Dinner at Venticello in San Francisco

While Giff tends the kitchen at home in Rye in 100 degree heat, I have been on business in San Francisco. After meetings were finished yesterday evening, I went with a colleague to Venticello, a small Italian restaurant on Nobb Hill. We took a cab from downtown; the streets around there are incredibly steep and it would have been an adventure in my suit and heels. Brought back memories of wheeling Audrey around there in her stroller on our visit in March (wearing sneakers then).

The restaurant is on the corner of Taylor and Washington and boasts a peek-through view of the Bay Bridge through the corner window, open to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. Still on NY time, the restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived and we were early enough to grab seats close to the view. (The photo here looks back at the dining room away from the view at the pizza oven.) The service was friendly and reasonably attentive, although I discovered a service peeve – waiters who obsess over the possessive. Why did this waiter describe the specials as his very own? “my soup today is…” “my appetizer special is…”? Does he really think we believe he’s going down to the kitchen to put it together personally? Or that he designed the menu? “Our” would have been so much more appropriate. I know – picky, picky.

The food was very good. I had a lovely beet, bibb lettuce and tomato salad to start served in a raddicio cup (which went by the tongue-twisting name of Barbabietola) and the rabbit special to follow. Rabbit is not something I usually gravitate towards, but there was something very warm and satisfying-sounding about the dish (guess the waiter did his job well there) and I had great memories of a rabbit dish Michael Granne cooked for us once (my then 13-year old niece Ashleigh was visiting at the time and we had to tell her it was chicken; she was appalled when she discovered what it was, but had eaten and enjoyed most of it by that point). I remember being pleasantly surprised at the color, consistency and flavor of the meat. This rabbit came stewed in a delicious brown sauce with mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, served around polenta – I really enjoyed it. The meal was rounded out by a lovely Italian red wine chosen by my colleague from Taurasi in the Campagna region. Altogether a very good meal.