on monday night, my friend ellie turned a year older. and she had a small celebration (there were four of us). she wanted to eat at pesce which is a seafood tapa place in russian hill. pesce is listed as one of the top 100 restaurants by the san francisco chronicle for the past few years. the place is small. we sat in the front half of the restaurant. it was intimate without being cramped even with it's low lighting. the bar sat four. the place probably sits up to fifty or so diners. however i can see that this place gets packed and loud later in the week. the specials were written on squarish chalkboards, giving that fisherman's wharf vibe. however the decor isn't wharf-like at all. it's more... crate and barrel inspired with its dark woods interior. however their separate back room had a splash of lime green.
if you click the menu image, you'll see the items we ordered.
Drinks. i ordered a sazerac (rye whiskey and "five dashes of voodoo") which the waitress said was really strong (it was not and she never found out what kind of rye whiskey was used... didn't taste "top shelf"). i did not try the others' drinks -- a negroni and a blood orange cosmo. they were all pinkish in color including my own (sigh). i don't remember the bottle of wine we had midway. their small selection were mainly italian.
Main. all seven dishes arrived at the same time. my favorite was the smoked salmon bruscheetta. i like the horseradish kick. the baccala was plain but please note i really like cod. i think i'm gratin out. it seems like a huge food trend now to have a gratin something. or perhaps i believe that cheese and seafood don't really go together, especially something like lobster (it's a common place for chinese restaurants to do gratin oysters or lobsters). cheese just overwhelms the mild oily flavors of cod. however the gratin mussels however was not overwhelmed by the cheese. it was fairly good. so what made it different? maybe it's the puttanesca sauce. the grilled yellow tail was yummy. moist and sweet. i swear the green salsa verde on it was cilantro but it's actually artichoke. the grilled sardines was a surprise, tasting more like mackerel. the cioppino which was the night's special (not printed but on the chalkboard) was simple. instead of having every single seafood item in it... it had simply shrimp and mussels. the american italian cruise was tomato-ey and refreshing verus the creamy french bouillabaisse.
Desserts. we ordered two -- a chocolate ricotta pudding and a bread pudding. the bread pudding was nice and crunchy although no as good as ruggles. however the star of the desserts was the ricotta pudding. the ricotta was deep and rich in chocolate, surrounded by blackberries. i wish i could go into detail about the desserts but dining with three women… i barely manage to get a bite.
the night ended with only the four of us sitting around chatting until pesce closed (or they wanted to close. you can see the waitress and the manager sitting behind the bar bored and mumbling to themselves). so would i go back? yes for it's fresh (although small) seafood plates. next time i have to try their lamb shank and squid ink risotto.
for dishes from the evening, click over to this photo set at flickr.