Restaurant Review

The Richmond

Elegant California cuisine in an unusual setting filled with nooks and draped with curtains
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On the list of life's most perplexing questions, Where can I find a quiet restaurant? is rising fast. Increasingly I find myself presented with — even beseeched by — this inquiry, and increasingly I fumble. It's not that there aren't any, but their numbers seem to be dwindling, like those of book-readers or subscribers to newspapers. So when I find one, I am elated — quietly, of course.Read more »

Schmidt's

Doing right by traditional German cooking -- with plenty of schnitzel and spätzle
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Schmidt's, which opened last summer in the heart of the Mission District's latest trendy-food zone, would appear to be an offspring of Hayes Valley stalwart Suppenküche, but its parentage is actually traceable to Walzwerk. Suppenküche has a blond-wood look that seems to be part ski chalet and part beer hall, while Walzwerk conjures the spirit of contemporary Prenzlauerberg, the Berlin (once East Berlin) neighborhood where urban chic has bloomed amid war-ruined buildings. Read more »

Guns 'n' rosés

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If you like Beretta - and Beretta is very likable - you'll likely like its younger sibling, Starbelly. I wonder who is thinking up the names in the Beretta folks' briskly expanding universe of restaurants. "Beretta" makes me think of guns, while "Starbelly" sounds like a spoof of Spaceballs, Mel Brooks' epic spoof of the Star Wars franchise.Read more »

Brunch fitness

A brief guide to New Year's late-morning-and-early-afternoon gluttony

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Good morning, sunshine! Or shall we say good afternoon? You are perhaps in need of a solid dose of protein, vitamin C, and a little hair of the dog in observance of this fine new trip around the sun? No worries — we are blessed to live in a city that takes its lingering late morning gluttony very seriously. Here are eight sites to struggle out to for New Year's Day brunch.Read more »

Le Colonial

Mise en (Cosmo) place: The atmospheric former home of Trader Vic's serves French-influenced Vietnamese cuisine

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DINE Could there be a more enchanted address for a restaurant in San Francisco than 20 Cosmo Place? No. "Cosmo" gives us an urban, even cosmopolitan, glamour, while "place" suggests, at least, a degree of refuge from the maelstrom of city traffic. Cosmo Place does not disappoint; it has something of the air of Shepherd Market, the warren of quaint lanes stashed well off the main thoroughfares in London's posh Mayfair district, and also of the small plazas ringed with outdoor cafes you might find near the waterfront in Barcelona.Read more »

Bacco

Turning out lovely, California-inflected versions of Italian classics in Noe Valley
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paulr@sfbg.com

DINE Two autumns ago, I popped in on Bacco, in Noe Valley, and found a house in good order. The restaurant, opened by Vincenzo Cucco and Paolo Dominici in 1993, turned 14 that fall, and little had changed through the years except that the color scheme of the two dining rooms had gone from pumpkin to butter and sage, and a "Zagat-rated" sticker had appeared in the window at the door. I left with a sense of calm reassurance, like a parent who's just peeked through a bedroom door to see a child safely tucked in.

But safety is one of the world's illusions. Read more »

Coda

Lighting a candle to the new jazz club's intimate vibe and Cal-Ital menu
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paulr@sfbg.com

Coda is just the sort of stylish urban vault where you'd expect to find votive candles flickering on every table, but you don't. It's the visual equivalent of a promising dish that's lacking a final dash of some seasoning. The space has the look of a sound stage — exposed-brick walls, concrete floors, a large dining area uncluttered by pillars — and while there is something exciting about the vastness, vast spaces also fill up easily with darkness. Read more »

Tony's Pizza Napoletana

Stellar pies in a variety of styles, all baked in a troika of visible ovens
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paulr@sfbg.com

Carrying coals to Newcastle is hard work, so when we've finished up, how about some pizza to refresh ourselves? And where would we begin the search — North Beach, the Newcastle of pizza? No, too obvious. Chic pizza these days is found practically everywhere in the city except North Beach — in Dogpatch, in Glen Park, in the Mistro, and the Marina. Read more »

Noodle Theory

Straight out of Oakland
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paulr@sfbg.com

The migratory patterns of restaurants might not be as riveting or significant as those of birds, but they do offer their little quirks and joys. When an Oakland restaurant opens a second front across the bay, in the city — The City, our very own — one sits up and takes notice. I am talking about Noodle Theory, which is the first Oakland, or indeed East Bay, restaurant to hop across our little mare nostrum that I can think of in quite a while, or maybe ever. Read more »

Noeteca

Coffee in the morning, wine in the evening, and good food throughout the day
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paulr@sfbg.com

Wine — unlike, say, Coca-Cola — has never been a big breakfast drink. Unless you count mimosas, which are basically an exercise in camouflage anyway, champagne bearded with orange juice to give the appearance of healthfulness. Read more »