Restaurant Review

Rio Grande

New pop-up bar from the Bon Vivants mixes kitsch with quality -- especially if you order the off-menu cocktails

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That's amore

Original Joe's old school Italian conjures New Jersey nostalgia

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE After moving from Southern California to New Jersey at age 14, I learned what a true city was when I discovered New York City. Whenever in that New York state of mind, I miss its boundless energy, frank people, eclectic neighborhoods, and, yes, East Coast-style Italian. I reminisce about family dinners filling up on mountains of cheese, doughy pasta, and impeccable red sauce — which, to achieve perfection, should exhibit both sweet and savory notes. In both NYC and NJ, it was often perfect. (I miss you, Cafe L'Amore).Read more »

Acquerello

Nob Hill fine dining that might be worth the price tag -- cheese cart and all

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Who to drink

SUMMER DRINKS: Five bartenders look to the past to create some of the Bay's best cocktails -- and tell you what to sip for summer.

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Namu Gaji

Their new space may be smaller -- yet the adventurous Asian spirit of Namu's Lee Brothers remains

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Although Asian outpost Namu Gaji is brand new, the presence of Namu restaurant itself and owners the Lee brothers — Dennis, David and Daniel — has been felt in San Francisco for years. Since 2006, the Lees have been weaving Korean, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines with California spirit in the original, now shuttered Richmond restaurant and eventually Namu's Ferry Building farmers market stand on Tuesdays and Saturdays. In early April, the brothers opened their Mission incarnation, Namu Gaji.Read more »

Seafaring

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APPETITE Fish makes me happy. Raw, grilled, seared, any which way. One new restaurant and one established favorite are glorifying the fish, and seafood in general, in many formats.

LOCAL'S CORNER

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New cocktails now

Flaming Spanish coffee, kumquat shrubs, 'infierno tincture' .... fresh delights at Comal, Copita, Grand Cafe, and Absinthe

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Wet your whistle: Here are a handful of spots in Berkeley, Sausalito, Union Square, and Hayes Valley with new drinks to put on your warm weather radar — and accompanying bites to go with.

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Comforts of the flesh

Meat's a treat at Presidio Social Club, American Eatery, and O3

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Oxtail three ways, a hammy biscuit, gourmet meatloaf... comfort comes in each of these forms at new spots (or in the case of Presidio Social Club, with a new chef) in meat dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Sushi east and west

Revamped Joshu-Ya Brasserie and new Saru Sushi Bar increase our sushi diversity

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Despite the countless lauded sushi restaurants I've eaten at in NY and LA, I find San Francisco more than keeps up, whether due to the staggering range of fish (and lovably surly attitude) Roger delivers at Zushi Puzzle (www.zushipuzzle.com) (pencilfish or flying fish, anyone?), the sustainable efforts of Tataki (www.tatakisushibar.com) and Sebo (www.sebosf.com), or the pristine precision of Sausalito stalwart Sushi Ran (www.sushiran.com), which tops overrated Nobu (www.noburestaurants.com) restaurants, in my book.Read more »

Upper highs, Valley loves

Appetite: Jerk-spiced duck hearts, kambocha squash spaetzle, mango curry -- the best of Upper Haight and Cole Valley

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