Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dinner at Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Pomodoro is one of those chains I actually really enjoy going to. After a recent happy hour in the Presidio some folks decided to check out the location in Laurel Village. It was quite crowded but they were able to accommodate about 14 or so of us. The comfortable ambiance allowed us to settle in almost immediately, despite the high noise level and bustling servers around us. The menu features food from Rome, and the wine list is especially appealing as it is well-priced and features wine by the carafe in a Quartino, Mezzo or Litro. I chose a Quartino of Borgo Pinot Grigio from the Friuli region. It had nice balance and was fruity on the nose and fresh on the palate. The group ordered much of the menu thanks for the number of folks in our party. To start we sampled the Bruschetta, grilled bread with roma tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil; Cozze, which is a wonderful bowl of delicious steamed mussels with white wine, herbs, garlic and butter, Gamberi, shrimp roasted in a cast iron tegame with tomato, garlic, chili and garlic bread, and Polpettine, tasty and hearty meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce served with garlic bread. Everyone enjoyed all of the dishes, especially the mussels. For my entree I enjoyed Insalata di Pollo, a mixed green salad with grilled chicken breast, Gorgonzola, carrots, tomatoes and balsamic dressing. There was a ton of Gorgonzola on the salad which I loved, and the chicken was moist and tender. Quite a tasty and healthy dish too. Other favorites included Verdure, pasta with roasted Brussels sprouts (yeah!), eggplant, asparagus, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli tossed with olive oil and garlic and spicy pomodoro sauce; Tortellini with cream sauce and pancetta; Gemelli with smoked and grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms in a cream sauce; and Parmigiana chicken with tomatoes, basil and asiago. Generally speaking the pasta in the pasta dishes was cooked nicely al-dente and the sauces were quite flavorful. I convinced folks to share a few sides - Cavolini and Spinaci. The Cavolini was gorgeous and I am so thankful to restaurants who put Brussels sprouts on the menu as they have a reputation for being mushy and flavorless yet in fact, when cooked properly, they are gorgeous. Pasta Pomodoro's take was lovely and featured the sprouts with onions, garlic, brown butter and sage. All in all quite a nice and hearty meal and certainly one you can easily enjoy wine with and which won't break the bank.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bring Your Own Wine to Caffe DeLucchi

Caffe DeLucchi, a really cute cafe in North Beach, has a great winter special going on now whereby on each Tuesday and Wednesday, you can bring in a bottle of wine and the corkage fee is waived. A nice group of us decided to enjoy the restaurant's tasty fare along with a nice selection of wines and we had a wonderful time. The only caveat is that each person who wants to take advantage of the no corkage fee deal must order an entree, but the prices are fairly sweet so it's really worth it regardless. Plus, if you add chicken to any of their salads, that counts as an entree. The group delved right into the wine, which ranged from dry Rieslings, lush Pinot Noirs to big Zins, and sampled a variety of the cafe's food offerings. A few favorites were the Carpaccio, thinly sliced beef with arugula, capers, diced red onion, shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese and extra virgin olive oil; Cozze e Vongole, or steamed black mussels and manila clams in a white wine, garlic and herb sauce with toasted crostini; Insalata Spinaci, which is warm spinach and bacon with balsamic glazed onions, diced roma tomatoes, goat's cheese and candied pecans; Prosciutto e Formaggi, a gorgeous plate of thinly sliced prosciutto di parma served with italian cheeses, seasonal fruit and toasted walnuts; Gnocchi Piemontese, or soft potato pillows served with gorgonzola cream sauce or with wild mushrooms and marsala cream sauce; Costolette di Maiale, or seared marinated pork chop with balsamic poached pears, white bean confit and an arugula and feta garnish; and Snapper con Granchio, or pan sauteed pacific snapper filet topped with a crab, artichoke, sundried tomato, basil and white wine butter sauce. servered with risotto of the day and sauteed vegetables. The staff was quite hospitable and the vibe was comfortable and relaxed, especially after some vino. I hope you pop in and take advantage of this great deal. Enjoy.

Caffe DeLucchi
500 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco

Monday, February 4, 2008

Iron Wine America at William Cross Wine Merchants

A bit late in posting on this item but William Cross Wine Merchants in Russian Hill is continuing its series of Iron Wine America tastings this year. They are themed based on the Iron Chef America series on the Food Network, and if last week's tasting is any indication, should be a whole lot of fun. The shop does a tasting each Wednesday starting at 6pm, and last week's tasting featured Oregon Pinot Noirs against Burgundy reds, also made from pinot noir grapes. I enjoyed all six selections, but generally preferred the offerings from Oregon. The 2006 Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir was my favorite - velvety and rich yet well-balanced and fruity as well. The other selections from Oregon, a 2006 Lange Pinot Noir and a 2005 Rex Hill Reserve Pinot were both nice as well. The selections from Burgundy were a 2005 Domaine Germaine Saint-Romain, a 2006 Dubois Savigny-Les Beaune Les Picotins, and a 2005 Nicholas Rossignol Cuvee L'Hertiere. Generally the European wines were stronger on the nose and tasted more of alcohol than the selections from Oregon, though I did enjoy the Domaine Germaine Saint-Romain quite a bit. The next Iron Wine America tasting should be within the next couple of months, so stay tuned. Cheers.

William Cross Wine Merchants
2253 Polk Street in San Francisco