Hoss Zaré in his newfound home: The Fly Trap.
Hoss Zaré began cooking more than 18 years ago in the kitchen of the SF institution, The Fly Trap. Now, Hoss is returning to the same SoMa spot where he once started as a line cook and ended up a chef. This time around (tonight to be exact), Hoss will open the doors to Zaré at Fly Trap and offer guests a little bit of history with a side order of modern Mediterranean.
A little history: In 1986 Hoss left his homeland of Iran to come to San Francisco. He’s owned many eponymous restaurants: Bistro Zaré and Zaré in FiDi on Sacramento Street. They had nine years of success before Hoss decided to close both San Francisco locations and open Zaré Napa. But San Francisco beckoned for Hoss to come back, and, after a yearlong hiatus to deal with the sudden death of both his parents, he’s returned to SF.
How does it feel to return to SF?
I feel even more at home here than I do in my homeland. I have a huge city family that includes friends and guests from the past nine years with my restaurant [Zaré on Sacramento]. Customers invite me into their homes and to their sons’ and daughters’ weddings.
What is it about The Fly Trap that has brought you back to it?
A lot of memories.
Has the space changed much from the old Fly Trap?
The only elements that I wanted to keep were the ceiling, wallpaper and the lights. It was too dark in here before, depressing, so we made the bricks in here red so people look over to the bar at happy hour and see color, and it makes them happy. It was like opening the curtains and letting a little light shine in.
What is your style of cooking?
I’ve cooked Italian, French and American cuisines but I have my own style. I like that every bite you take you get another element. If you bite and it all tastes the same it gets boring. One of the dishes I have here is marinated chickpeas with sour grapes. Instead of using capers I use the sour grapes. It has the same texture. I put sundried tomato, pine nuts and Italian parsley and barberries in it too, so every time you take a bite the flavors pop in your mouth. I say the style is Mediterranean, but Mediterranean can be anything.
How has the menu changed from the original Fly Trap?
I’ve twisted the flavors of what they used to have at The Fly Trap. There used to be a lot of ravioli, all different kinds—a list of tortellini. I just have one, conchiglioni, which is a big pig ear shaped pasta. I stuff it with lamb cheek Bolognese. So the idea of the menu, if you dissect it you see the backdrop of the old Fly Trap with a mixture of California and Mediterranean.