Wednesday, November 9, 2011

incanto

google 'incanto in english' and this would be what you would find:
charm or enchantment may be an english equivalent of 'incanto'. the word in italian is a masculine gender noun that takes as its definite article 'il'['the'] and as its indefinite article 'uno' ['a,one']
-wikianswer.com

what a suitable name for chris cosentino's italian restaurant in noe valley, san francisco. i was on my food network chef restaurant hunt in san francisco, beginning with wayfare tavern planned for lunch and then incanto for dinner. i first watched chris cosentino on a food network show called 'chefs vs city' where he paired with aaron sanchez to compete with local foodies/chefs in various US cities. i've also seen him on the 'best thing i ever ate' several where i've also tried two of his recommendations - the maple glazed bacon apple donut from dynamo donut and the chorizo-stuffed dates from avec, both of which i enjoyed tremendously. 



a chef who can recommend such awesome food, i was convinced that his food would be equally amazing. chris cosentino also had a hand at creating boccalone in the ferry building where you can find various good quality salumi, a place i would always return to whenever i visit sf for their salumi cone. <3 i was also secretly hoping that i could come across the chef himself while dining at his restaurant. (and no, didn't see him either)


the restaurant boasts its italian heritage in its tasteful decor as well as chef's love for all things pork with some mock up of cooking utensils displayed above the stretch of glass doors lining the front of the restaurant. there was a bar to the left as you enter the dining space with a display of boccalone salumi on the front.


i hate to admit it but the service here started out shaky and it wasn't a good way to start because i have such high expectations for this place and that set the tone for the whole evening. it was slow and it took more than a few minutes before our server came by to take our order. i understand that the place was bustling and busy but they should be prepared for such a situation especially a reputable restaurant of great caliber such as incanto. it gradually improved over the night but we both agreed it was slow and the food came out with extended pauses in between. (/end rant)

they started us out with a bread basket and olive tapenade. that bread was soft and lovely and the olive flavor came through quite prominently in a good way if you like olives. :)


if you ever came by to try incanto, it's a good idea to check what their specials are for the night before looking at their regular menu. we actually ended up ordering two dishes from their specials menu.




appetizer (specials) :: clams |  cherry tomatoes . pickled chilli . country ham brodo ($13)


hands down: best dish of the night. when we looked at the list of ingredients, we formed an idea how this was going to be prepared. but we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the dish served at our table. the fresh clams were nestled comfortably within the visibly different types of cherry tomatoes and the pickled chilli which gave a burst of bright colors, all swimming in this savory and excellent broth. 


the cherry tomatoes were roasted through but intact. biting into each tomatoes with a fresh clam in a spoonful of the smoky broth gives you a burst of fresh tartness and sweetness tomato essences while savoring all the other flavors. this is a wonderful rendition of clam dish with the freshest ingredients. love it. in fact, even though we said no more bread because we wanted to save room for the rest of the meal, but we went ahead ate the rest of the bread to sop up all the goodness. LOVE!

pasta (specials) :: sweetbread ravioli | capers . lemon . parsley ($11)


this was a half order from the specials menu. we were going to order their signature ragu dish but then i saw sweetbread ravioli which i wanted to try very much since i've never had sweetbread before. everyone raves about sweetbread and i wanted to see what the hype is all about.



sadly, we were both a tad disappointed after such an outstanding showing of the clams. there wasn't any textural difference but overall the dish was an underwhelming display of flavor combination. i loved the fresh pasta that was cooked just right - soft but still had a bite to it - but the filling was just okay and ryan thought it could have easily been something else. i thought perhaps some lemon zest would have given a surprise pop of freshness that the dish was missing although the capers was actually a great touch. maybe my next sweetbread experience would have me jumping off my chair, just not in a ravioli which was muted by everything else.


entree :: duck breast | corn . figs. hazelnuts ($26)



duck breast and figs just sounded awesome and plus i wanted to try fresh figs for the first time (i know there are a lot of firsts at this restaurant) which i loveee! the duck breast had awesome crispy skin but the meat was borderline dry and needed a touch more salt. the corn and the figs were amazing and they both gave the game-y meat the softness and moistness to make up for it. the two streaks of sauce/pesto provided layers of great flavors as accompaniment. it was a good dish but wasn't amazing.


dessert :: milk-chocolate espresso budino ($8.50)



we ended on a high note with this selection because i loved this dessert. it was a rich creamy pudding, chocolate-y but with a bitter undertone from the espresso. the smoothness of the pudding is contrasted by the crunch of cookie crumbles and chocolate pieces which amplified the flavors even more. to top it off, there is the light whipped cream to make the dessert a little airy. this hit the right sweet note :)



incanto displayed a flash of brilliance in a few dishes that we tried. i have to say my dining experience was more of a rollercoaster ride, with a couple of highs and lows but i would like to return sometime  in the future to try some of the other signature dishes they have to offer namely the leg of beast and their ragu.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others


Incanto on Urbanspoon

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