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!
We started our meal with a hearty serving of appetizers:
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.
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’ 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!