Observations on Food in the Bay Area
website - on 18th St just off Guerrero in the Mission, this little restaurant packs a wonderful Italian punch. It's quite small, and notoriously difficult to get reservations for, but during the right time of year, the patio out back is a perfect place to eat, being out in the air (yet covered), and often much quieter and less hectic, not to mention more intimate, than indoors.
Service, while not terribly speedy, was quite helpful and friendly.
Delfina is also a restaurant which believes that a real Italian dinner should be comprised of more than just an appetizer and a main course. When they list pastas and second courses as well, they fully intend for you to get one of each, and the portions are sized appropriately. Does it mean you'll end up spending a bit more? Well, sure, but it also means you'll get to try that many more fantastic dishes, and isn't that what it's all about?
Now I will attempt to coax my sleep-deprived, Star Wars addled brain to recall the meal... Meditate on this, I must.
They have a reasonably sized, well-thought out wine list chock-full of great selections from both Italy and California. We started with a 2002 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir ($50), which was wonderfully rich and flavorful without being massive or overpowering. It made for a perfect beginning to the meal and accompaniment to the lighter appetizing fare, as well as for good drinking on its own.
We followed that with a 2002 Unti Syrah ($34?), which was intense, dark, jammy and almost pruny while maintaining a long dry finish and some pleasant tannins which melted away nicely with a bit of air.
And here follows an account of the food I remember sampling:
Salt cod mantecato with walnut oil and fennel seed flatbread - Definately cod, without being overly salty or fishy, served in a small bowl apparently somewhat ground. The flatbread was tasty and very crisp (almost too hard in my opinion) and made a good vehicle for the cod.
Fennel crusted grilled fennel - Fantastic! A wonderful combination of flavors between the soft grilled and spiced aspects.
Rosemary tagliatelle with duck giblets and aged balsamico - perfectly cooked homemade pasta, with very strongly flavored bits of giblets in the light balsamic-based sauce. Strong and flavorful!
Gnocchi with English peas and morel mushrooms - Flawless. The morels were perfect, and astoundingly wonderful in their flavor and texture. The gnocchi was cooked to the right texture and seemed lightly pan-fried. The peas made for a fascinatingly almost-crisp counterpoint to the softness of everything else.
Salmon with seasonal veggies - I can't recall the exact details of this dish, except that the fish was so superbly cooked as to be almost astounding in its tenderness, and the veggies (of which there was wide variety) made a great accompaniment. Truly delectable.
Warm chocolate cake with creme anglaise - the epitome of moist & delicious richness.
Some sort of espresso gelato with a rich chocolate sauce - good enough to be sinful.
I also had a glass of 01 Navarro Late Harvest White Riesling, which was a perfect capper to the evening; just the right balance of crisp acidity and rich sweetness.
A truly marvelous meal, most worthy of repetition, and all for the entirely reasonable sum of about $67/person after tip.