Where To Go Next: San Francisco | August 2004
Pizza Pairings Named after an Italian motorway, A16 specializes in Neapolitan pizzas from chef and partner Christophe Hille, who is certified by the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association. The restaurant offers unusual wines by the glass—like Rosso Conero from the Marche region—to pair with Hille's pizzas and Campania-style dishes. DETAILS 2355 Chestnut St.; 415-771-2216.
Best New Restaurants
Quince Chez Panisse alumnus Michael Tusk perfected his pastas at Oakland's renowned Oliveto. At the tiny new restaurant he co-owns with his wife, Lindsay, Tusk always keeps a few of those dishes on the menu: agnolotti with guinea hen and rabbit, for instance, or English pea ravioli with mint. But new creations, like white asparagus with egg and brown butter, or mixed roast of quail, garlic sausage and squab, are sure to give the pastas some competition. DETAILS 1701 Octavia St.; 415-775-8500.
Cortez Union Square's hip new Hotel Adagio hired ubiquitous restaurateur Pascal Rigo to create a popular hangout with a creative small-plates menu. Rigo tapped husband-and-wife chefs Quinn and Karen Hatfield—whose combined experience includes stints at Spago Hollywood and New York's Jean Georges and Bouley—to turn out whimsical Mediterranean dishes. In the dining room, a lively crowd samples shots of spring-onion soup with a tarragon-pea foam and date-and-mint-crusted lamb sirloin with cumin-scented carrots. The bar's funky design elements, especially the backlit Mondrian-style panels, add to the upbeat atmosphere. DETAILS 550 Geary St.; 415-292-6360.
Baraka It's no surprise that a Moroccan-Spanish tapas restaurant would have a sultry vibe, but owner Jocelyn Bulow sets the mood better than most. Terra-cotta-colored walls and soothing lounge music complement a menu that ranges from Moroccan-style meatballs to braised pork breast with caramelized chestnuts, and a cocktail list that offers a number of inventive sake-based concoctions. Bulow is also planning to open a new restaurant in the Embarcadero later this summer. DETAILS 288 Connecticut St.; 415-255-0370.
Tablespoon In this small Russian Hill restaurant, chef and co-owner Robert Riescher is serving a more casual New American menu than he did when he cooked at the elegant Erna's Elderberry House, near Yosemite. But his creativity and pedigree are evident in dishes like the white-bean soup with duck croquettes and the roast duck breast and confit leg with spaetzle and watermelon radishes. DETAILS 2209 Polk St.; 415-268-0140.
Nectar Wine Lounge Passersby may not know that this sleek Marina spot offers more than just a great wine list. But should they walk past the honeycomb-shaped wine display case, which shows off some of Nectar's 600 bottles, they'll find a loungey dining area with brown velvet chairs, low tables and an appealing menu from chef Alex Placencia. Top choices include the plump, caramelized scallops accompanied by black-bean-studded mashed potatoes and the duck confit and arugula with Asian pears and Manchego cheese. DETAILS 3330 Steiner St.; 415-345-1377.
Iluna Basque Mattin Noblia, Iluna Basque's 24-year-old chef-owner, doesn't look old enough to drink, never mind run a restaurant. But the southwestern France native has impressive experience: He started cooking at age 14 in Europe and later trained under San Francisco chef Gerald Hirigoyen at Piperade. At this North Beach spot, he's serving a menu of Basque small-plate dishes, like sautéed scallops and artichokes deglazed with Banyuls vinegar, and mini cast-iron skillets of piperade (the Basque region's signature stew). DETAILS 701 Union St.; 415-402-0011.
Town Hall Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal's fans now have twice as many options. At Town Hall, the brothers, who also run the kitchen at Postrio, offer hard-to-resist regional American dishes, like a robust cioppino and slow-roasted duck in gingersnap gravy. DETAILS 342 Howard St.; 415-908-3900.
Propeller The selection of housewares at this Hayes Valley shop is never predictable. The concisely edited collection, which showcases the work of up-and-coming artisans, includes everything from handblown Italian glass to a new line of rugs from Angela Adams. DETAILS 555 Hayes St.; 415-701-7767.
True Sake Reputedly the nation's only store dedicated to sake, this shop offers more than 140 varieties. DETAILS 560 Hayes St.; 415-355-9555.
Hotel Carlton This 1927 hotel in lower Nob Hill just underwent a complete renovation and reopened in May. The Carlton combines a strong sense of style with exceptionally affordable prices. In keeping with the hotel's multiethnic design scheme, the 163 rooms feature hand-painted Moroccan tables; hallways are decorated with travel photographs from the American Himalayan Foundation. DETAILS Doubles from $89; 1075 Sutter St.; 800-922-7586.