(Photography by Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: Che Fico Alimentari is a meaty, cheesy, bready winner

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Che Fico, Che Fico, Che Fico. If you've haven't heard about San Francisco's hottest restaurant (and its celebrity following), then you've been living beneath a rock and it's time to dig out of your hole and get some sustenance.

You could queue up at the Divisadero Street resto before it opens at 5:30pm if you hope to snag a table without a reservation. Or, you could swing into the just-opened Che Fico Alimentari downstairs where, even if there's not a table at the ready, you could grab some handmade pasta, salumi, and Sicilian wine to go.


The shelves at Che Fico Alimentari are stocked with Italian grocery staples including dry pastas, wine, olive oil, and other goods.(Sarah Chorey)

If you've visited this address in recent history then you remember Theorita—the Che Fico team's modish, bright green diner starring burgers and pies; but with a step inside the newly sexed up Roman-style wine bar, you might wonder why they didn't go this route this before.

DLC-ID's Jon de la Cruz was once again tapped to manage the design, infusing this new Italian-style grocery-slash-eatery with warmth—in the form of velvet seating roughly the same hue as soppressata, rich wood floors and furnishings, and green plants—and humor (try not to lick the meat-patterned wallpaper).

"In terms of the space, we really wanted to lean on the natural intimacy of it, the cave-like feel," says chef/partner David Nayfeld. "We felt it was very important to keep the feel that you're in a bit of a hideaway."

For sure we could hide out in here for hours ordering up plate after plate of so many tasty snacks, because unlike the more formal restaurant upstairs, Che Fico Alimentari channels Italian wine bar vibes with a focus on a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, marinated antipasti, and a few pasta dishes all designed for grazing...and to pair well with vino—there are more than 200 wines here, largely from Piedmont, Tuscany, and Sicily, curated by wine director Francesca Maniace. It's how Nayfeld and chef de cuisine Evan Allumbaugh enjoyed eating during their travels in Italy.

And if you've been upstairs, you know the salumi is the real deal; Alimentari capitalizes on the crave-worthiness. "By the nature of Che Fico's menu, we weren't tapping into the full potential of our salumeria upstairs, so it made perfect sense for us to showcase it this way," he says.

Be sure to take some to go, and pocket a chunk of cheese while you're at it. The shelves are lined with all the makings of an artful Italian picnic—including baker/partner Angela Pinkerton's fresh breads, olive oils, dry pastas, and more.

(Sarah Chorey)

The cheese menu is vast. Decide between mozzarella served four ways (with prosciutto, anchovies, etc.), two burrata dishes, three selections of cheese from America, and five from Italy. The sheep's milk Pecorino Fiore Sardo is nutty, lightly smoky, and pretty happy about a spoonful of fig jam.

// Che Fico Alimentari, 834 Divisadero St. (NoPa), cheficoalimentari.com

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