Us San Franciscans don’t usually hang around downtown and since pandemic, even much less so. Because the neighborhoods (which make up nearly all of town) we spend most of our time in have stayed vibrant, empty workplace buildings have stored downtown extra sparse, at the same time as conferences and occasion are serving to to convey it again. In the meantime, parking is nice in components of the Monetary District (FiDi) post-6pm, however not close to the Tenderloin the place glorious eating places and cocktail bars exist inside blocks of one another.
Nevertheless, the brand new Bar Sprezzatura — opening November 2022 — is in a straightforward parking post-6pm space, quiet at night time. In actual fact, the restaurant is barely open lunch and dinner, Monday by way of Friday, so it’s superb for workday conferences, European-esque lengthy lunches and night gatherings, from bites and drinks to a full meal. Visiting twice now, as soon as for lunch, as soon as for dinner, I needed to title it one of many prime 14 new restaurant openings of 2022.
Bar Sprezzatura is hidden — upstairs above a parking storage — and worlds away. The menu is cicchetti-inspired (Venetian bar snacks) and as a lot as the massive, glass-walled eating room may very well be in Italy (feeling extra Milan), it may additionally may very well be Paris. The Martin Brudnizki Design Studio-designed area homes mushy blue velvet and tan chairs and couches, lovable bar stools and what appear to be Parisian road lamps puncuating the room. It’s glowing and seductive at night time, soothing and relaxed by day. Whether or not the day is gray or sunny, the huge window partitions make it shiny and open whereas the luxurious decor is cozy. On the base of highrises in a water fountain-centered courtyard, Sprezzatura feels such as you’ve been whisked away to an Italian metropolis for bites and drinks.
The service makes it really feel much more so, with a couple of native Italians on workers, together with companion and longtime SF bar pioneer, Carlo Splendorini, gracious supervisor Paolo Fazzari and ever hospitable lead bartender Raymundo Delgado (Delgado created memorable cocktail menus at The Vault Backyard, Pabu, and so on.) Opened by Mina Group’s new offshoot, TableOne Hospitality (which launched close by La Société), and chef Joseph Offner (who got here from Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina in Tiburon), Splendorini partnered with TableOne’s beverage director Phil Collins on an oh-so Italian-inspired cocktail menu with cicchetti/bites accompanying drinks, alongside small and bigger plates from chef Offner.
Splendorini and Collins’ cocktails (Delgado might be co-creating cocktails with Splendorini going ahead) are definitely a key draw, from a variety of artistic Negronis and Spritzes to elevated classics and home cocktails. In true Venetian type, a few of the cocktails include cicchetti (bites) to pair with the drink. The Cicchetti martini arrives with anchovy stuffed olives, pepperoncini and shaved truffles, or the bracingly stunning Spritz’Atura’ — that includes certainly one of my all-time favourite Italian amari, Varnelli Sibilia, its bracing bitter balanced by chinotto soda and prosecco — comes with large black olives from Italy.
A frothy, tall Mi Scusi, Signor Ramos cocktail is a play on 1800s New Orleans nice, the Ramos Gin Fizz, however with Hendrick’s Neptunia Gin, silky citrus cordial, lemon, egg white and basil. There may be one drink standout after one other (together with Kentucky to Roma, a Whiskey Bitter variation with bourbon, lemon, honey, egg white made nutty-silky — and Italian — with amaretto oil). The “wow” second was an upcoming frothy, white cocktail of Uncle Val’s Peppered Gin, Parmigiana, lemon and white truffles with nutmeg shaved on prime. Savory and plush, it tasted like Italy’s Emilia-Romagna area in a glass.
Between the cocktails, a succinct however sturdy all-Italian wine record (from Alto Adige and the Veneto to Sicily), Italian beers (plus native Fort Level’s Sfizio Italian Pilsner) and a profitable mixture of spirits, together with over 30 Italian amari and vermouth, it seems that Sprezzatura is all about drink. And it may very well be.
Fortunately, it’s additionally about that interaction between drink and meals, with a variety of bites and small plates, plus filling dishes if you need make it a feast (straightforward to do right here). Chef Offner goes full steam with cicchetti on crusty-fluffy toasts, which he took time to supply till he discovered simply the suitable bread. Notable cichetti embody Santa Barbara uni over spicy Tempesta Heritage pork nduja (tributing a traditional Venetian baccalà mantecato) — much more decadent in the event you add caviar — or Scalia anchovies over butter and radishes on toast.
Bites additionally embody salumi and formaggi, The Caviar Co. caviar (I had this over Audrey Hitchcock’s of Ramini Mozzarella burrata and shiny tomato jam) or briny-good 1620 oysters from Plymouth, MA, in a zippy Prosecco mignonette with shalllots and chervil, introduced in by our personal Hog Island Oyster Co. Crudo is one other worthwhile go-to with drinks, whether or not native halibut crudo in passionfruit and pink tangerine olive oil, or velvety massive eye tuna tonnato with capers. A “chop” salad speaks to my Sicilian Jersey youth, however elevated for my grownup meals snob with fagioli di lamon beans, Jimmy Nardello peppers, mortadella, asiago mezzano cheese and walnuts.
On the extra filling, blessedly starchy aspect, Roman-style pizza al taglio comforts, particularly whipped artichoke Parmigiano pizza dotted with purple watercress, or a brand new margherita, blissfully salty with anchovies. It’s laborious to prime the mortadella pizza, graced with traditional burrata and pistachios, amped up in sweet-meets-salty type with Amarena cherries. Irresistible.
Pastas are one other pull right here, particularly whenever you get the best al dente chew of home bigoli noodles in Liberty Duck ragu, perfected with whispers of orange and clove, or vivid Marin Roots Farm beet casunziei pasta dusted in poppy seeds, Asiago stravecchio cheese and a sage leaf. One of many largest surprises is a play on sepe al nero, historically a black cuttlefish stew. Right here, it’s a placing black and white dish of whipped white Biancoperla polenta and black activated charcoal, as nice a play in flavors as it’s in texture.
By this level, the nice and cozy glow of both the afternoon or the glowing area at night time is taking on and it’s time to wrap the meal. You may simply drink your dessert, whether or not a Galliano Ristretto Espresso Liqueur and porcini-laced Espresso Martini topped with paper-thin chocolate biscotti, or an enthralling Negroni Caffé cocktail served in a espresso mug. The drink’s base is tuaca, a mix of Italian Brandy, Mediterranean citrus and vanilla spice, layered with Fernet and Galliano Ristretto. A spoon holding a bit of lemon sphere brings dwelling the standard Italy serving of espresso with lemon peel in a playful, good approach.
Spirits lovers (and professionals) like me lose their thoughts in the event that they know something about classic amari. A menu of over 10 classic amaro from round Italy runs from the Nineteen Sixties-Eighties. I gleefully savored the artichoke-thyme hit of Nineteen Sixties Cynar, the citrus-bitter of Seventies Sarti & Figli Biancosarti from Bologna, and an herbaceous, minty Eighties Etrusco. Or strive Splendorini’s fantastic thing about a $50 classic Negroni options Bottega Bacur Gin with Nineteen Sixties Cocchi Chinato and the aforementioned 70s Sarti & Figli Biancosarti. Sure, please.
However there’s dessert to eat, not simply drink, together with ice cream and sorbetto from Marin’s historic Italian gelato gem since 1982, Fiorello’s Artisan Gelato. Lengthy certainly one of my native faves, I savored their pistachio gelato and passionfruit sorbet at Sprezzatura.
The aforementioned Paolo Fazzari shared his mom’s unimaginable tiramisu recipe with the restaurant: fluffy, but dense, creamy, layered utilizing LA’s fashionable LAMILL Espresso for added earthy depth, it’s the very best tiramisu I’ve had in years. I weary of this traditional but overdone, ubiquitous dessert. Right here, I don’t need to.
In actual fact, that goes throughout the board at Bar Sprezzatura. What is finished in all places (pizza, pasta, crudo, small plates) is finished uniquely right here. From service to setting, I may very well be in Italy, however I’m very a lot in San Francisco, hidden up above the streets in a haven for mini-luxuries. Sprezzatura is transporting, romantic as it’s snug. For Italy lovers, foods and drinks geeks, it’s a welcome newcomer. For these of us with Italian blood, this glossy area feels downright homey. Benvenuta, Bar Sprezzatura!
// One Maritime Plaza #100, www.barsprezzatura.com
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