When in North Beach ... head for perfectly creamy risotto alla pescatore and sweets like Nonna used to make
Risotto alla pescatore has to be, at $17.75, one of the better buys on this or any comparable menu. For one thing, it was just choked with seafood, including black mussels, clams, calamari, and prawns. For another, the rice was cooked in flavorful liquid. The menu card mentioned pinot grigio and garlic, but I suspected the presence, too, of some kind of seafood stock, whether shrimp, clam, or fish. Makers of risotto tend to be obsessed with the complex mechanics, in particular the need to stir the rice constantly for 18 minutes, and to keep the stock at a simmer as you add it cupful by cupful, so you produce the characteristic creaminess. You can make perfectly creamy risotto with plain water, then tart it up Milanese-style with butter, pepper, and parmesan. But there is nothing like cooking rice, whether arborio or some other kind, in flavorful stock or broth, as here.
The flaps of veal in saltimbocca ($23) were generously overlaid with flaps of prosciutto,, whose saltiness helped balance the sauce, a frascati wine reduction infused with rosemary. Frascati is the wonderfully fruity white wine produced in Lazio, the region around Rome — highly drinkable, but if it isn't on the wine list, having it as a sauce isn't a bad fallback position. The plate was finished with coins of roasted potato and asparagus tips, the pinnacle of adequacy.
Dessert: how about profiteroles ($7)? With a twist: the pastry balls were filled with pastry cream, while the vanilla ice cream (as a scoop) had to wait outside. Lots of chocolate sauce. too, just the way Nonna used to do it.
Dinner: Mon.–Thurs., 5:30–10:30 p.m.;
Fri.–Sat., 5:30–11 p.m.; Sun., 5–10 p.m.
1315 Grant, SF
Beer and wine