Beretta, San Francisco

Signage

I found out about Beretta from my friend Haas at No Salad as a Meal. Sure enough, two days later the Michael Bauer makes his way out there, and peace is now forever gone!

I stood in line for over an hour to get a table for 4 on the Sunday night the Chronicle review was published. I wish I could change the fate of a restaurant in the same way! The menu is really original- a mouth-watering list of appetizers served tapa-style, a selection of pizza and risotto, and only one “main” for each day of the week. That’s it. Oh, and dessert is only gelato. I found Beretta’s food solid, with room for improvement, and with amazing ideas for surprising spins on traditional dishes that make me want to go back!

Beretta Interior

We started our meal with a hearty serving of appetizers:

Appetizers: Crostini and Radicchio

Charred Radicchio with Saba, a sauce made with boiled must, was pretty good. The saba is a sweet counterbalance to the bitterness typical of radicchio, which is accentuated by the grilling. A good and interesting appetizer.

Beretta Chicken Liver Tuscan Crostini

My mother is from the Tuscan city of Arezzo, and I spent my childhood there enjoying the crostini neri my grandma would make for all special occasions- including all Sunday lunches! It was a surprising moment to discover them on Beretta’s menu: made with chicken liver, anchovies and capers, crostini are a specialties that speak of Tuscan hills and rustic food. In Tuscany, the bread will be moist in chicken stock, as crostini are usually made with day old bread. Beretta used fresh bread, so a bit crunchier than what I am used to. But the topping was perfect!

Baccala\'

Baccala’ with grilled polenta was okay- we found it unusual that the chef had decided to serve it with a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese. as a purist, I prefer my cheese to keep the distance from my fish! The baccala’ was chewy and not great overall.

Gnocchi at Beretta

The gnocchi with fresh porcini mushrooms and guanciale were a bit disappointing. The dumplings were not soft and smooth, but rather hard and chewy. The topping of porcini mushrooms was pretty good, but the overall feeling was that the kitchen doesn’t have a clear idea of what gnocchi are.

Risotto Porcini e Barbera

We moved on to main courses and were stunned by our choices. The risotto with porcini and Barbera was something to write home about- delicious! Well balanced in its flavors without letting the porcini overpower the dish, the risotto was perfectly done- not overcooked, not undercooked, served just at the right time!

Risotto asparagus and robiola

After the big burst of flavor of the first one, the risotto with asparagus and robiola was a bit flat- it should have been eaten first, because it was wonderfully delicate in its taste. Another perfectly cooked risotto for Beretta!

Pizzas were good, but not amazing. I think the kitchen is still trying to find the right balance in the ingredients. The pizza crust is crunchy and a bit chewy- but good. Our experience with the one that attracts more comments than any other, potato, rosemary, radicchio and gorgonzola piccante, was a bit of a disaster: the radicchio was too bitter, there was too much gorgonzola to overpower both the potatoes and the rosemary, and it felt a bit of an overstretch to everyone at my table.

Pizza with Prosciutto and arugola

The more classic tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto and arugola was a winner- the fresh tomato sauce, the wonderful balance of ingredients, the crust- everything was up to par. A really good pizza to enjoy with friends!

Chocolate bonet ice cream

We finished our meals with gelato. Now, that was a stunning experience! We had the bonet-chocolate gelato with amaretti and caramel, which was good, and the vanilla affogato in Barolo Chinato, which was GREAT! A reason to go back in its own good! A treat the four of us argued about to the last bite! A wonderful way to end a good dinner, and a new addition to the Italy in SF recommended restaurants!

Beretta
1199 Valencia Street
San Francisco CA, 94110
415 695 1199

Some pictures (the pretty ones!) courtesy of ©Haas, No Salad as a Meal (Beretta’s Interior, Crostini di Fegato, Gnocchi and Ice Cream)

9 Responses to “Beretta, San Francisco”

  1. Thanks for the detailed review. I like it better than MB’s! Of course, he’s not Italian. Sorry to hear the gnocchi were no good. I would have been tempted to try them since the ones at Antica Trattoria are amazing. The best I’ve had outside of Italy.

  2. The food at Beretta is phenomenal and you’d be hard pressed to find a better cocktail in San Francisco. I can’t wait to go back.

  3. Beretta is a great little neighborhood spot with original and tasty cocktails and great Italian food. It’s a perfect spot to meet friends for drinks and a casual bite to eat…

  4. I think the kitchen is warming up- they will be up to fabulous speed by the end of the summer, and the gnocchi, I am sure, will be phenomenal!! Alas, we shared a bottle of Refosco instead of trying the super-celebrated cocktails… but I go with Joe, isn’t this a perfect excuse to go back?
    Amy, can you tell me more about your experience at Antica Trattoria? Best gnocchi outside of Italy is an argument hard to resist!!

  5. [...] the vinegar selection is quite high-end and varied. They even carry Saba, the sweet must sauce that Beretta uses on grilled [...]

  6. [...] the Bay Area, you will find stunning risottos at La Strada in Palo Alto and Beretta in San Francisco. If you want to make your own- a full step-by-step tutorial coming [...]

  7. My mouth is watering for those crostini neri! I recently spent a month in Arezzo studying the language-I love it there and can’t wait to return.

  8. MY mother was born in Arezzo, Italy, too! Ciao!

  9. Small world Mandy! Maybe they know each other??? :)

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