The way food looks does count, after all. A crock of fresh shelled beans ($4.50) was enlivened by flecks of crisped pancetta, tasty and textural if not quite comely. We enjoyed this dish, but would it have killed someone to straighten the knot and smooth the lapels before sending it out the door a sprinkling of grated cheese, a dollop of rouille, something to say the beans weren't just shoveled in there by some weary hasher?
A pizza ($13) topped with mozzarella, corn, and basil chiffonade was a good summery combination. Also, it featured no pork, which made the pie a kind of intermezzo. The basil was a bit wilted from the heat of the oven, but the pizza on the whole was decent-looking, if not a prom queen. Cured pork returned soon enough: as pancetta in a moist, colorful tramezze ($6) of shrimp and avocado, and as prosciutto in a piadine of asparagus spears and montasio, a mild, fresh cow's-milk cheese from Friuli in northeastern Italy. The asparagus was a little underdone, but the montasio melted luxuriously in the panini press and had a way of making one let go of any misgivings. That's part of the power of grilled-cheese sandwiches.
As at Beretta, the dessert menu is brief and gelato-heavy. Coppetta gianduja ($7), for instance, consists of a small chocolate torte nestled under a tower of two gelato globes and a squirt of vanilla cream. I found myself thinking of a possible new hat fantastication for Beach Blanket Babylon in addition to a new porkpie hat for myself.
Dinner: nightly, 511:15 p.m.
568 Haight, SF
Beer and wine