Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area

Incanto: a mixed bag

iwantmytwodollars | | Jan 19, 2008 07:51 PM

Being a first class carnivore, I went to Incanto for the first time a week or two ago with very high hopes. But like many on this board, I was somewhat disappointed by both the service and the food. My boyfriend, though, seemed to like it a lot. What puzzled me is that though meat is supposedly the restaurant’s forte, the best parts of our meal were the homemade breads (focaccia, breadsticks and peasant-type loaf) and a seafood pasta dish. Go figure.

We came in at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday. It was packed (largely with septuagenarians), and I was glad we made a reservation. While we were seated shortly after arriving and had a lovely waitress who did a very good job describing the food and pairing our dishes with wines, we didn’t get our bread until after we had olives and salad. That was at least 40 minutes after we were seated.

The salad was a kind of dandelion green nicoise, with chopped egg, capers and anchovy(?). Again, my boyfriend loved this. But I found the citrusy dressing way too tart, especially considering the bitter nature of the greens. (Both of us also found the greens to be of an unwieldy size.) The olives were warm and house-cured with garlic, which pleased us. But olives do not a meal make.

What really annoyed me is that the table next to us seemed to get some type of starter immediately after they were seated, which we were not offered. Perhaps they are special, I don’t know. Or maybe they ordered a different type of appetizer that just came out sooner than our salad. Regardless, it irritated me because we were starving and didn't get any food for a solid 20 to 30 minutes.

Our next course was pasta. We split a spaghetti (was it cavatelli?) topped with shavings of cured tuna heart. This was a most unique and delicious dish. The noodles were perfectly al dente and the fish heart – wow. Salty, earthy, and not even made of pigs. An A-plus!

For the entrée, my bf had the beans with sausage. He felt this was the epitome rustic Italian cuisine. I thought the sausage was too mild and the beans too … crunchy. Almost like they were underboiled/simmered (or maybe I’m just used to overcooked beans). My dish was the milk-braised pork with polenta and greens. While the polenta was delicious, if a tad cheesy, the meat was way too soggy. I would even venture to say stringy. Not what I expected. But in the end I hoovered it all down, so how bad could it have been?

We finished with espresso and a bay leaf panacotta. Got the coffee at least 10 minute before the dessert, which made no sense to me, but whatever. The panna cotta, milky and light in texture, was ok. But I could not taste the bay leaf. Maybe that’s for the better.

Lastly, I must comment on their surcharges. We were aware of the additional 5% surcharge they put on the final bill to ensure fair payment of their kitchen staff, but essentially you end up ordering food thinking it costs way less than it will in the end (this surcharge is not included in the menu price). I don’t know why they don’t just incorporate this extra cost into the price of the food itself. It would save diners a lot of acrimony.

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