Piccino, a small little cafe/pizzeria in the Potrero Hill/Dogpatch region of San Francisco, is my newest discovery–and quite the gem. I won’t claim to the be discoverer of this place, but I will tell you: it is worth the trek. It is possibly the furthest restaurant in the city from my house, and sits on a quiet little street in a developing area here in the city.
The ‘cafe’ boasts of seasonal ingredients that change on a routine basis. When we popped in–on a Saturday evening, without a reservation–there were a few tables taken, but the newly-light evening was still young for most diners. To start, we got a carafe of a warmly earthy French wine, a salumi plate and a salad of winter chicories, pears and almonds. The salumi plate, which came with some freshly tossed arugula, was quite generous–in fact, perhaps too generous for two people. As the sun began to set outside, several more groups poured in and the hostess jotted the house specials on a blackboard (I immediately started eyeing desserts) and began setting out little tea lights around the space. Piccino has a casual cafe feel and is small enough to make you feel like you’re really part of the kitchen. The diners have an open view of the pizza oven and all of the pots/bowls/etc.
We ordered two of the specials on the night’s pizza menu: the funghi (that’s Italian for mushrooms), and the special red (with Fatted Calf pancetta, red onion, rosemary and ricotta salata).The mushroom pizza was definitely the standout of the night. Piccino’s pizzas are more like flatbreads: delicate, thin crusts, topped with a light scattering of ingredients. I really enjoyed the selection of wild mushrooms and the crescenza cheese. The pizzas are also served with a little mini bowl of red pepper flakes–which adds a nice touch. While I can certainly appreciate a gooey, cheesy pizza, it wasn’t what I was in the mood for that night, and it was really nice to enjoy something simple and–quite pretty, actually. I also appreciated the unusual ceramic table settings that our food was served on. They definitely gave this place a nice quirkiness.
I didn’t end up trying any of the desserts–though the chocolate cake and pine nut tart sounded divine. I’m not sure when I’ll have an opportunity to wander over to this little ‘hood again, but when I do, I hope to try more of Piccino. I haven’t spent much time in this part of the city and was really impressed with how this area is developing. It’s nice to sometimes feel like a tourist in your own city, and it’s one of the things I love most about San Francisco: the diversity of the different neighborhoods (all fit within a 7×7 area). It’s really quite something.