Don’t miss the recently revamped Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Ferry Building. You might have to wait outside in a short line, even on Wednesday evening, but it’s worth your time (plus, you can stare at the gorgeous Bay view behind you if you’re really grumpy about waiting).
Exquisite oysters, excellent drinks (I loved the Marshall Mule), salads, ceviche, mussels — oh, and grilled cheese, because why not. Sitting outside on a nice night is beautiful but the inside is great too — it was expanded and remodeled earlier this year.
A trip to L.A. this past weekend brought me to The Tasting Kitchen in Abbot Kinney. I’ve heard only good things, and love the area — it’s a must visit for anyone even remotely in the area — and was not disappointed. Quite possibly the best waffle I’ve ever had, paired with two succulently fried pieces of chicken. My only complaint: The waffle-chicken proportion was way off — more waffle than chicken — though that didn’t stop me from wolfing the waffle on its own. Great drinks, beautiful space, many delicious brunch dishes.
I didn’t get to frequent PizzaHacker when it was a traveling one man show with owner Jeff Krupman using a makeshift Weber grill slash pizza oven to serve up pies all over San Francisco. But I did check out his new brick and mortar (conveniently located about three blocks from my apartment) and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the za. The “Yo Vinny!” – marinated onions, pickled goat horn peppers, hot Italian sausage from 4505 Meats, Krupman’s own tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella – definitely came out on top, but “Rocket Man” – arugula, garlic, fresh mozzarella, lemon juice and chili paste topped with an egg – was a close second. Only two wine options, but perhaps they’ll expand after getting settled. They didn’t do much to transform the space, previously occupied by a Peruvian restaurant, but with a giant chalkboard wall, strings of lights and no-frills picnic tables, it’s got a charming indoor beer garden feel.
New to the neighborhood in Noe Valley is La Nebbia, sister restaurant of La Ciccia (pretty much across the street). In the same vein as La Ciccia, they’re serving truly authentic Italian food, but with a more casual tilt. La Nebbia – which fittingly means “the fog” in Italian – just opened this week (and happens to be a block from my house), so my roommate and I decided to check it out.
Despite some definite first-week-of-opening glitches in service, it’s a really nice space and sure to be a neighborhood staple. An extensive Italian wine list, waiters from Italy, a few pizzas, fresh cheeses and meats (the bufala is really delicious). The menu is pretty hard to maneuver if you’re not familiar with the language, but it’s a fun foray into the unknown and I appreciate the authenticity.
I made it to the acclaimed and very-hyped Coqueta this weekend for a wonderful birthday dinner. The food was definitely excellent, but with restaurants like these that are written about so much and you hear so much about, you go in with super high expectations without even realizing it. So despite really great food, intriguing drinks (but not the best service, for the price you pay), it felt like it didn’t measure up in some way. I think the best eating experiences are those you expect nothing out of. So Coqueta was difficult, but undoubtedly delicious. I especially enjoyed a giant meat and cheese platter and all the hot tapas we tried.
I finally got myself over to Vesta in Redwood City last night. I’ve been dying to try what I’ve heard is very, very good pizza. Its an amazing spot. Tried two starters – a kale salad with jalapeño, pickled raisins, breadcrumbs, pecorino & avocado green onion dressing and grilled carrots with cilantro, paprika, cumin, garlic and lemon yogurt – and loved both. The carrots had almost an Indian-tasting tilt, with the cumin. Would be a great dish to recreate at home. The kale salad didn’t wow me, but I enjoyed it.
The real star was the pizza: sausage and honey (tomato sauce, huge chunks of spicy Italian sausage, mascarpone, fresh parsley, honey and serrano chilis sprinkled about). Heaven on a pie. Probably the best pizza I’ve ever had – the dough was perfect and I’m a sucker for the savory/sweet flavor combo.
All in all, an excellent addition to downtown Redwood City and the Peninsula food scene.