I'm ashamed to say that Incanto is a restaurant that I rarely make it to, despite the fact that it's near my house. No matter that Chris Cosentino is one of the most recognized faces in the world of SF chefs. This restaurant flies a bit under the radar, which is a good thing for a last-minute pasta craving.
After eating there this week, I think that this might be because the interior, while conservatively pleasant, could use a bit dimmer lighting, more of an inviting mood. It's surprisingly incongruous with Consentino's hip spiky hair, black-framed glasses, and Tony Bourdain-ish attitude.
But lighting be damned, I sat at the bar and had some fantastic food. Not date food, I'll warn you. Having spotted the dish on Chefs Feed, I had to order Consentino's signature spaghettini with a mound of shaved tuna heart and garlic, all topped with an egg yolk to mix in, is a breath-mint ad in the making. But if you love pungently fishy flavors (fish sauce, mackerel, anchovies, Southeast Asian shrimp paste) and perfectly chewy pasta, it satisfies a craving. My husband runs shrieking from these flavors and I love them. (Food & Wine ran a tamer version of this recipe not long ago, should you want to try it at home, closer to the toothbrush.)
To start, we also had a great winter salad of hedgehog mushrooms tossed with thinly shredded cabbage, mustard and Pecorino cheese—textures and ingredients I wouldn't have thought to put together—and a dish of fregola, chunks of Dungeness crab, lemon and chile, which was a rustic stew of sorts, the hearty, round couscous-like pasta bathed in a rich, crabby sauce. (Crabby? Note to food writer: You can do better.) Everything was spot-on and I'll be back sooner this time.
On Monday, I attended a private dinner for 25 at a gorgeous SoMa loft put on by Kitchit to celebrate the company's launch. Promoting itself as a new form of "bespoke" dining, Kitchit puts consumers in touch with chefs—from the everyday to "master chefs" such as Daniel Patterson and Traci Des Jardins—for private dinners. It's a great idea. Kind of underground dining comes to you. I was lucky enough to have Michelin-starred chef Chris Kostow of Meadowood cook the dinner I attended. When Kostow makes a minestrone, it's hardly minestrone: it's little jewels of the tiniest vegetables known to mankind, treated like royalty, with a broth redolent of cumin poured tableside. When he serves roasted leg of lamb it's thick and meaty like a standing rib roast. What a treat. Stay tuned to 7x7's March issue to hear more about it.
Inside Scoop reports that Meadowood is closing for a remodel this January and February, so I'm thinking that if you're looking for Kostow to be your private chef for a night, you better book him now if he's even available. I promise it to be money well spent.
Best thing I've eaten this week: Spaghettini with tuna heart at Incanto