Smoking Gun: Beretta Opens


The opening of the latest place to eat and drink in the Mission District, brings up two issues:
1. How much pizza can SF take? (I’m thinking a lot, because I’m currently celebrating the close proximity this new spot to my house.)
2. Those star SF bartenders—excuse me, mixologists—sure get around. And I don’t mean in that way.

A recent mini exodus from Bourbon & Branch* has left the Tenderloin hot-spot down a few of their more celebrated bartenders—including Todd Smith (who’s continuing to teach at the B&B Beverage Academy) as well as Ryan Fitzgerald, Jon Santer and Thad Vogler (who crafted the most delicious Absinthe daiquiri for Jardiniere's lounge menu). But this is all par for the course, as many bartenders-in-demand tend to be a restless bunch, and B&B has plenty of talent to take their place.

Where did the big boys pop up—at least for now? Beretta, an Italian restaurant/pizzeria that just took over the former Last Supper Club space. I don’t normally think to pair my pizza with a cocktail, but never say never—especially when it's truly two of life's biggest pleasures. (For the record, though, Vogler says he doesn't think much of pairing food, such as pizza, with cocktails, but if you wish to, he recommends "long" drinks such as the Muestra Paloma, a tart, icy combination made of grapefruit, tequila, bitters and elderflower syrup.)

Star bartenders Eric Johnson, Ryan Fitzgerald,
Thad Vogler and Todd Smith: A
cocktail with
your margherita?

The opening night for Beretta was Tuesday, where Smith acted as more expediter than behind-the-bar bartender. In restaurants, it’s often the executive chef that does this duty, while the chef de cuisine actually cooks at the stoves. (This caused a deep thought. With the rise and rise of the bartending world, has the new cocktail corporate ladder come to this: bar back, bartender, mixologist-de-bar, and executive mixologist? Stay tuned.)

Beretta, which is co-owned by Italian-born Ruggero Gadaldi, chef-owner of Peche and Antica Trattoria, will be serving dishes such as braised artichokes and fava bean crostini with pecorino, but it’s the pizzas that I can tell he’s really excited about. Expect to see Neapolitan-style margharitas pulled out of the oven and topped with classic combos such as arugula and proscuitto. The oven, for you pizza geeks, is gas like Delfina’s (better for the environment than wood-burning), but has an open deck so you can see it all happening. “I like to see my pizza while it’s bubbling,” said Gadaldi in his thick accent. We were talking on the phone, but I'm pretty sure I could hear him smiling at the thought.

* More on the latest with the B&B team, including their plans for a booze delivery service, tomorrow!

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