I was celebrating a big birthday this year and Chow P thought San Francisco would be the perfect spot because of my love of food and wine plus I had never been there before.
After booking our flights I eagerly started researching restaurants. We initially had only four nights so I knew it was going to be a difficult task narrowing down our selections. This became even harder when we excitedly decided to spend the last day in Napa. With just three nights, I had my work cut out for me.
The first reservation I made was at Incanto. I'd heard great things about the Italian food being served in San Francisco and wanted to make that a priority one night. I was also very familiar with Chef Cosentino's passion for working with offal. His dishes always sound interesting and the combination of pasta and offal was something I knew I would really enjoy.
However, I reluctantly ended up canceling the reservation and substituting in Perbacco. We made the change primarily because Perbacco was closer to the hotel and we knew we would be tired after the long flight coupled with the time change. I also wanted to set the proper eating tone for the rest of the trip. I couldn't afford to lose Chow P on night one with a long cab ride coupled with an adventurous menu. I wasn't overly concerned about the swap because I had also heard very good things about Perbacco and knew that we weren't stepping down in class.
Our reservation was early for us (6:30) on a Thursday night. I expected it to be crowded at that time since it is located in the Financial District and it was packed. It was lively and had the buzz of a big city. Our waiter was friendly and helpful.
I started with a small order of the house cured salumi (salumi misti). This featured approximately seven to eight different meat selections and was a very generous portion size. I knew going in that I wasn't going to get much help from across the table and this really needed to be shared. I tried everything but intentionally did not finish it all because I wanted to save room for an appetizer and pasta. I did not know exactly what was on the plate but I can tell you that this was some of the best salumi I've had anywhere and I will leave it at that.
Up next was a dish I couldn't wait to try after seeing it on the menu. It was roasted octopus and poached wagyu beef tongue served with golden potatoes, celery heart and salsa verde were equally as impressive. The octopus was fresh, cooked perfectly and tender. The beef tongue was sliced very thin (carpaccio) and was also very tender. The celery heart, salsa verde and potatoes were extremely flavorful and really brought the dish together. It was a delicious combination. Chow P proved that the switch was a good call by starting with a salad that was well, a salad.
We were both looking forward to taking advantage of Perbacco's numerous housemade pastas since we have a hard time finding fresh pasta in Miami. Thus, we ordered the Tris, three tastings of pastas to be shared by the table. The selections were the diners choice and I believe there were approximately ten dishes on our visit. They all sounded fantastic so it took us some time narrowing down our choices. Our first choice was the Robaton, a truffle herbed ricotta gnocchi with wild mushroom sugo. Our second selection was pappardelle with black belly lamb ragu, peas and mint. Our last selection was the Tajarin, tagliatelle served with 5 hour pork sugo and porcini mushrooms.
We enjoyed all three pasta dishes but felt that they were on the heavy side. This was probably our fault since we ordered the lamb ragu and pork sugo. The pasta was very fresh and cooked perfectly. The meats and sauces were flavorful and hearty. We both really enjoyed the soft gnocchi along the wild mushroom sugo. It was probably my favorite pasta dish of the night although the lamb ragu with mint were a flavorful combination.
As usual, I knowingly over ordered. Thus, no dessert for me.
The atmosphere was perfect for our first night in town after a long flight. Perbacco was very good but I wouldn't put it in the "special" category especially by San Francisco standards. That said, if I lived there you would find me sitting at the bar eating the salumi misti on a regular basis.
The new Michael Mina (in the old Aqua location) was just three doors down so we popped in to say hello to John Riccardo, GM @ Bourbon Steak Miami who was in town assisting with the opening week. Sommelier Matthew Turner (formerly of Bourbon Steak Miami) was working the floor and poured us a great glass of champagne. It's a great looking space and I really enjoyed my birthday dinner there on day 3. Stay tuned.
230 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111