SANF February 2015 : Page 91

and bracingly fresh, each piece of fish offers a master’s thesis on the paradoxical rela-tionship between restrained portions and explosive flavor. (7/14) 3282 Mission st. (near 29th st.), 415-525-4750 handmade dumplings to the small dining room, including, yes, soup dumplings and an excellent shrimp and chive. Szechuan specialties give you a reason to return for dinner. (10/13) 4416 18th st. (near eUreka st.), 415-626-4416 La Ciccia $$$ DRW Chef Massimiliano Conti, a native of Sar-dinia, Italy, seeks to create flavors that are exactly what you’d find in a Sardinian res-taurant, not California-ized approximations thereof. Order the tender baby octopus stew in spicy tomato sauce and the fresh-made fregola, heady with sea urchin and cured tuna heart, and ask your waiter to pair it all with something unusual from the all-Italian wine list. La Ciccia is the only Sardinian res-taurant we have, but it is arguably the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco. (3/13) 291 30th st. (at ChUrCh st.), 415-550-8114 super duper Burgers $ W At this cheerful burger joint in the Castro, the meat is ground daily and respectfully prepared, charred on the outside and pink-ish in the middle. The most basic presenta-tion is brushed with “super sauce,” a kind of tangy mayo, and offers the option to bulk it up with bacon, cheese, or a second patty— the last an act of excess if you also opt for a vanilla milkshake, thick enough to eat with a spoon. But the best thing on sliced bread here is the chili-marinated chicken breast on ciabatta. (9/10) 2304 Market st. (at 16th st.), 415-558-8123 ON A PLATE & ON A DATE La nebbia $$ D For authentic Italian, there is no place more beloved than La Ciccia, owned by Sardin-ian chef Massimiliano Conti and his wife and host, Lorella Degan. Which is why their second, more casual spot, located a kitty corner away, has been packed since day one. La Nebbia is all about pizzas (a popular one is topped with squid ink, pine nuts, raisins, anchovies, and fresh mozzarella), lasa-gnetta, and different levels of prosciutto. The Italian wine list is expectedly excellent. For dessert, the fresh ricottina with honey is essential. (2/14) 1781 ChUrCh st. (near 30th st.), 415-874-9924 Chinatown, Embarcadero, and North Beach Bouli Bar $$$ RW The women of Boulettes Larder have brought their restrained, pitch-perfect style and devotion to rarefied ingredients to Bouli, where the menu has a strong Mediterranean bent: a salad of purslane, barberries, bul-gur, and pomegranate; blistered pizza with spicy lamb, feta, and mint; a meze selection; and more. Wood communal tables, an open kitchen, and low lighting transform the Ferry Building location. (10/13) Ferry BUiLd-ing MarketPLaCe (eMBarCadero at Market st.), 415-399-1155 Castro and Duboce Triangle Landing a table here requires the kind of months-out planning more common for the French Laundry, though the payoff is California comfort cooking: local, seasonal, satisfying, safe. Melissa Perello works adroitly in the genre. She nests duck confit in sweet lentil ragout, with a back bite from escarole and Rome Beauty apples. Kale, which cameos in ricotta gnocchi, moves on to star in its own salad, with dates, crispy shallots, and fennel agro-dolce. Is Frances worth the wait? The answer is yes; there’s just no guarantee that you’ll get in. (2/12) 3870 17th st. (at Pond st.), Frances $$$ DRW Coi $$$$ DRVW HOT 415-621-3870 Of a beautiful coin of beef, caked lightly in lichen, a server says, “It has ancient flavors common to our distant ancestors.” Our Paleolithic forebears feasted well, it seems, but not as well as diners do today at Coi, where Daniel Patterson’s strict focus on his 11-course prix fixe menu provides a night of fresh discoveries. Sautéed abalone on a bank of farro and wheat berries is lapped by currents of squid ink. A tomato mousse tart with a pesto base and an olive tuile top stars as a classic trio. The snug, subdued dining room feels like a place where everyone’s eavesdropping. But mostly what you overhear is “My God, did you taste this?” (11/11) 373 Broadway (at BartoL st.), 415-393-9000 Mama Ji’s $$ W In a hood not known for great Asian restau-rants, this little Chinese dim sum spot is more audacious than the most flamboyant drag queen. Feisty Mama Ji runs out good, Ferry Plaza seafood $$$ RW Ferry Plaza Seafood may have lost its Embarcadero home, but it hasn’t lost its way. Its new North Beach new How to read tHe listings Restaurants with star ratings were reviewed by Josh Sens, San Francisco ’s chief restaurant critic. Sens dines anonymously, and his expenses are paid by the magazine. Nonstarred listings were written by San Francisco con-tributors and staffers who have dined at the restaurant. Please note that a lack of stars is not an indictment of a restaurant’s quality. These listings aren’t intended as a definitive critical assessment, but rather as a shorthand guide to some of the best current dining in the Bay Area. Prices Average cost of an entrée $ = $10 or less $$ = $11–$17 $$$ = $18–$24 $$$$ = $25 or more Symbols D = Dinner only R = Reservations taken C = Cash only V = Valet parking W = Wheelchair accessible Ratings Our admittedly imperfect star rat-ings are based on food quality, variety, service, ambience, and value. ★★★★ = Superlative ★★★ = Excellent ★★ = Very good ★ = Good = Below average Enjoy an evening you won’t experience elsewhere. Churrasco, our age-old tradition of grilling meat on swords, has been around for three centuries. Taste a variety of fourteen meats served tableside, along with an extensive selection of salads and side dishes. Try it; your meal will be unforgettable, and so will your evening. 710 South B St. San Mateo 650.342.8700 1686 Market St. San Francisco 415.552.8792 NEW = Open within the last six months HOT = Highly sought after


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