Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Pane E Vino
As I wrap up my time in San Francisco and pack up to return to college out East, I thought I would share one of my favorite restaurant discoveries from the summer. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, these were all taken on my blackberry!).
Pane e Vino (bread and wine in Italian) is a trattoria on Union St. in Cow Hollow that serves some of the best authentic Italian you can find in the city. The decor is misleadingly unassuming, for the food, although simple, is perfectly portioned and exquisitely balanced in flavor.
One thing I've learned from San Francisco dining is to sit at the bar - you will often get a chance to interact with the owner, chef, or other staff, and will have a more special dining experience. At Pane e Vino, the bar is located right next to the wood-burning oven and small prep station, where you can watch the chefs prepare the salads, desserts and mouth-watering pizzas. On this particular night, our spot at the bar meant that the executive chef, Bruno Quercini (below), gave us five-star treatment as he served us lightly fried white anchovies, house-cured coppa salami with fennel and pickled onions, extra fun appetizers and dessert (including a taste of a sweet dessert wine) - all in addition to what we had ordered.
The master chef made us feel like one of the family as he passionately described his work ethic and love for food. When he learned I had studied abroad in Barcelona, he served us deliciously delicate white anchovies (below) that reminded me of my nights in tapas bars. At the bar, you'll feel like you've landed in Europe as the staff speaks to each other in Spanish, Italian and English; we all bantered in Spanish and the little Italian that I know throughout the night.
As we could hear Bruno singing Italian from the kitchen further inside, it was obvious that this man simply loves what he does, and he certainly does it well. His energy made our stay at the restaurant (what was supposed to just be a quick bite to eat on our way out of the city) into an incredibly delightful experience.
A couple of highlights from the meal:
Delicately fried white anchovies - delicious, I promise!
My pizza (with tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula) fresh out of the wood-burning oven, alongside Bruno's house-cured coppa salami with fennel and pickled onions.
For dessert, Bruno surprised us each with a light and airy puff pastry filled with just a dab of pastry cream, and garnished with whipped cream, strawberries, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, Hawaiian wildflower honey, and plum sauce made from plums in his garden (so much for a simple garnish!). It was the perfect light bite to end the meal.
Thanks to Chef Bruno for a great night and a special dining experience (and thanks to my boss, Marissa for the recommendation!). I'd recommend this trattoria any night of the week for some delicious Italian comfort food - just be sure to sit at the bar for a memorable night!