no surprises there, served simply with a radish; carbonara was good, not great, had a lot of peas that had no flavor (couldn’t convince my wife to split the tuna heart pasta); potatoes were great, not quite as good as those smoked potatoes at Bar Tartine, but really good; ice creams were excellent.

                      Totally agree about the ordering system, it’s a little funny for this level of food, I can see it for lunch but for dinner it’s a bit awkward. You kind of have to decide if you’re going to close out your tab when you order, so if you later decide you want dessert or an extra item you have to reopen a tab. I kept the tab open but when you want another drink or dessert you have to stand in line again, have them fish out your credit card from a pile, then sit back down again, then wait in line again at the end of your meal to close out the tab. Also, how much am I supposed to tip for this kind of service? I can see it saving them money of wait staff but they’re likely leaving money on the table for more wine, beverages, dessert etc. because of the system.

                      Overall I like it a lot and since it’s reasonably close to my house and reasonably priced I can see it being part of a regular Friday night rotation. Surprised to see it half empty on a Friday night, but I imagine that’ll change as word gets out about the new place.

                      1. Had the porchetta plate at lunch. Enjoyed it very much, especially the salty crispy bits of crackling on the outside of the roll. Came sliced in thick slices with salsa verde and an arugula and fennel salad, a good sized portion for $16. It had just the right amount of fat, and the slight bitterness of the greens on the side went well with it.

                        I like the more informal ordering system, though I wonder how well it will work with a full restaurant. It was fairly quiet at 1:30 on a Saturday.

                         
                        1. Went in last night, ordered a couple of things from the chalkboard. I sat at the bar, where the ordering and service experience was much the same as when it was Incanto.

                          Fried sweetbreads and baby artichokes were really good. Blood sausage grinder with pickled ramps was fantastic. Had a bite of the porchetta sandwich, damn that's good.

                          I like the new wine list, lots of good values in lesser-known regional wines. 40% off bottles to go (i.e., standard retail pricing) so it doubles as a wine shop for the neighborhood.

                          They're offering porchetta dinners for parties of 8 to 20 starting at $39 a head:

                          http://www.porcellinosf.com/group-dining

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That blood sausage grinder is really something else. Need to have it again before it's off the chalkboard menu.

                            Note they've changed their hours on Sunday to 3-9.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Fried sweetbreads with baby artichokes is almost enough to get me to trek out there!

                            2. Tried their porchetta sandwich. The porchetta was extremely moist with plenty of fat, but lacked the crispy skin. I would order it again but still prefer Roli Roti's version and Cafe Rouge's version.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: felice

                                For crispy skin, I like the crispy pork shoulder at R&G. The meat is not as juicy as Porcellino though

                              2. I've shared some recent take-out from Porcellino.

                                The Italian Dip, $9, meatball sandwich was everything I'd anticipated it could be. The roll was soggy by the time it got to me, but I loved the marinara sauce (extra served on the side), the meatballs, the cheese, and everything else about it.

                                The Mortadella hot dog, $7, is served on a New England-style top-loading, buttered and grilled bun. This was decidedly on the chewy side rather than airy, sort of like stale bread that has been freshened up. The hot dog was pretty bland and even the spiced up mustard could not make it interesting. Not worth the price to me.

                                The Arugula, strawberries and ricotta salata, $8, wouldn't win any beauty contests in take-out form. But it's a delicious combination with a black pepper-heavy dressing. The perfume of the ripe strawberries wafted from the box and bag and I picked up their scent as soon as it was brought into the room.

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. Since they specifically call out the Sunday Supper (http://www.porcellinosf.com/2014/05/s...), as opposed to just saying they're open on Sundays, has anyone been and is the menu any different?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                    Same menu on Sundays (with daily specials on the chalkboard, not shown online). It's just called Sunday Supper because they're not open for lunch (well, not until 3 pm).

                                  2. Went back to Porcellino a few more times and tried a few more things:

                                    Italian dip - very good, bread has a nice texture and the simple tomato sauce has a good bit of tang.
                                    Italian Sausage, broccoli di ciccio, beans, charred onions & aioli - enjoyed this as well, sausage had a pleasant funkiness to it.
                                    Rigatoni & Incanto’s pork ragù with a duck egg - this was good, pasta was al dente. May not have needed the egg.
                                    Lard-fried potatoes & hot nduja - really good, almost too salty. Potatoes were nice and crisp on the outside. Would be good with a beer or two.
                                    Porchetta, giardiniera, pickled peppers & arugula sandwich - I didn’t like the porchetta in this sandwich as much as in the porchetta plate, was a little too dry. Maybe it was an off night. Also think the giardiniera and peppers may have tilted it into too sour territory.

                                    From the specials board:
                                    Spaghettini with shaved cured tuna heart and egg yolk - I thought this was ok only.

                                    I wish that they would make a pasta dish with some of the bottarga they sell at the front counter.

                                    1. At about 1/3 capacity, it might have been the emptiest Noe restaurant at 8pm on a Friday.

                                      The $10 Chef's selection salumi platter contained lonza and two other meats. Good stuff, but I wish I'd asked what would be on it--- we'd also ordered a board item, lonza on melon. Also costing $10, it contained the same quantity of lonza as on the salumi platter served with underripe melon.

                                      Spaghettini amatriciana : the thick and spicy sauce clung to the al dente, almost unyielding pasta, making for a lovely textured dish. But the main draw was missing tonight--- for some reason they used pancetta instead of guanciale, so it lacked enough porkiness to compete with the tomato sauce and spiciness.

                                      Porchetta plate : the porchetta, though tender, had all the fat rendered out and lacked a crisp skin. Fennel and arugula was very acidic, but well matched to the meat.

                                      The casual format made for a rocky experience. The salad, salumi, pasta, and meat were all delivered at the same time. That might have worked with full sized dinner plates, but made for a mixing of dishes on the small bread plates provided.